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Politics destroying Illinois deer herd

January 28, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Illinois hunting and fishing

Higgins bio

Don Higgins is a 45-year-old freelance outdoors writer from Shelby County. His magazine articles have appeared in North American Whitetail, Bowhunter, Outdoor Life, Petersens Bowhunting, Whitetail Journal, Illinois Game & Fish, Buckmasters as well as several other publications.

He is also the author of a very Illinois hunting and fishingpopular deer hunting book, “Hunting Trophy Whitetails in the Real World” which is now in its second printing. Click here for more information.

While Don’s reputation is cemented in the fact that he regularly tags “bigger than average” whitetail bucks, he prefers to be known for promoting sound deer management and ethical hunting practices. When not scheming the downfall of another monster whitetail or writing about it, Don owns and operates Higgins Tree Farm, a multi-faceted tree business which specializes in creating quality wildlife habitat through conservation tree and native grass plantings.

When whitetail hunters across North America hear the word Illinois they envision monster bucks and a well-managed deer herd. These thoughts are understandable, since decades ago Illinois had a pair of whitetail biologists who thought outside the box and through sound biological practices created the premier whitetail herd in all of North America. Jack Calhoun and Forest Loomis were responsible for innovative management ideas such as “either sex” deer hunting when other states were shooting only bucks.

They also micro-managed Illinois’ limited but growing deer herd on a county-by-county basis rather than on a statewide level. Realizing that Illinois is a vast state with a variety of terrain, data was gathered through county check stations manned with college students during the firearms season. Because of the innovative ideas of these pioneers in whitetail management, Illinois became the model that other states mimicked as they tried to better manage their own herds.

Today most hunters across North America still think of Illinois as “whitetail paradise.” But most resident deer hunters know better. Resident hunters have witnessed more than a decade of slow destruction of the Illinois deer herd caused by poor management decisions with bigger crushing blows apparently soon to come. The politically created “Illinois Deer Task Force” held a series of meetings across the state last summer for “public input” on proposed deer hunting regulation changes.

The problem with this is two-fold; first, the idea of “public input” was “misleading”, to be kind. While the public was allowed to submit written input or speak one on one with members of the task force, the proposed changes were already outlined before the first meeting took place and remain the same today. These meetings were seen by the hunting public as nothing more than a well-orchestrated political farce whereby the political task force could say they held meetings for public input. What they fail to mention is that 100 percent of that public input essentially went straight to the garbage can.

Secondly, the changes proposed by the task force are all detrimental to the proper management of the Illinois deer herd and will do little to address the concerns for which they were designed.

One proposed regulation calls for a nine-day antlerless season to be held in mid-January each year. The problem is not in having an “antlerless season” but in the timing of it. Right now Illinois has a three-day antlerless season in mid-January and recent harvest results show that more than 21 percent of the deer killed in this season are actually bucks! This happens for a couple of reasons; a lot of bucks have shed their antlers by mid-January and are mistakenly shot as does.

Furthermore, this late in the season, buck fawns are as big as their mothers making them hard to distinguish from does. States such as Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota which are striving to improve the overall health of their deer herds are scheduling their antlerless seasons in September and October so that the desired results are obtained. In an effort to harvest more female deer, Wisconsin is even forcing hunters to shoot a doe before harvesting a buck through their “earn-a-buck” program.

Since Illinois politics eliminated our deer check stations, implementing a similar “earn-a-buck” program is all but out of the question. Outside of politics, there is no reason why Illinois cannot have an antlerless season in the early fall to better manage the resource. Furthermore, many Illinois counties which now have the special antlerless season do not even need it. Many veteran Illinois whitetail hunters are screaming for a September antlerless season over the January alternative but apparently their cries are falling on deaf ears. An additional benefit of a September season is the warmer weather which would be conducive to more participation from youth hunters who find it difficult to bear the cold January temperatures.

Another proposal of the Deer Task Force calls for an additional day to be added to the three-day November firearms season. One of the reasons that Illinois became the model for other states to follow was that our short firearms season during the whitetails November mating period allowed more bucks to survive and grow to older age classes. Some states such as Iowa and Ohio which are striving to better manage and improve their whitetail herds do not allow a single day of firearms hunting in November. On the other hand we have Illinois going in the opposite direction and adding days to the November firearms season. This proposal is strictly politically driven with no biological basis supporting it.

Most Illinois deer hunters recognize that the deer herd must be maintained at reasonable levels. Even so, this objective can be obtained with regulations that improve the current herd structure. Either of these new task force proposals will have negative consequences for the Illinois deer herd and combined they will be devastating. What is more amazing is how these new proposals are being “sold” to the public. Propaganda distributed by the task force used deer-vehicle collisions as a basis for determining that these steps were needed. The irony is that figures show that the deer related auto accidents in Illinois actually peaked in 2003, that is five years ago!

Furthermore, Chicago’s Cook County and the counties surrounding it where firearms hunting is not allowed are at the top of the list of counties with the most deer-vehicle collisions in terms of miles driven. These new task force driven regulations will not even be in effect in the areas where task force supplied rational says they are needed the most. On top of that, these areas are not even being addressed in any manner by the task force!

Furthermore, we are coming off of a season where the deer harvest in Illinois was down by roughly 11,000. In fact it is the buck portion of the harvest that has actually suffered as that 11,000 figure not only represents the drop in overall harvest but also the buck harvest. Could it be that ridiculous deer management regulations are already having a negative impact on the antlered portion of our deer herd? Only the political lunacy of Illinois could drive the logic behind the current task force proposals.

In a nutshell it is the same political lunacy that has our last governor in prison and our current one fighting to stay out. That’s right, dirty Illinois politics is deeply entrenched in the management of the Illinois deer herd and is poised to destroy it right before our eyes.

This is not the first time that dirty politics has made its way into the deer management arena in Illinois. Several years ago the DNR formed the Deer Hunters Advisory Committee (DHAC) to address the concerns brought forth by numerous sportsmen’s groups over the influx of non-resident deer hunters into the state. Illinois deer hunters cleared a major hurdle when the DHAC passed a resolution to cap the non-resident archery deer permits at 1998 levels or 12,800, even though many hunters thought the limit should have been about half of that number.

The compromise that many hunters found hard to swallow at the 12,800 level was soon being shoved down their throats as the limit was soon being raised to meet whatever the demand for non-resident deer permits seemed to be. Today that limit is so high (25,000 in 2008) that there are generally less applicants for the permits than permits available. In other words, there is no limit in Illinois, any non-resident deer hunter that wants to hunt in Illinois gets to do so.

Again, state politics allows this to happen without regards to any effect it may have on the Illinois deer herd or Illinois residents. To some this point may appear as “old news” but actually it figures heavily into the current issue of proposals brought forth by the current task force.

If one looks at the areas with the biggest problem of deer over-population, these are clearly those areas with the heaviest concentration of outfitters and leasing along with urban areas where firearms hunting is not allowed. Outfitters cater almost exclusively to non-resident hunters. With an unlimited client base they lease hundreds of thousands of acres for those clients to hunt. Obviously these hunters do not travel to Illinois to shoot a doe but instead take a disproportionate number of antlered bucks.

The result is a number of problems. To begin, this leased acreage is more or less a sanctuary for female deer to reproduce with little hunting pressure to control their numbers. It is easy to see the population explosion that takes place.

Furthermore the sex ratio of the deer herd in these areas becomes heavily skewed in favor of the females resulting in an unbalanced herd. As proof consider Pike County which is probably the outfitting capital of Illinois. Figures show that more than 50 percent of all land in Pike County is under commercial lease with outfitters, and this does not even take into consideration the acreage leased for private hunting use primarily by non-residents.

It has gotten so bad that at least one high ranking DNR employee has admitted that the DNR has lost control of the deer herd in that area! Ironically that this very same DNR employee attended the DHAC meetings several years back and refused to take a stance on the issue of limiting non-resident hunters, saying the issue was a “social” issue rather than a “biological” one.  I wonder how this person feels today when no matter how many permits the DNR makes available for Pike County, they do not sell out because the local hunters have no place to hunt. Yet here we sit poised to have more ill thought out regulations forced upon us by a political “task force”.

The approach that is now taken in Illinois in regards to the management of our deer herd is to ignore sound biological science and manage by politics. The great deer herd created decades ago by foresighted biologists in Illinois is on the cusp of being destroyed. Special interest groups have seen the dollar value of our deer herd and sought to exploit it. Even the legislature has gotten involved by raising the cost of non-resident deer hunting permits while also increasing their number to garner more dollars for the state coffers. They fail to realize that the value is in a well-managed deer herd, not simply in the deer.

Special interest groups like outfitters and the Farm Bureau got their foot in the door because a well-managed herd allowed them to profit. Through short sightedness and sheer ignorance of proper deer management they have used politics to push the Illinois deer herd down a path to destruction. Politics is clearly destroying the future of our deer herd for instant financial gain without regards to the health of the resource we are leaving the next generation. While many states have made conscious efforts to improve their own deer herds, Illinois politics has exploited ours while also slowly destroying it.

Our neighboring Iowa serves as a great example of a state that protects the resource while striving to improve it, all while looking out for its residents. Although Iowa and Illinois encompass almost exactly the same land mass, Iowa allows a fraction of the number of non-resident hunters that Illinois does (2,100 archery non-residents in Iowa vs. 25,000 for Illinois). Iowa does this while also having only a fraction the number of resident hunters. Iowa also allocates those non-resident permits by region and employs hunting regulations and season dates that protect the resource. It is no accident that Iowa has clearly surpassed Illinois on the list of states with a quality deer herd.

If the trend continues and Illinois implements the changes proposed by the current task force we will fall much further down the list. When this happens we will all lose. We owe it to our children and future generations to turn things around and once again make Illinois home of the premier whitetail herd in North America. We have the terrain, the climate, the genetics and we have the people capable of doing it but we have Illinois politics taking our most precious natural resource in the wrong direction.

What we are seeing from the current deer task force is a bad reaction to a bad decision made years before. Politics prevented a reasonable limit on non-resident deer hunters. The result was that unlimited non-resident hunters led to rampant leasing over huge tracts of land where DNR regulations could no longer control the deer herd. Those same misguided notions that got us into this mess are on the verge of another step down the wrong path as they try to correct their past mistake.

Extending the firearms deer season or adding extra antlerless hunting days will have no effect on the lands where hunting is not allowed or strictly controlled by individuals looking to make money from non-resident hunters. The regulations which are currently being proposed will have detrimental effects across the state while doing nothing to address the real problems where they need to be addressed.

An army of Illinois deer hunters await the direction of the DNR with regards to the task force recommendations. Because of recent history, most are expecting the worst and yet many are still fighting until the end to save our deer herd from further destruction. Those dedicated sportsmen see the Illinois deer herd as much more than a source of income to be exploited for immediate financial gain. They see it as a renewable resource that should be managed as wisely as possible to ensure its quality now and for future generations.

After coming off a hunting season that saw roughly 10,000 less deer (bucks) killed and the public outcry against the task force recommendations, it would seem logical to table any changes for at least a year.  Even DNR deer biologist Paul Shelton who declined an opportunity to answer questions for this article was recently quoted as saying “The fact is the health of the Illinois deer herd is great — exceptional” and “We’re nowhere near carrying capacity.”

Why then are we even considering these changes, especially given the public opposition? Oh yeah … Illinois politics as usual.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What Don says here is so very true. We all know it but being nearly powerless only adds insult to injury. The sad thing here is the fact that “when or if” the deer herd is nearly destroyed, guess who they’re going to ask to fix it? Us, the hunters, with no regard for our previous requests on how to manage!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 01:02 PM

It seems like every so-called “expert” references Iowa in their rants against Illinois’ whitetail management.  Many people claim Iowa has ideal whitetail management plan.  Truth be told, Iowa has a total of 52 days of gun hunting, and the southern 1/3 of the state has an extra 15 days of rifle season.  That is a total of 77 days of gun hunting!  In addition, bowhunting is closed for 16 days during the first half of December, and there are over 2 weeks of muzzleloader hunting before bow season even opens each year.  If any of these seasons were proposed in IL, the comments we have heard this fall would seem calm.  If people want to complain about a couple extra days of gun season in Illinois, that is fine, but quit referencing Iowa in your arguements.  Bowhunters in Illinois don’t realize how good they have it in comparison to other states.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 01:54 PM

You are correct with everything in this articel. Ethincal deer hunting is the only solution to the problem as well as curbing the amount of outsiders that are allowed to hunt in our state. Another problem that I have run into is with Illinois Hunters and ther lack of sound ethincal hunting practices. In the nine acres that I hunt there is some adjacent property that was recently purchased by a few individuals. THye pretty much allow anyone to hunt there. After all the scouting and other task that I performed to make my 9 acres a plae that I could get a doe if my season was going bad elswhere these guys have ruined in in one season. Throughout the year I ahve seen these three small bucks every day at the same time according to my cameras and the times that i spent there this year. the last time that I hunted there this unknown individual walks right in front of my stand trailing some deer he thinks he hit. After I expressed my heart felt gratitude for ruining my day of hunting I helped him track down this little tiny forkhorn that he was so proud of. Lets just say that what came out of my mouth next was not a pleasure to listen to. What i am trying to get at is that not only do we need to reform our Governemtns policies but we need to educate our current hunters in this state as well.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 02:07 PM

DON, A GREAT COLUMN. IT REALLY CUTS YEARS OF MANAGMENT TO 15 MINUTES OF READING.
HAVING LIVED THROUGH EVERY BIT FROM JACK CALHOUN ON YOUR POST, OVERWHELMINGLY POINTS OUT ONE FACT. AS I HAVE SAID, AS BRENT MANNING HAS SAID, AS OTHER FORMER DIRECTORS HAVE SAID. A STABLE GUARENTEED UNTOUCHABLE FROM THE OUTSIDE, SOURCE OF FUNDING IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL CURE THIS PROBLEM.
THE MANAGMENT IS A BI-PRODUCT OF GREED, FROM LANDOWNERS SUPPORTED BY THE FARM BUREAU LOBBY, INSURANCE COMPANIES WHO THINK ALL DEER ARE THE PROBLEM, TO OUTFITTERS WHO ARE LIVING FOR TODAY AND NOT TOMORROW, A LOT OF THEM NOT EVEN ILLINOIS RESIDENTS, TO LEGISLATURES WHO VALUE THE BIG “BUCKS” FOR RE-ELECTION PURPOSES.
WE INDIVIDUALS, NO MATTER OUR INTEREST IN THE IDNR ARE BEING OVERRUN BY THE MONEY LOBBIES AND POLITICIANS.
LET’S GET THE BIG PROBLEM SOLVED NOW. STABLE FUNDING WILL ALLOW OUR PROFESSIONAL IDNR MANAGERS TO DO THEIR JOBS WITHOUT FEAR OF ANY KIND OF REPRISAL. NO FEAR OF A LOST JOB NOR FEAR OF A BUDGET REDUCTION BECAUSE THEY HAVE TOLD IT LIKE IT IS.
THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO DO IT. A NEW GOVERNOR WHO, NO DOUBT, WILL BE RUNNING IN 2010. IF QUINN WAS NOT ALREADY AWARE, THE GRANBERG APPOINTMENT HAS OPENED HIS EYES TO THE SILENT MAJORITY OUT HERE WHO COULD HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON HIS ELECTTION AS GOVERNOR.
YOU CAN CHANGE EVERY NAME IN EVERY POSITION IN THE IDNR WILDLIFE RESOURCES DIVISION TOMORROW AND NOTHING WILL CHANGE.
I URGE YOU AND WHOEVER ELSE IS OUT THERE TO JOIN ME AND A HOST OF OTHERS TO GET MOVING ON THE ISSUE OF FUNDING AND SOME TYPE OF COMMISSION TO OVERSEE THE OVERALL WELFARE OF THE IDNR.
I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR OVER 20 YEARS FOR THIS DAY.
THE TIME IS RIPE AND I’M FEARFUL THAT IF WE DON’T ACT NOW WE MAY NEVER GET ANOTHER OPPURTUNITY LIKE THIS, AT LEAST IN MY LIFETIME.
AGAIN, GOOD JOB!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 03:09 PM

Dirty polotics is exactly right Mr. Higgins. Why else would our state continuely appoint a director of the DNR whom has no business being in the position? It’s such a joke. They just keep filling the position with puppets. I feel totally helpless and I that feeling is unbearable. Sometimes it just makes you wish you could settle these disputes with your fists because debate doesn’t seem to get you any where.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 03:39 PM

Well said Don and absolutely correct!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 07:04 PM

I believe that the insurance companies are behind all this.  The insurance companies want to kill off the whole herd in Illinois and all states.  They pay a lot of money to the crooked politicians to get their votes to accomplish their goals.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/28 at 11:36 PM

If the hunting community does not examine its own mania over big bucks then it is overlooking the root of many of these other problems like limited access and commercial outfitting.  Even where land is not being leased, trophy hunters have stifled access via their territorial “possessions”.  The commercialism, glorification of the big rack, and competitive nature of trophy hunting are at the heart of much of the problem.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 08:31 AM

Excellent article Higgins.  I also agree with Brad, now is the time to act.  If Granberg is not removed as director Pat Quinn will not get my vote ever, and I will encourage everyone I know not to vote for him. 

This state has suffered enough and it’s time to put things on hold for a little bit, and actually work to rebuild the IDNR as well as the natural resources of Illinois.  It bothers me that we can close 7 state parks, but we can build a “Lincoln library” in Springfield.  They could have kept those books in an old building for all I care. 

My question to you guys is;  Don, Brad, Marc, KC, and a few others,  you guys are all respected Illinois hunters and are very active in the hunting community.  You guys do a fine job keeping us informed as to what’s going on and we want to know where do we go from here?  What can WE do as Illinois hunters and sportsmen?  I don’t mean to just dump this on you guys but who will lead us and who will be our voice?  We will stand with you and be heard but where do we start? 

I and many others appreciate all the efforts put forth by you guys and a few others not mentioned.  Thank you

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 09:08 AM

Don Higgins is 100% correct in this story, Politics have ruined this entire Nation and Dirty Politics is running rampant across this once great Nation.
It is a shame the crooked, gready Politicians couldn’t keep their hands off of Mother Nature.
It all comes down to money and dirty Politicians and Obamaland is the leading supplier of dirty Politicians!
The absolute WORSE TIME for an Antlerless season is when the Bucks have dropped their Antlers,a 5th grade Biology class can tell you this.
I think Chicago should be annexed to Canada and then Illinois can become a normal State again, eh?
Illinois needs to listen to the people paying their salaries and providing the money that a deer herd can even exist, all Deer hunters that are tired of not being taken seriously needs to stop buying a Hunting license and Deer tags next year and hit the crooked Politicians were it hurts, in the wallet!
This is the ONLY WAY that you can get these “Professionals” to listen!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 09:42 AM

Don, Great Read! But until ‘something’ positive happens…..things won’t change. Your remarks are mostly ‘dead on’....but they will fall on deaf ears.

We (sportsmen) are the minority in any decissions made now. It is all about money and politics! But yet it’s the sportsmen that bring that money in.

Things do need “changed”! We need back what we had 10 and 15 years ago. Our deer herd is suffering in many areas as for quality….and of lately quantity. EHD in 2007 and some in 2008 I think has reduced our Illinois deer herd to a dangerous level of low population in both sexes and age structure.

Illinois still has some big bucks and some great older doe and usually a good spring fawn birthing. We need to maintain a solid level of healthy deer state wide.

Politics in Illinois needs removed from the Illinois deer herd…..and other outdoor activities. We have departments within Illinois politics to do just that….work for the people and not for political monentary gain.

Farm Bureau needs to butt out and keep their business in their own membership….and not of Illinois as a whole….when most aren’t members of Country Company or The Farm Bureau. They have NO RIGHT….nor should they get any ‘audience’ with Illinois DNR and/or the Political Arena….they are just a “For Profit” company with their nose where it don’t belong. ‘Wana-be’ politicians and ‘strong arm’ tactics that they use and I am really tired of it!(can you tell I don’t like the FB?)

Deer Task Force was/is a joke from the get-go! But yet they got catered too by politics! They were brought on by the FB and had their nose in things that they should never of had them in. Now more than ever….we do need a Game Commission in Illinois! A organized group of ‘sportsmen’ for ‘sportsmen’ all across Illinois. With the ‘head’ being appointed from within the ranks….

Don, I hope your article gets lots of attention. I thank you for your efforts for ME and for You and for ALL sportsmen that play in Illinois….For our children and their children, etc. down thru time for the future generations that follow.

Herm -}}}}}}}}}}———————->

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 11:06 AM

I agree with all of this 110% and please let me know what I can do to help with any matters concerning our Deer herd and how it is managed before its to late for our quailty Deer herd and deer hunting as we have known it to be.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 11:32 AM

Don, a very well thought out article, and I believe most passionate deer hunters in this state agree with most of what you are saying.  Also, I applaud your effort in using the fact that you have become a well known deer hunter for something good.  Refreshing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 11:58 AM

HIggins i agree with your opinions and facts but its pretty clear that the retards in charge of this state can not see our side.  They dont care about our hunting.  They care about people who have the money.  If you have millions at stake in this then you will get heard.  If not… They dont care.  If they cared would there be a moron in charge of the dnr?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 12:26 PM

Higgins after reading the article i believe in several things on here.  I believe in a sept antlerless season in counties deemed suited.  This is an excellent idea for bringing the herd to a better ratio before the rut. Its also more seasonal for hunters with cool mornings.  I have also herd from a buddy who feels the farmers would go for this since this is about the time they are noticing crop loss.  I do think this HAS to be monitored close since the herd is getting more scattered due to increased hunting pressure in some areas.  Biologically speaking… this is clearly the right choice over late season.

I am also in favor of a more regional management system.  Every county around me had a decreased kill by as much at 15 percent this year.  This needs to be taken into account in a management plan and not just taken into the numbers of the whole state.  Any management plan in which tries to manage the state as a whole will fail. I think this should also be set for NR tag allotment as well.  There is no reason west central IL should take the brunt of the NR impact.  It is extremely difficult to manage such diverse habitat as a whole ie limited habitat around champain, abundance of habitat, pike, And in the middle, southern IL.  Some places cant handle the free for all approach.

Not that any of these recommendations would be listed to since they do not propose more money for the politicians to steal

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 12:58 PM

I’ve been a fan of Don Higgins for awhile now.  Since we aren’t seeing any “political” influences commenting here, nor insurance execs.on this topic, as well as outfitter CEO’s commenting, on this subject matter, we can only assume the information posted here is dead on accurate.  I personally believe this to be very accurate.  I think a “task force” of
resident Illinois deer hunters need to be “created”, and all of these intelligent comments put to work, to head to springfield if need be, when its the proper time, and get this thing UNDER CONTROL.  It is evident that the current DNR officials are either paid off or told to shut up, by the powers that be.  By God, we can’t just sit back and do nothing.  This country wasn’t built to its once upon a time great nation status only to see its people just sitting by idly, in times of real need.  The current politicians we have are NOT representing us.  We absolutely need representation.  IT is high time to organize and get this thing handled.  By the way, I nominate Don Higgins to CHAIR the new board, (Il Deer Mgt Task Force 2009).  What say ye, fellow resident Illinoisians?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/29 at 03:54 PM

i

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/30 at 01:53 PM

Don.
Question? In your travels what state do you think has the best deer management policy. Maybe we could send that info. to Springfield and with the new Gov. they jest might take heed. We can always hope. Thanks

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/30 at 02:00 PM

Don Higgins view on the current deer herd and Illinois politics echoes my beliefs to a tee.The state of Illinois has no idea where they actually are on our current deer herd .The only numbers being reviewed are dollars but that’s another story.
Anyone who lives for deer hunting has no difficulty coming to the conclusion that the deer herd is suffering.EHD has had a dramatic reduction in our deer numbers in downstate Illinois.
These latest supposed improvements may very well be the straw that breaks the camels back.How can we talk about creating new improvements to managing the deer numbers when they are consistently dropping every year.Not to mention the quality.It’s been my observation that the DNR seems to be about two years behind on issues within the herd.
When the numbers and the quality is gone then we can all pay the price.The non-residents will simply slip into the newest hottest state and continue hunting quality bucks while us resident hunters slowly put it back together again for another onslaught Illinois politics.That’s if you’re fortunate enough to have a place to hunt.It would be interesting to know how many of the members of the Task Force were actually hunters.Hunters that not only live it but breath it and have a true appreciation of the opportunity to beat a mature buck one on one.I’ll answer that one for you-all   ( 0 ).Good article Don and keep on writing.You’re right on target with everything I stand for.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/03 at 10:18 PM

I have been wanting to speak up on this subjectevery since the days of John Kube.Quite frankly i never felt like I had anyone to listen.Most hunters are like most people,as long as they have 4 permits,they are happy today.Heck with tomorrow.We are blessed with some of the best whitetail potential in Nort America.It once was the best whitetail hunting,before the state was allowed to compromise it for the money. It sickens me to open the newspaper and see the state solicitinglandowners with tax payers money to lease their land.I am a landowner,incidentally.You can turn the page and another article is asking what happened to resident liscence sales.The state is wanting the revenues from outfitters and land owners,yet are baffled when residents quit buying liscences.Hmmm,I wander if their is a correlation here?The deer task force is a pollitical excuse to sell more tags.Theywant big money from the non residents,while trying to look like they are helping resident hunters with hunter access.Hunter access is their own invention.There are probably more insurance agents and farm bureau members on the task force than hunters.These are self serving entities.If they are not making enough money,then they should change professions,like the rest of the world would do.Do you think your insurance rates or a loaf of bread will go down when they have decimated the deer herd? Actually they already have reduced the deer.Just look at the deer harvest numbers or grab your bow and head off into the woods for 2 weeks.For the first time I dont even know where to go look for a tropy set of sheds.And no,this letter is not about sour grapes,I killed the only trophy buck I seen this year.We had better wake up and unite from Chicago to Cairo before it gets any later.Unless we do unite,we are at the mercy of the state,insurance companies and farm bureau.At the present rate the non residents will quit showing up and resident hunters will continue to decline.The deer herd will degress untill hunting pressure declines.The deer herd will increrase and hunters will also.Is this the way we want our deer herd managed?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/09 at 08:59 AM

Don,
  Great article & 100% right on.I’m hoping Marc Miller can take back our D.N.R. deer management program and restore our states deer hunting future.We all need to contact our states representatives and demand some changes as tax paying citizens who are concerned about our states deer hunting.This problem continues to go downhill fast with no resolution in sight.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/13 at 09:18 PM

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