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Nature Conservancy land will be offered for deer hunting

February 18, 2013 at 07:36 PM

Peoria Journal Star

LEWISTOWN — When 35-year-old Alex Leezer of Canton first heard Emiquon will lease land for deer hunting next fall, he was dismayed.

He is not exactly a vegetarian. He hunts. What bothered him was the idea of private sportsmen paying to seek deer on public grounds — land he thought was preserved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

But there is a reason this area is sometimes called the Emiquon Complex. Put the emphasis on “complex.”

Chautaqua National Wildlife Refuge is just across the Illinois River. Dickson Mounds State Museum is next door. And there are actually two Emiquons: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy owns Emiquon Preserve.

“It is confusing,” said Jason Beverlin, Illinois River Program Director for the Conservancy. “We’re called Emiquon. They’re called Emiquon.”

When he learned the land in question is Conservancy ground, Leezer’s concerns evaporated. He hunts on public land, but he knows many people prefer private.

“That’s the nature of it,” Leezer said. “Hunting has become an industry. There are people who make a profit from it.”

Working in all 50 states and 35 countries, the Conservancy is not-for-profit. But it still has costs to offset, and perhaps more importantly, a thriving deer herd to manage. Most residents of central Illinois know high deer numbers mean trouble for cars and crops. At Emiquon, more than 350,000 native hardwood trees and shrubs have been planted. Deer browsing and rubbing has damaged some of them.

The Conservancy says it has long considered hunting a management tool, but this is the first time since the Emiquon property was purchased in 2000 that deer hunting will be allowed. Proposals are being accepted for the lease of up to 1,200 acres of the 6,700 acres here. Beverlin said he’s responded to more than 40 requests for information, but “can’t even guess” how many people will actually turn in proposals.

“We’re going to look at the proposals that come in and consider all the factors,” he said.

That’s fine with Leezer, even if he doesn’t plan to put in a bid of his own.

“As a sportsman,” Leezer said, “the more the merrier.”


Proposals for deer leases at Emiquon Preserve are a competitive bid. A single lease is preferred. Among conditions to be negotiated, you will need to have liability insurance, provide harvest records and get approval for all stands or blinds. No subleases are allowed.

Deadline is March 4.

For more information, contact Jason Beverlin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or The Nature Conservancy, 11304 N. Prairie Road, Lewistown, Ill. 61542. 


Terry Bibo can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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