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Open letter to the deer task force

September 11, 2008 at 09:09 AM

DNR biologist quotes

  • From a Bloomington Pantagraph article published Nov. 11, 2007.

  • Recently deer managers have had to contend with an economic factor that can affect whitetail harvest. More outfitters, individuals and private hunting groups are leasing hunting land. The effect is to create deer refuges where intense pressure is put on trophy bucks.

    At the same time other hunters who historically had access aren’t allowed on the property. The combination of too few hunters and too few harvested does is causing whitetail numbers to soar in some areas, [Paul] Shelton said.

    DNR’s response has been to boost the number of antlerless only permits in those counties, including the “Golden Triangle” in west-Central Illinois and in Southern Illinois near the Shawnee National Forest. Still, many of those opportunities go unused because of a lack of places to hunt and more interest in deer with antlers, he said.

  • From an Outdoor Illinois article written by Tom Micetich (DNR Deer Project Manager).

  • Some properties remain open to hunters but landowners desiring to provide quality, trophy-only or buck-only hunting lowers hunter numbers from historic levels and make does more inaccessible. These under-hunted properties contribute significantly to DNR’s deer population control effort problems.

    Licensed hunting outfitter operations now involve more than 500,000 acres statewide—and this does not include lands in private hunting leases, an increasingly common practice used to secure hunting ground by small groups or individuals. Landowners leasing their land to outfitters or other individuals contribute to localized deer problems when operators under-hunt deer on the property. Individual efforts to “grow the herd” to increase client satisfaction may, at times, contribute to major, localized deer problems.

    Buck or trophy-only deer hunting operations do nothing to control deer numbers. While management plans for these operations may call for harvesting a number of female deer, often they fall short of the mark. The targeted number of bucks is seldom missed, however.

    I’d like to address the proposals that are being presented by the Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control, of which you are a member. While we all recognize that deer overpopulation can be a big problem, we all need to start with a good understanding of the issues.

    What is overpopulation? Does it mean the same thing to a hunter as it does an insurance agent? Does a casual wildlife observer think the same thing as a farmer? I’ve seen hunters themselves argue over whether or not a given area is “overpopulated.” Looking at the data that has been presented by the DNR, one would assume that the only way to view deer overpopulation is through data supplied by car/deer collisions.

    But if Illinois has one of the best deer herds in the world, why are we letting the insurance companies dictate the management of our great deer herd? The DNR, in an online survey, is asking for our opinion on how best to manage it. Why don’t we have qualified wildlife biologists who can do it themselves so that we can maintain our reputation for quality in IL? We shouldn’t need task forces or public opinion surveys every few years. Our biologists should be telling us what their management plans are, and we should have a way to implement them, as well as a way to penalize those who are profiting from mismanagement.

    I live in Macon County. Just a few short years ago, the DNR felt that Macon County was falling behind the rest of the state with their deer population. They proposed a shortened archery season to take the stress off the shrinking deer herd. For 5 years, bowhunters couldn’t shoot a doe the entire month of October in 5 counties in east-central IL. Now here we are just a few years removed from those restrictions, and these counties are already seeing bonus-antlerless permits being issued, a sign that the DNR wants more does killed. With our limited amount of cover, and close proximity of large public hunting lands to Decatur, I’m surprised that our car-deer accidents aren’t high enough to make us an “overpopulated” county.

    So the DNR presents its latest case on the overpopulation theory, drawing attention to the number of deer-vehicle accidents (DVA’s) per mile driven. It’s no surprise that the most overpopulated counties in IL are mostly located in the west-central and southern parts of the state. It’s also no surprise that the majority of these counties are under the control of commercial hunting operations.

    According to recent statistics from the DNR, there are about 270 licensed outfitters in the state that control 1,004,028 acres (2006 numbers). As a comparison to that million acre number, there’s about 550,000 acres of public hunting land in IL (and shrinking every day that our governor is in office). That’s an average of 3,700 acres per outfitter, and nobody wants to address access issues! The number of hunters who hunt with outfitters went from 8,473 in 2005 to 11,182 in 2006, a 32 percent increase in just one year. Keep in mind, this is only licensed outfitters. It’s estimated by DNR that “at least” another million acres are tied up by non-licensed “outfitters” who were granted an exemption under Ad Rule 640 due to lobbying by the Illinois Farm Bureau. The latter group is made up of outfitters who own their own land and sell weekly hunts and provide outfitting services, but are not required to be licensed; thus, no management plan and no restrictions for these types of outfitters.

    In 2005 (the last year the DNR had data), those 8,473 hunters took 2,244 bucks and 2,598 does. The doe number is most likely skewed by the existing late-season antlerless harvest that is done by mostly residents called in to clean up after the typical outfitter client leaves with a trophy buck. Still, that’s not a lot of deer, in total, for a million acres. That equates to one DEER killed for every 207 acres, and one DOE killed for every 386 acres, which still includes inflated numbers for resident-only late-season.

    My guess is that as much as 80 percent of the outfitter does are killed in the late-season. I’ve heard people tell of outfitters who won’t allow does to be killed at the end of a person’s hunt, or during certain times of the season (like late-October through mid-November). Look at how high the late-season harvest numbers were in 2007, in the famous “Golden Triangle” of west-central Illinois, after the regular gun season harvest was down double-digit percentages in a lot of those counties. This shows a growing trend to limit access by gun hunters who have typically controlled the deer herd. While the regular gun season harvest continues to decline, the late-winter season continues to rise. This is the exact opposite of the way the DNR wants to manage the herd, yet we still allow it to continue. They’re allowing the most overpopulated county in the state to peak at the worst time of the year, when deer are on the move during the rut. If you want to reduce the car-deer accidents, you have to remove does before the time when they occur. You can’t expect to reduce them by increasing the harvest in January.

    A DNR employee reported that one outfitter controlled 6,000 acres, and his clients took 8 bucks and 0 does. Is that sound management? If this is the case, why can’t we impose penalties to those who choose to profit from mismanagement? Under Ad Rule 640 there’s not enough “teeth” in it to do much. While the outfitter regulations do call for management plans, there’s never been a citation for not taking enough does. Yet, the DNR admits that these areas are the most overpopulated!!!

    Now we apply this mismanagement to the latest DNR presentation to the Task Force. Below is a slide from DNR’s presentation to the Task Force, looking at the areas that they consider the most overpopulated. It’s only based on car-deer accidents and the number of miles driven. Chicago and northern IL have the most accidents… but they also have more traffic and more miles driven every day. Pike County has a lot more accidents per miles driven.

    Illinois Outdoors

    Below are the top 10 counties where outfitters are located, according to the 2007 data on DNR’s website. I came up with 263 licensed outfitters according to those stats, as opposed to the number quoted from DNR being 270. Listed below is the county, the number of LICENSED outfitters in that county, the percent of all outfitters in that county (Pike has nearly 1 out of 5 of the total outfitters in IL), and the level of overpopulation. The color (at the end) is the level of severity of overpopulation from the map above. Red is the worst, then orange, then yellow, then white.


    County….Outfitters….. Pct. of total…..Overpopulation Level
    Pike….........51….............19.4…...........................Red
    Greene….....15…..............5.7…............................Red
    Adams….....12…..............4.6…............................Red
    Brown…......10…..............3.8….............................Red
    Morgan…....10…..............3.8….............................Yellow
    Schuyler…....9…..............3.4…............................Red
    White…........8…...............3.0…............................Orange
    Calhoun….....8…...............3.0…............................Red
    Fulton…........8…...............3.0…............................Red
    Hancock…....8…...............3.0…............................Orange

    Look at how good the counties on the slide line up with the outfitters who are only shooting ON AVERAGE, ONE DOE FOR EVERY 386 ACRES! On the map, there are 17 counties listed in red. Seven of those counties (41 percent) are in the top 10 outfitter counties in the state.

    If there’s a problem there, let’s fix it. Let’s not shove poor proposals down the throats of the rest of the state, when those plans aren’t going to do one bit of good in the areas that need the work.

    My whole point is, if the overpopulation issue is taking place in counties being controlled by outfitters, why aren’t we addressing THAT issue? Where is the enforcement of any kind of outfitter regulations? And why are landowners exempt from regulation, when they contribute to management problems as much as the licensed outfitters do? The bottom line is, outfitter clients don’t shoot enough does and the locals who would shoot does don’t have the access to do it. Which brings us to another point. Since access is the key in almost every single county where we have overpopulation problems, why does the DNR think it’s “Mission Impossible” to even work on it? Why do we need a DNR if we’re only going to let the insurance companies (through car/deer accident data) manage our deer harvest? Why can’t we get professional biologists to manage the deer herd? What the heck are the biologists doing in Springfield, if all they’re doing is managing the deer herd from insurance statistics and asking the public for better ways to do it? And why are we basing our decisions on insurance statistics that are 2 years old, when the counties with the biggest problems are the ones that were hit the hardest with EHD last year? Wouldn’t that have had an impact?

    Those are the questions that need to be answered BEFORE we can come up with a resolution to any perceived overpopulation problem in the rest of the state. Don’t penalize the other 95 counties for the mismanagement that the DNR has allowed to happen in counties that are heavily outfitted. Fix those problems first. Then get a biologically sound management plan in place that focuses on deer management and not simply a reduction in the number of car-deer accidents. And any changes to hunting seasons need to focus on INCREASING hunter opportunity, not taking it from one group to give to another or reducing it altogether.

    As for the Task Force proposals themselves, here’s my opinion:

  • 1) Late-winter season. I’m all for increasing hunter opportunity. If it increases to 7-9 days, I’m all for it, as long as bowhunters get to hunt that time as well. Bowhunters typically can hunt until mid-January for bucks or does. I assume this would stay the same, and run concurrently with the special late-season, although the enforcement of making sure gun hunters shoot only does would be an issue with no check stations (at any time of the year).  I DON’T like this being the only option, before we really mess things up with more intrusive changes. Let’s face it, increasing the January season won’t make a huge difference in overall doe harvest. We already have one weekend in January to hunt with any weapon (except archery equipment). Nobody’s going to take time off work in January to hunt does after an already long 3 ½ month season. They’ve already had more than enough time to take all the deer they want. There’s no incentive to get them out there again. Their freezer’s are most likely full by then. For effective management, does need to be taken in the early season. It puts less stress on the bucks during the rut (because they’re not trying to breed as many does), increases the intensity of the rut (because the bucks are competing for fewer does), and gets more deer off the roads during the peak time for car-deer accidents.
  •  

  • 2) That being said, September is the best time to implement any kind of new doe-only season. Why would you remove bowhunters from the woods in 90 percent of the state where there’s no population problem? The areas that need the does killed were listed above, but the outfitters aren’t going to let gun hunters trample over their woods a week or so before the rut. Two days in October is a non-issue for outfitters. Outfitters typically book hunts 5.5 days at a time - Sunday afternoon through Friday evening or Monday morning through Saturday at noon. AT BEST, outfitters will only be out half day of business. With the peak of the rut just around the corner and their highest paid clients (who pay more to hunt the pre-rut and the rut) coming in the Monday after this proposed new gun season, there’s absolutely no way an outfitter is going to let anyone mess up their areas to hunt does and scare off the bucks. I’ve seen numerous outfitters state this already. Outfitters will even use this as an advertising ploy, stating to their clients that they’re specifically NOT allowing hunting during that season. So now you’ve locked out bowhunters in 90 percent of the state that didn’t need more does harvested, and in the areas that DO need more does killed you won’t kill anything more. That makes no sense. In addition, bowhunters are already killing 2-3,000 deer that weekend. This is not an incremental season, it’s replacing one season with another one, that STILL won’t be effective due to a lack of access in the areas that need it most.

  • Again, September is the best option. You could open archery season on Sept. 15 like other states do. Or you could open the weekend of gun hunting the last weekend of September before archery opens on October 1st. Either way is not that drastic. Many states have early seasons. The weather is NOT an issue. It’s no hotter October 1st when bowhunting season opens, then it would be the week before when they could have a gun season. I heard from one person that the DNR is afraid to intrude on squirrel hunters during this time. What’s least intrusive, hunting alongside squirrel hunters who have already been in the woods for 8 weeks (season opens August 1st), or kicking out bowhunters for a weekend in an already established season? Why is this so hard to understand? You can accomplish all the management goals by going to a September option, without any of the other problems associated with the proposed October date.

    This whole process has been rushed from the beginning, and now the DNR and the Task Force feel we need to panic and implement SOMETHING to say we’ve accomplished a goal. But I don’t think anyone can even agree on the problems, let alone on the solution to it. Why not inject some reason into it, and come up with some good plans to make it work? The way it stands, the proposals are not well thought-out, and in most cases won’t make a difference in the areas we need it. In addition, it drives a wedge in the hunting community by taking opportunities away from one group and giving it to another group.

     

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

    Amen brother!

    Posted by deerhead on 09/11 at 10:46 AM

    Wow! Incredibly well stated, now we need to get someone to listen.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 11:33 AM

    I agree with the September archery or gun seasons for does in areas that still have a deer herd. (Red & Orange areas) Please keep the DNR as far from Northern Illinois as possible, they have already ruined out herd (White area Winnebago County) for years to come. The obvious problem here in WN county is that there are ZERO public hunting oportunities for deer hunting. The forest preserves are buying up 100s of acres a year that we have no access to. Perhaps to raise more deer that we can’t hunt?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 12:01 PM

    Speaking of access as a problem. I have lost over 25 different farms that I have hunted since I was a young hunter. Each one has been either leased out to outfitters,sold to hunting groups,or leased to groups of hunters. Several farmers will accept only cash, and I wonder how many actually pay taxes on income from this practice. Meanwhile, outfitters keep leasing up all the best spots and have bucks only rules of 140 class or bigger.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 05:25 PM

    Kevin,
      I learned alot from your dissertation here.  Well done.  It is apparent you have studied this issue.  I appreciate you putting it in such precise, clear perspective.  Thanks and please by all means keep up the great work.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 05:45 PM

    I would like to make Kevin Chapman in charge of the Deer population Control. Best article written on this subject! You should really voice your perspective to as many officals as possible. Very Smart Man you get my vote!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11 at 09:27 PM

    i can tell you for a fact that these are great ideas but won’t work in the adams,hancock, pike area’s where the deer are thick,the outfitters are now going door to door leasing everything they can get their hands on and there is very very little public ground for us little guys.these guys aren’t going to pay big bucks and shoot does period.outfitting has exploded under our noses and the writings already on the wall,you’re either going to own it or you’re going to pay to hunt in the near future.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 01:23 AM

    Amen Bob!! Get the out of state outfitter back where they belong, in there own state. Give us back our woods we have hunted for years. We the locals will take more does than anyone. GIVE US BACK OUR LANDS!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 06:01 AM

    I filled out the on-line survey.  What a joke. Almost every question was loaded and I had to add additional comments to qualify my answers.  The whole survey is slanted to the mile driven to accidents theory.  Our DNR has gone from one of the best to one of the worst.  Obviously going to 25,000 non res archery tags was not the answer.  Late winter season is not the answer.  How many of those deer will be shed bucks?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 08:07 AM

    Dave T you are right about Winnebago County. Forest Preserve gets the ground and it is a deer sanctuary.  No hunting.  In Boone County the Conservation District allows limited bow hunting.  Yet Boone County Conservation District and Winnebago County Forest Preserve properties are the epicenter of CWD in IL.  Sharp shooting over bait at night with high powered rifles by DNR or County employees is acceptable but hunting is not.  I think we need to have gun hunters in the forest preserves at the same time gun season is occurring.  What would it mean 7 days of shutting down the areas to the general public.  Hunters in the forest preserves when the deer get chased in there by hunters outside the forest preserve.  I have hunted deer in Winnebago adjacent to a forest preserve and watched the deer run into the preserve when other people were driving them. 

    Rock Cut State Park allows handicap gun hunting, but not able bodied gun hunting.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 09:32 AM

    I like the open letter, and it expresses many of my opinions as well.  The big population issue with outfitters is that their clients don’t shoot does.  Make the outfiters meet a quota of does shot, depending on the county and amount of land in question.  With the amount of money at stake, these guys will find a way to meet theie quotas, likely through access for local hunters.  An early season gun antlerless only is meaningless, and is just a way for the DNR to sell more permits.  But these permits mean nothing to hunters without access.  The other problem with antlerless seasons is just what it sounds like.  Shooting an antlerless deer accomplishes absolutely nothing in terms of population control.  These special seasons and quotas for outfitters need to be for does, not “antlerless deer”.  Any hunter with minimal   experience and a cheap pair of binoculars can tell the difference between a button buck and a doe.  Any hunter with NO experience should be in the company of a hunter who has some.  I speak as both a land owner and a hunter.  In the four or five years since outfitters leased up significant ground in my area, doe populations have EXPLODED!!  They were formerly held in check by local hunters.
      Other states laugh at Illinois’ greedy approach to deer hunting.  Why do all the outfitters pack in to Illinois?  Unlimited nonresident permits guarantee them a profitable venture.  With guaranteed profits, no wonder local hunters are losing all their traditional hunting spots.  It is hard to calculate the number of spots I have lost in just the last twenty years.  Limit the out of state access and increase the local access.  That will bring the deer herd back in line.  All the antlerless permits in the world don’t do any good if the hunters have no place to hunt.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 12:45 PM

    As a land owner, I would be much more inclined to allow someone to hunt my ground with an early season anterless tag, then let someone hunt it with a late season tag.

    It’s a lot easier to mistake a 1.5-3.5 year old buck that’s dropped his antlers for a doe in late season.  Also in an early season, the yearling/fawns will still be a lot smaller than the does, so if you shoot a big anterless deer in September, you’re pretty much guarunteed it’s a doe.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 04:16 PM

    What a great report, and by the way Kevin, thanks for all the time you spent on this.  I am with everyone else on this topic.  What incentives do outfitters have to shoot does?  Zero!!!! Thats not what thier clients are coming to Illinois for.  Hell, half of these outfitters probably aren’t Illinois residents, so they really don’t care about this state. Its all about the money for them. I was a little disturbed to read Lampe’s article today on how Brad Hatterman’s deer is gonna be in Field and Stream, won’t be long and he will lose his hunting spot.  Call me paranoid, but I no longer show my deer pictures off in fear of ground being leased next to me.  We have always used sound judgement when it came time to manage the doe population which means we shoot as many as we can no matter what time it is.  Are nonresidents willing to do this on a outfitted hunt?  Doubt it…
    Thats why the DNR’s solution is so flawed.  Hammer the outfitters and the nonresident landowners who hunt 14-21 days of the year. Then have a refuge full of food on thier land.  Don’t expect us to clean up your mess, we have been doing it for years and the problem has only been made worse by the increase in Nonresident permits. HAMMER THE OUTFITTERS AND NON-RESIDENT LANDOWNERS….. Make them pay for every doe left unharvested and for every 2 1/2 year old buck that thier clients harvest to take back to thier home state to show off their Illinois giant.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 04:22 PM

    since my family has lost almost all their hunting spots over the years to outfitters, we have been going on hunts to other states and spending our money there. if we can’t find a place to hunt in Illinois, we’ll be forced to go elsewhere or just give up hunting, which is not an option. It is starting to remind me of the old RobinHood days. You will be either a Lord or Baron and a landholder or you will be RobinHood.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 05:31 PM

    “Make the outfiters meet a quota of does shot, depending on the county and amount of land in question.  With the amount of money at stake, these guys will find a way to meet theie quotas.”

    And:

    “Make them pay for every doe left unharvested”

    BINGO

    How about, we jack the price up on an out of state license up by $100.  Then, if the outfitter’s client registers a doe, they get to keep the meat and they get a check for $100 refund on their license?  Might work.  I suppose it would take check stations though—which is more and more appearing to be a huge part of the problem.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/12 at 06:34 PM

    Kevin,

    I hope you presented this to one of the deer task force meetings. You have done your homework and it shows it very well done. It is really interesting on the outfitter/deer herd ratio. I think a early doe hunt in Sept would be a great idea. Keep up the good work. Scott

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/13 at 07:41 AM

    Mr. Chapman,

    Well researched - super job.

    However, I do feel that your opinion on Task Force #1 is off. Shooting does before intensifies the rut, making the bucks move more, increasing their chances at being shot. I disagree with you analysis that an early gun season makes the rut, “less stressful”.

    Still, GREAT job.

    Posted by ICALL2MUCH on 09/13 at 10:29 AM

    the whole problem starts with the outfitters and the hunting tv shows that paint this picture that u arent a hunter if u dont shoot a 150+ buck so i quit watching them and the hunting mags that only tell “secrets” on how to kill a buck but what about the first time hunters that just wanna get that first kill out of the way more articles on doe “secrets” would be good!!! i used to livein quincy….. the heart of the golden triangle and down there… there is hardly a place to hunt without paying 3000 dollars but fortunately i found a place that was 500 acres for 150 dollars a year to hunt shotgun or archery this season and i was the last guy they were gonna let on so there was gonna be 7 guys on it so i called to tell them i was gonna be down to scout it out and was informed that the deal was off that 3 guys from st. louis offered them 10,000 dollars for the season to hunt trophies so the overpopulation will continue no matter what you do because money talks because the landowner told me that last year 6 guys killed a total of 43 does and 4 bucks and all the guys were locals so they were filling their freezers and their families freezers that couldnt hunt anymore so that is all gone also!!!! but this is only one of MANY horror stories. the state should stop sending non-resident tags for our public spots because these are the only spots the little guy has left if they wanna come here make them pay an outfitter since they arent helping the doe population anyway put all the bad apples in one basket or make a rule that if you are going to be an outfitter you must own the land that you are outfitting and that would stop all the leasing for thousands of dollars cuz the little guy wouldnt have it to offer and the landowner probably wouldnt want to sell their farm just so an outfitter can hunt it. And the option from above to go to another state to hunt is not an option for me because you are just doing to another little guy what is happening to you because if i spend a bunch of money im going to get my money’s worth so it just spreads the problem we are all trying to solve!!! I dont think an early gun season is a good option because that would just spook all the deer for the bow hunters and in the seven days already allowed not including the late season gun hunters kill more deer than bow hunters do in 3 months and the early gun hunt would just decrease the bow kill numbers so the number of deer you did kill early with a gun is probably the same number the bow kill numbers would go down so you wouldnt be gaining any ground! the whole problem could be resolved if every hunter saw a doe or yearling as the same size trophy as a 190 class buck but we are all in this mind set that if you kill a doe you are not equal, but i dont know about you but i still get “buck fever” when a yearling walks into range and thats what hunting is all about!!!!antlers are just a bonus….. they dont go very good with potatoes!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/13 at 10:34 PM

    Lets get back to less out of state permits say back to 12,500 as before.  Then raise the fee to 1,000 and all is solved. REAL EASY PEROID!!!  They will still come, there would be less outfitters, then more does would get shot cause residents would be able to get access to more property with less out of state influence, and everyones concern more does shot and more bucks to hunt.  Think about that as your solution cause I like it!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/13 at 11:26 PM

    IL needs a team of DEER BIOLOGISTS. DVAs are not a good indicator of population. We’ll never get the right folks in place because there is no money.

    Posted by SILOUTDOORS on 09/14 at 04:02 AM

    Thank you Kevin Chapman for writing a well thought out, informative letter that is full of factual information.  The side panel says it all -  “Buck or trophy-only deer hunting operations do nothing to control deer numbers” and yet the IDNR, run by patronage people, instead of qualified resource professionals, wants us the citizens to find a way to solve the increasing deer populations.  I thank I can speak for all residents hunters…..“Find a way to get us on that property and we will…..”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/14 at 07:25 AM

    I am all for raising the price of Non-resident tags again, if I go west I get stuck paying a premium to hunt on land that already belongs to all of us (BLM, NFS), so if non-residents want to come to Illinois and bag a buck, then pay some more bucks.
    We as Illinoisians suffer in many ways when it comes to the outfitting business and then we are the ones that are subjected to cleaning up the mess that has been created.  I see it every year when I head south to a buddies place to hunt, I overheard one outfitter state that he needed 200 does shot of his leases, think it ever was accomplished, hell no it wasn’t because its only bowhunted and after the rut they shut down. Slam the nonresident landowners and outfitters for their inefficient deer management.  I am sick of hearing of the BS that we residents have to put up with do to the greediness of these outfitters who have put 9-10 locals out of a place to hunt.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/14 at 12:52 PM

    i remember when deer antlers were all cut off and nailed on a barn or put on a board.its too bad money has gotten to be the driving factor behind deer hunting,its all about the rack for too many people.i know of an outfitter in illinois that threw five bucks in the ditch after they caped out the head.now getting back to lessening the deer herd,one thing not discussed is choice of caliber..etc etc. i’m not sure most people are aware of double oo buckshot.this stuff is bad ass,there are 15 pieces of buckshot and they will knock a moose on his ass.they’re much safer than high power as they’re only lethal out to 35-40 yards with a full choke,i think they were initially outlawed back when the deer population was thin but now that its over the top,i’m saying legalize it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/14 at 01:21 PM

    Great article.  Too bad we don’t have more like you, Kevin.  Seems to me that there must be a way to force these outfitters to demonstrate a set doe kill prior to issuing buck tags or outfitter licenses for that matter.  They should be able to set up check stations in these “hot” areas to verify doe kill mid-sept thru mid-oct and then issue antlered deer tags if the quotas are met. 
    The simple fact of the matter is Blago has gutted our once great DNR and reduced it to a PO box with some office staff.  We are now reaping what he sowed.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/15 at 08:28 AM

    The doe population exploded when all the out of State outfitters came to Illinois. They leased up most of the hunting grounds that many of us hunted for years. Now we the locals have no were to hunt. State ground is about all we have left. Have you tried to hunt with hundreds of hunter in these small tracts of land. It is no fun. Just another prime example of how money can really change things. It’s sad that myself, my sons, your sons and there sons will someday have to hang the bows and stop hunting because we can afford too or we have no where to hunt. Sadly land owners have the taste of big dollars and it will never be the same. I can remember going to the farms we hunted and helping the farmer around the farm. It wasn’t much but it was a bond between people not the almighty dollar.
    I guess my point if not found in the above statements is give us back our hunting ground and we the simple people of this great hunting state will control the doe population like we have done in the years past.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/15 at 09:36 AM

    kevin good article and i agree with most of it, however it is unfair to tell a landowner or anyone else how to make their money. we as hunters can only do our part on the land we have permission to hunt on.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/15 at 08:35 PM

    This will give you some idea of what we hunters are facing. Peabody Coal Co. is selling over 2800 acres in divided tracts in Fulton Co.(Golden Triangle). When I was a kid, this land was considered waste land and you couldn’t give it away and the banks wouldn’t loan any money on it. Today,the add has a picture of a giant buck advertising trophy whitetail,turkey, and goose hunting. Price avg is $4,900/acre.and the outfitters are falling all over themselves to buy it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/25 at 06:35 PM

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