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Illinois hunting and fishing

Wacky critters in central Illinois

November 16, 2008 at 02:28 AM

What do black-bellied whistling ducks, a cinnamon raccoon and a partial albino pheasant have in common?

All three oddities were shot recently by groups that included central Illinois hunters.

First to the whistling ducks, a very rare species seldom seen in Illinois. As a result, most waterfowlers would probably not be able to identify these natives of the southern U.S. and South America.

But Josh Stafford is not most hunters. As an Illinois Natural History Survey research scientist at the Forbes Biological Station near Havana his job is to study ducks. He also hunts.

Last Sunday in a Mason County wetland he combined both pursuits when a group of odd-colored birds passed overhead. Even Stafford was uncertain what he saw, though he actually said, “Those look like whistling ducks.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Confirmation came only after the dog started retrieving five of the colorful ducks, which are typically non-migratory and have white patches on their wings. How they wound up here is uncertain, though there is one record of a whistling duck at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge and a sighting this summer at the Hennepin-Hopper wetlands.

“With a group of that size I can only imagine they were wild birds that somehow got terribly off course,” Stafford said. “To have a group of about 12-15 birds pass over us was incredible. It’s the weirdest hunting experience I’ve ever had.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

More common but also rare are cinnamon-colored raccoons like the one shot Nov. 8 by veteran coon hunters Ken Parr of Metamora (left) and Ron ‘Hound Dog’ Henderson of East Peoria (right). Joining them on the hunt was Parr’s 14-year-old nephew, Ben (middle).

“In my lifetime I’ve killed four of those, but that’s the lightest one ever,” Parr said. “He had pink on the bottom of his feet and it was hard to see him in the tree.”

The only drawback on cinnamon coons is that they are worth very little on the fur market. But Ben Parr plans to have the coon mounted.

Illinois hunting and fishing

As for the light-colored pheasant, it was shot 90 miles west of Wichita, Kan. by a group of hunters that included Tim Sefried of Elmwood. The bird was one of 69 pheasants shot by the 14 hunters Nov. 1-2 on opening weekend.

Biologists said it appears to be a partial albino.

“I hear about odd-colored pheasants almost every year,” said Kansas upland biologist Randy Rogers. “They range from complete and partial albinos to nearly black.  I wouldn’t call it common, but it’s certainly not unheard of.”

Added Illinois biologist John Cole, “I’ve been pheasant hunting since 1958 and the I have seen one completely white rooster pheasant in McLean County south of LeRoy.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

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

These, in my opinion, are not the kind of hunters we would like to see in our area!!  I asked my husband, a hunter, if he agreed that it is wrong to kill animals that are of a rare variety.  He agreed and we both think it would be much more beneficial to leave these things alive in nature so that others can also enjoy seeing them.  To knowingly kill them is a travesty.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 12:07 PM

They are not protected animals, so why not kill them?  It’s a rarety to get a chance at these types of animals.  It did you no harm, so let them enjoy it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 03:53 PM

I bet they didn’t know they were so rare until after they shot them. The coon would have been taken in the dark so it would have be tough to know until after the shot. The pheasant would have been real tough with it cackling and flying through the air. The duck I really don’t know because I am not a duck hunter. I surely wouldn’t ridicual these guys until you have walked in there shoes. Its not like they shot a albino deer which is protected and would be easy to tell before you shot.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 04:41 PM

“a travesty”? Vicki, you must stopping hugging your tree. Good job guys. When hunting, sometimes you are presented with a rare trophy. When I have the opportunity, I take the shot. Travesty is quite an inappropriate comment.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 04:53 PM

Make no mistake… as the article points out these animals are oddities not rare. Thanks for sharing Jeff.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 11:49 AM

All the animals are trophies in my book. As for the whistling ducks I would have all of them mounted. Oppertunities like that do not come around everyday nice shootin guys.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 06:53 PM

Oddities is right, rare not.  Go to South America and you will see plenty of the ducks.  There are so many people raising pheasants it could of been from cross-breeding.  They are all trophies and why not shoot them.  My brother shot some white-winged scooters several years ago on the Illinois river and I have heard of others shooting Old Sqauws.  If opportunity presents itself, might as well take it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:51 PM

I would have shot at all of them. And missed. But I would have shot at them.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 11/17 at 11:25 PM

I don’t know you, Jeff Lampe, but you are my kind of guy.  As one of my friends in Arkansas says, “IF it flies, it dies - if I can hit it!”  And the truth is, he connects about 10% of the time.  And yes, ‘rare’ does not equate to protected.  Congratulations on a fine hunt.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/25 at 06:01 AM

Vicki, it could be argued that it’s better to take oddities such as the pheasant, particularly.  Many times an animal that has odd characteristics has such characteristics because it has something “wrong” with it genetically.  By culling it from the herd or flock we’re actually doing the breeding stock a favor.
Using your logic, please let your “hunting husband” know that it would be morally wrong for him to shoot a 200+ class double drop-tine buck if it walked in front of him.  After all, they’re a bit rare and the rest of us would really “enjoy seeing them”...

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/26 at 08:13 PM

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