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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

One take on the deer task force

January 10, 2009 at 07:26 PM

The scary thing about groups like the Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control is that somebody might take the recommendations they make as gospel.

Heaven knows I hope that’s not the case this time when the Department of Natural Resources reviews the group’s proposals. And for one main reason: the proposal to add a fourth day to the first firearm season.

Understand, I am a gun hunter. I enjoy gun hunting. I do not bow hunt deer, yet. And I like to shoot deer. Not just bucks. Deer. Call me a slob if you want, but part of the fun of deer hunting for me is shooting a deer. Someday I want to shoot a trophy buck. But I’m not pretty happy to shoot a doe or even a smaller buck. So a fourth day of firearm season would actually up the odds in my favor.

But I still have two problems with adding a fourth day.

1. Why the heck add the day on a Monday? That doesn’t make sense unless your goal is to cater to non-residents who are coming to Illinois for a long weekend. The more obvious choice is to add a day on Thursday.

2. Actually, the first problem doesn’t even matter, since any Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control should not be adding a day to the first firearm season. That’s the worst possible time to add hunting days if the goal is deer population control. As any fool knows, deer population control means doe control. And the first firearm season is the time when most gun hunters are geared toward shooting bucks. Even me. The rut is often still on. Guys have spent all year dreaming of the big 44-pointer. So they head to the woods wanting to shoot a trophy. Often they can. That changes as the season wears on. By second season or even by Sunday of the first season, there’s some real deer population control going on. All the sudden that big doe looks pretty enticing. Adding a fourth day of hunting to that first weekend does little for population control, but it could bring in plenty of money for outfitters, who can sell another day of gun hunting.

That’s why this proposal smells of a rat. Adding to the stink is that Sen. Sullivan made this Monday proposal at the last second in the final task force meeting. Was he motivated by some factor other than deer population control? Was he trying to make outfitters in the Quincy area a few more bucks? We may never know, but we can sure read between the lines.

My bet is the DNR will toss the fourth day proposal out, since it doesn’t real help control does. After all, these are just recommendations. Deer biologist Paul Shelton also seemed surprised by the proposal. He said that adding a fourth day to the first firearm season wouldn’t help much with population control, since gun hunters at that point are so buck-minded.

And don’t count on seeing those late-winter permits sold over the counter. That’s a major change in terms of the point-of-sale system. Shelton said he’s not sure that can be worked out in time. Same with the firearm tags.

As to the nine-day late-winter season, though, I think that’s a real possibility. Not that it makes sense to me to triple the length of the season, particularly after a year that has seen a decline in firearm harvest totals. I realize one year doesn’t make a trend, but it doesn’t scream for a nine-day late-winter season, either.

Anyway, that’s just a little food for thought. Now I want to get back and see how bad the Cardinals are getting beat.


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