Well, it’s finally over. What’s left of the Illinois deer herd is safe…till next season.
“The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” More than once I remember these comments mocking my past blogs about the decline of our deer herd. I was even called a “hack” by someone when an old blog was reposted by someone on an out-of-state site. Sadly, I’d bet these same doubters are still around with the same opinion.
I’m sure there are still some pockets in Illinois, probably many, that have an over abundance of deer. If you happen to own or hunt one of these pockets, count your Whitetail blessings. Though you may be tempted to kill a lot of deer on an over-populated property, remember, your property/deer may be what is need to re-populated other farms in your immediate area.
As my blog title suggests, I am a small property owner/hunter. Though it’s difficult to have a big impact when only managing very few acres, it is still our duty to do our part. Maybe even more so since most of us hunt small properties. With enough of us small-impact people acting as one, we can make a big impact.
Over the last several years I have spoken with dozens of hunters who all say they’ve noticed a decline in their deer numbers. This past season, however, it became the only deer topic discussed. “Big buck” stories were replaced with “Where are the deer?” stories in every local gin mill. The only people I’ve heard from that are not worried at all about this decline are the few I’ve read comments from on this site. I’ve now come to the point where I couldn’t care less what those who think our deer herd is in fine shape think. My guess is that they may be part of the problem…not the solution. To be a part of the solution, you must first recognize and admit that there is a problem.
Overhunting and EHD have been the major contributors in my local area. Sadly, I feel that I can’t control either. EHD is certainly out of my control, and after talking to some hunters in my area about not shooting anymore does, I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall. I’m rarely on the side of more government regulations, but this time I am. If hunters can not control themselves and the amount of deer they shoot, then regulation is needed. Two either-sex permits per season for resident hunters. One either-sex permit for non-residents sold through a lottery system. That’s for all seasons combined. Gun, bow, slingshot, rocks, whatever. This ought to satisfy the trophy hunter and meat hunter alike. And if someone is caught killing beyond their two deer per season, strip them of their hunting privileges in Illinois for five years. Out-of-season violators get their privileges removed permanently.
Illinois now has a new Governor. Hopefully Mr. Rauner will be exactly what this state needs and will make well-advised changes within the DNR. For those few who haven’t heard of them yet, join the IWA (Illinois Whitetail Alliance)…it’s free. No other group is more on our side.
Let’s all hope for a better 2016 season. Like this year, I plan on shooting only one deer next year. My herd was in bad shape this year. Worse than I thought it would be. Incidentally, my county had a higher kill rate this year. Go figure.