Last week I wrote about the 72-year old archer from Des Plaines who harvested what he thought were a pair of elk, only to find out they were European red deer that had escaped from a farm. It didn’t matter which species they were, legally, because there are no proscribed seasons for either in Illinois because they do not reside here.
I got quite a bit of feedback on the issue, and I got a little more aggravated the more I thought about it. The guy sees what he thinks are three elk, so he decides to shoot two of them. He knows there are no elk in Illinois. What if these animals were part of the Clam Lake herd that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation established in Wisconsin?
I know it’s highly unlikely that a trio of elk would wander 300 miles south, but stranger things have happened, have they not? If that was the case, this hunter certainly made sure that they’d never have a chance to repopulate, having left only a single with no mate.
If this hunter knew the animals were legal to shoot because there is no season because there technically are no animals, what went through his mind when he saw them? He had to know that the animals had either migrated to Illinois, which would have made them incredibly rare, or he had to have known they were escapees from a private owner.
In either case, I feel the hunter was incredibly shortsighted and extremely greedy. These animals go about 500 pounds each. Wouldn’t one be enough to stock a freezer? In any case, he should not have unleashed his arrows, in my humble opinion.
I just sent this off to Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller: “Marc, I have attached two columns I have recently written touching on the subject of the European red deer that were harvested on private property near Antioch. It is my fervent belief that any species of animal that does not have a hunting season designated for it should not be allowed to be harvested. I cannot possibly imagine any valid reason for allowing an unregulated species to be taken at will. This is something that could be corrected with a simple stroke of your pen. I think it would be simple to accomplish and stop people like the Antioch hunter of taking unfair advantage of a loophole in the conservation laws.”
Here are a couple of interesting responses to my question as to where the “elk” might have come from:
Art Peterson wrote, “There is a large captive elk herd just east of Lake Geneva. Strays from there could easily have gotten to Lake County. The elk are visible from the road. I’ve seen them while riding rustic roads. Did not stop or note the name. The ranch/farm is just northeast of the intersection of Rte. 50 and Cranberry Road. Also, there are some captive buffalo operations in the area, in case anyone finds a shaggy stray munching Pampas grass in their backyard.”
Thanks, Art. I hope none of those buffalo accidentally get loose and wander past the tree stand of that 72-year-old guy from Des Plaines.
Mike Sullivan showed his great memory, writing, “Just thought I’d let you know that there was a very similar story to yours about killing an elk just off Hogback Road, 20-25 years ago. It had somehow walked off the Kelly property on Country Club Road. Supposedly, the shooter called the IDNR and was told there was no season and that it would be OK to kill it. I’m sure some of the details have blurred over the years, but I do remember the Kellys had a few elk, a bunch of Chinese deer and a couple of Bactrian camels wandering around their property back then.”
I responded that I hoped that the camels were smart enough to stay put because I’ve heard that camel backstraps are very tasty.
Bob Bailey wrote, “Your Nov. 22 article in reference to car/deer crashes and alleged elk being shot in Illinois was interesting. You might be interested in checking on a recent car/elk crash. As I recall it occurred in early October in the Sawyer County part of Clam Lake, Wis. A small car struck and killed a 10-year-old bull elk with large antlers. The car was destroyed and the driver broke her neck when the elk landed on top of the car and pushed the top down on her head.”
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I am sure many readers responded to my request to contact your legislators to voice your demand for a positive vote on the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012.
This one seemed like a no-brainer to me. A diverse coalition of angling, hunting and conservation organizations worked for many months to create this historic bill containing 17 major provisions for anglers, hunters and aficionados of fish and wildlife conservation.
Incredibly, the bill failed to pass because of what was termed “a party line vote on a procedural motion.”
Said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association, “The shocking aspect of this bill’s defeat is that it occurred over a budget argument giving the Secretary of the Interior the ability to increase the duck stamp price $10, thus pumping more dollars into wetland conservation for both fisheries and wildlife benefits.
“Adding salt to the wound is that the increase is strongly supported by waterfowl hunters who champion the user pay-user benefit concept for fish and wildlife conservation along with all sportsmen and women as well as the fishing and hunting industries.”
To see how your Senators voted, visit the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 page on KeepAmericaFishing.org.
• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The second firearm deer season should be as good as the first, with mild weather in our area. Hunters will find yearling does and does that did not take during the first season giving us a second rut. Doe in heat scent should be used at this time to get the buck to stop where you have a good shot.
The Fox River is still providing good open water fishing for the nonhunters. Walleye and white bass will hit an extra-large fathead on a jig head. It is also time to dust off that ice tackle.”
Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports.
For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, go to foxwaterway.state.il.us/ or call 847-587-8540.
Wisconsin – Lake Michigan: You can call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources advises Illinois resident hunters that they may now apply for the first lottery for 2013 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Season permits online. Visit the IDNR website for information at dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/turkey/Pages/SpringTurkeyHunting.aspx. The application deadline for the first lottery for 2013 resident spring turkey permits is Saturday. Non-residents may apply for 2013 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey permits beginning Dec. 4.
Youth goose hunt
Any youth interested in the 13th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt on Dec. 26 and 27 at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties can register now. Youth hunters must phone in to 217-785-8060 to register for the drawing to participate in the hunt. The registration deadline is Dec. 7. The drawing will be conducted Dec. 10 and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail. First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing. The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10 to 15 at the time of the hunt. All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid FOID card.
Sportsmen Against Hunger
Illinois hunters are encouraged to donate whole deer to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, which is part of the IDNR ‘Target Hunger Now!’ initiative. Participating meat processors turn the donated deer into ground venison for delivery to food banks and charities in Illinois. For more information on ‘Target Hunger Now!’ and the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, check the IDNR website at dnr.illinois.gov/programs/ISAH/Pages/default.aspx or contact them by email at tracy.shafer@Illinois.gov or write to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.