Hear ye! Hear ye! Court is now in session. All please rise for the judge, the Honorable Steve Sarley. Be seated please.
Please realize that this is not a legal court, it is merely the court of public opinion that I preside over today.
The case before us has been documented clearly in the past few weeks. To quickly recap, it concerns the 72-year-old Des Plaines man who harvested what he thought were a pair of elk, only to find out they were European red deer. These animals are not native to Illinois. They had escaped from a nearby farm. Legally, the man was within his rights to take down the animals because neither elk nor European red deer are mentioned in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources hunting rules and regulations. If an animal species has no designated hunting season, it is legal to harvest them.”
The reason we are here in the court of public opinion is because this has become a “hot button” issue and many people are furious about it.
Greg Cypher contacted me to say, “Steve, Please do not refer to the Des Plaines man as a hunter, as this would lead one to believe he is also a sportsman. In reality, while his actions fall through cracks in the law, he is not a hunter or sportsman. The appropriate title is ‘common criminal.’ ”
Although I can understand Greg’s strong feelings, the man is not a criminal in any way. What he did was legal.
The court of public opinion is in session to let the hunter have his say. The archer’s name is Ronald Mulholland.
Mr. Mulholland, please approach the bench. Sir, do you have any regret over having killed these two animals?
“No, not really. I honestly believe 100 percent that what I did was OK. I believed they were wild elk from Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota that had migrated here. They are living in those states now, and Wisconsin is having its first elk season next year.”
Sir, you thought the animals were elk, but it turns out they were red deer. Did you really know what you were firing at?
“I have a college dictionary right here that says that the red deer is an elk. Right here in black and white. You call them red deer, but I say I shot two elk.”
Sir, what animals wouldn’t you shoot if they crossed your tree stand? I mean animals that were not regulated with proper hunting seasons?
“That is silly. I shot a species that is hunted. I’ve been out west to hunt elk as recently as this past January.
“The IDNR conservation officer that was quoted in one of the stories was totally out of line. I’d never shoot a cow. I heard some goofy writer wanted to know if I’d fire on a giraffe if it walked by. How stupid.
“The owner of the place the animals got loose from said they were hand-fed, like they were pets. Well, in Wyoming, they put food out for the elk in the winter. Does that make them pets? They feed animals at the zoo. They’re not pets.”
Sir, if the law was changed to say that animals without hunting seasons are not allowed to be harvested under any circumstances, how would you feel?
“I’d be fine with that. I would abide by the law like I did in this case. I tell you, I did nothing wrong.”
Mr. Mulholland, do you have anything that you’d like to say on your own behalf to conclude your testimony?
“Yes, I do. This whole incident has been very hard on me. I have lost the place I hunt on because of all of the negative publicity. The owner wants to stay away from me. I had no interest at all in having this publicized. I showed my neighbor the animals and let him take a picture. I had no idea that he was going to send it off to one of the Chicago newspapers. The next thing I know this just snowballed. It was not my intention. I did nothing wrong.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have been presented with the facts. There is no wrong decision. Consider what you have read and let your heads and hearts guide you to your opinion. Whatever it is that you decide, the court of public opinion is interested in your findings. Please contact the judge at email@example.com and let me know what you think.
Court is adjourned.
• 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 Web site for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “A warm, second gun season slowed down deer movement last week. Cooler days ahead will get them on the move for the rest of the seasons.
Fishermen took advantage of the nice weekend and did well on walleye, pike and panfish. Walleye can be caught at the dams all winter long on a jig and minnow combo. Remember to fish slowly and that the bites may only feel like extra weight on your jig. Customers continue to look at all the new ice toys and hope for a better ice fishing year.”
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: 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 reported that Illinois hunters harvested 99,324 deer during the seven-day firearm deer season that ended Sunday. The second-season total was 27,213, compared with 31,259 taken during the second half of the 2011 season. Reports show the top five county totals for deer taken during the seven-day firearm season were Pike (3,068), Fulton (2,815), Adams (2,534), Jo Daviess (2,534), and Randolph (2,221). The totals for some local counties showing 2011/2012 are: Kane – 44/53, Lake 5/9, McHenry 337/415 and Winnebago 437/503.
“If you enjoy deer hunting in warm, spring-like weather, this was the season for you,” said IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton. “One of the benefits of having a split firearm deer season is that we typically avoid getting caught in a single weather pattern that might negatively impact the overall harvest. This year, conditions were much more favorable during the first season and less so during the second, but I think we’re right on track with our harvest in most areas.”
Made in the USA
HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com recently polled sportsmen to determine how much weight the “Made in USA” tag carried when purchasing outdoor equipment. They found most respondents agreed that U.S.-made products were of better quality and it was important to buy them. They also discovered there is only so much more that most hunters and anglers are willing to pay for that label. When asked, nearly 89 percent of anglers said it was very or somewhat important, while 94 percent of hunters said it was very or somewhat important. At the same time, 47 percent of those anglers feel U.S.-made tackle is generally better in quality and 63 percent of hunters believe U.S.-made hunting gear is better than equipment made overseas. If the “Made in USA” product is 5 percent or less in cost, 85 percent of anglers and 89 percent of hunters report they will buy the American-made product. But after that, numbers begin to drop sharply.
– Steve Sarley