Sarley: Hunting bears not for me

There are no regulations regarding elk hunting in Illinois, basically because there are no elk residing in our state. That's why I tried 72-year-old Ronald Mulholland in January 2013 for shooting red deer he thought were elk. The red deer were escapees from a nearby Wisconsin farm. By the letter of the law, what Mulholland did in far Northern Illinois was perfectly legal.

If a species of animal is not listed in the Illinois rules and regulations, it is perfectly legal to shoot one. I proposed to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to change the wording of the rules so that any animal that is not covered by a designated hunting season would be unable to be shot by a hunter or anyone else. I never received a response.

In my opinion, I felt that what Mulholland did, though legal, was totally immoral. But readers didn't agree. You basically felt that what the man did was legal and he shouldn’t be publicly chastised for his actions.

Now, another situation has arisen that I find a little similar to the red deer situation and brings up a whole new round of hypothetical questions.

In the past couple of months, there have been numerous black bear sightings in Northern Illinois. It started northeast of the Quad Cities. The reports have been proven true through identification of droppings left behind and photos taken of the animal. Since the first sighting, many others followed. Some sightings came from as far as east as Rockford.

Either this furry fellow is really making tracks or there are more than one on the loose in the Land of Lincoln. Think about it. Is Rockford all that far away from McHenry County?

That said, the IDNR has issued new rules to cover Illinois bears. They are considered to be a protected species. No hunting of bears is allowed. The kicker is that the new rules do not take effect until Jan. 1.

What are the odds that a bear is legally shot in Illinois between now and the first of the year? What would you do if you were in a stand during the upcoming deer season and a black bear walked in front of you? Good questions, don’t you think?

My opinion is that I would leave any bear alone unless it was possible that it could do harm to humans. Bears basically are harmless. I don’t think that an Illinois bear would be trophy-sized. You wouldn’t be putting any effort into hunting the bear. It would really just be an accidental kill. I know that it’s illegal until January, so why would I do it, knowing it soon will be illegal? No bear shooting for me. I really would like to hear your opinions.

Fishing report:

Northern Illinois – Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “We are in full summer pattern for bass at Three Oaks Recreation Area. Fish a drop shot Roboworm or a Defender football jig in 16 to 25 feet of water. I like Blue crawler or Aaron’s magic for the Roboworm colors and green pumpkin or watermelon on the Defender jig. The catfish on the Fox River will hit cut bait or blood stink bait. It is also a great time to slop fish for bass on the weedy ponds.”

Lake Michigan –”Fishing improved on Lake Michigan this past week, but the bite is way offshore. There are Cohoes and steelhead out in 200 feet of water and beyond. Fish the top 50 feet of the water column. OO orange dodgers with 2-inch slider flies tied 16 inches behind them have been catching most of the Cohoes and steelheads. Moonshine’s Atomic Melon spoon also has been catching fish on the downriggers and lead core line set-ups.”

The Lake Michigan Fishing Report is provided by Captain Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters based out of Northpoint Marina –

• Steve Sarley covers the outdoors for Shaw Media. He can be reached at

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