Sarley: This whitetail deer conspiracy is just too outrageous to believe

Is this a picture from Canada? No, this huge 41-inch northern pike was caught by Ron Hall at the Walk on Water ice fishing benefit Saturday at Bang’s Lake in Wauconda.
Is this a picture from Canada? No, this huge 41-inch northern pike was caught by Ron Hall at the Walk on Water ice fishing benefit Saturday at Bang’s Lake in Wauconda.

Last week, I wrote about how chronic wasting disease is impacting whitetail deer population and how some people disagree with the nontraditional methods the Illinois Department of Natural Resources employs to thin deer in CWD areas.

This week, I’ve got another thing I’d like discuss regarding whitetail deer. I cannot tell you how many people have told me face-to-face or written to me to tell me that the IDNR has totally wiped out all of the whitetail deer in specific areas.

I recently was approached at a sports show by a man who told me that IDNR sharpshooters had killed every deer in a particular county near Chicago. He claimed that every single deer was gone. He told me that the IDNR was responding to the deep pockets of the auto insurance companies, which are tired of forking out big bucks because of car/vehicle collisions.

He claimed that the IDNR has become so brazen in their killing tactics that they don’t even collect the deer to give the meat to food pantries, they are just leaving the deer in the fields to rot.

This tale had a bit of a new twist to it. In the past, I’ve heard dozens of claims that the IDNR usually piles up the deer carcasses that its sharpshooters have killed, then douses them with gasoline and sets them on fire.

Gigantic flaming pyres of freshly shot venison on the hoof blazing away in the night? Imagine that.

Whenever I question the person relating the story to me, I usually ask whether they saw the incident themselves or whether they were told the story by someone else. Seventy-five percent of the time I get told that it was a friend or relative that saw the results of the massacre. Twenty-five percent say they saw it themselves.

I follow up by asking to see a picture of what they saw. I swear, every single time I ask that question, I get the answer, “I didn’t have a camera with me” or “My friend didn’t have his camera with him.”

Oh, come on now. Almost every phone in this country has a camera built into it. If the president picks his nose, Facebook lights up with pictures snapped by average citizens using their cellphones. Nothing happens today that isn’t photographed incessantly.

I am not an apologist for the IDNR when it does things that are incorrect. I’ve called out the agency on many occasions, but let's be realistic here.

Do the insurance companies have anything to do with Illinois’ whitetail deer numbers? I know that their statistics are used to base IDNR’s projected numbers on what a proper whitetail deer population should look like. But I do not believe that they are passing out greenbacks in Springfield to ensure that IDNR gets rid of all of the deer to save them insurance payout money in the long run.

If the IDNR was conducting mass slaughters of whitetail deer, wouldn’t you think we’d all see some photographic evidence of it? Where are the pictures, people? Where is the testimony about this from any employees or even ex-employees of the IDNR to back up these allegations?

It reminds me of the John F. Kennedy assassination. The conspiracy theories are tempting to believe and can be backed up by circumstantial evidence, but when it comes down to it, where are the facts from people who are actually a part of the nefarious activities?

If anyone has any of this type of evidence, please share it with me. I’ll run with it and make the biggest stink you’ve ever seen. Until that time, please stop repeating these stories unless you can offer me some facts or evidence.


Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Most lakes have 12 to 14 inches of ice on them and are covered with sloppy snow. Pike are moving into very shallow water as the spawn nears. Fish a dead smelt on the bottom or a large golden roach minnow just off the bottom or above the weeds. Crappies will hit small minnows. Use spikes or wax worms for bluegill and perch. Think spring. Open-water fishing is only four to six weeks away. For more info on northern Illinois fishing, call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.”


Interview with Takahiro Omori: Daiwa pro Takahiro Omori won the Bassmaster Elite Series event last weekend on Alabama’s Lake Martin with a four-day total of 59 pounds, 8 ounces. He led the event from beginning to end. The longtime pro added another victory for a total of seven B.A.S.S. wins and now leads the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Omori left Japan as a young man, against the wishes of his family, to move to the U.S. He wound up in Texas and began his career as a pro angler. Omori does not do many audio interviews but graciously consented to appear on the current We Fish ASA podcast at

Swap meet: It’s a bit of a hike, but totally worth it if you do the Lake Michigan thing. Salmon Unlimited is hosting a swap meet featuring new and used fishing equipment for sale and swap from 7 a.m. to noon Feb. 24 at the River Park Moose Lodge, 8601 West Fullerton Ave. in River Grove. There is plenty of free parking, and admission is only $4 for members and $7 for nonmembers. Childen under 16 will be admitted for free.

Siedsma update: I knew you big-hearted folks would respond, and you did. I invited you to check out the fundraising campaign to get a service dog for IDNR Conservation Police officer Keith Siedsma, who was stricken at a young age with a horribly fast-moving case of Parkinson’s disease.

My friend, Rich Riedel wrote, “I saw your article and was most impressed. Thank you for doing that. After the article ran, there were a lot more donations that came in.”

The campaign is still open, and you can still make a donation by going to

• Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called “WeFishASA.” You can find it at

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