Sarley: Putting an unfortunate rumor to bed once and for all

A short while ago, I wrote about the rumor that seems to make the rounds every year about the way the Illinois Department of Natural Resources harvests whitetail deer as part of its chronic wasting disease reduction program.

I wrote, “I was recently approached at a sports show by a man who told me that IDNR sharpshooters had killed every deer in a particular county near to 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 who are tired of forking out big bucks due to 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.”

I questioned the truthfulness of the rumors and challenged everyone to come forward with proof of the IDNR doing the things they are accused of.

I got a number of responses directing me to a Facebook post that included a picture of dead deer carcasses lying in the back of a truck. Of course, if it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? Wrong!

The license plate on the truck was blurred out in the picture and the markings on the truck’s doors also were unable to be identified. Sorry, my friends, but this picture proves nothing other than someone has rudimentary Photoshop skills.

I received a wonderful email regarding the subject.

“My wife and I really enjoy your page in the Northwest Herald. Last fall we attended a DNR meeting at Glacial Park about CWD. We were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentation. We also met a number of the DNR and Conservation District personnel.

“We've hunted whitetails for decades, and have closely followed the CWD issue since it arose locally. We were surprised by all the additional info we got from the meeting. Illustrating what could happen here was the case of what has happened in Wyoming. There, the prevalence of CWD is very high, and their herd size is now a small fraction of what it once was. If I remember correctly, there is about 50 percent prevalence and a 70 percent reduction in herd size. The DNR can give you more accurate figures.

"What was disappointing about the meeting was the low attendance. I guess it’s easier to pass along bull than to actually learn facts. We were convinced that our DNR herd reduction and testing is the best way to try to limit CWD. Also very importantly, we learned that CWD has been found in macaque monkeys fed contaminated venison. This species is close to us genetically. Previously it was only found in squirrel monkeys, very distant genetically.

"In the past, we’ve had deer taken during the two regular gun seasons to be tested for CWD upon registration. Now, we will not eat or give away any venison that has not been tested. Fortunately, deer taken in other seasons can now be sampled and tested by our DNR. The Conservation District has a head drop off near Glacial Park. Better yet, we met a DNR biologist at the meeting who was willing to come to our home to take samples. The three deer we took during bow season all tested negatively.

“Thanks for exposing some of the nuts who pass along these crazy conspiracy theories. In the past 17 years, living in northern McHenry County, we’ve seen about the same amount of deer. We hunt very close to a DNR herd reduction site.

“In the past three years we’ve taken two or three deer per year. My wife’s best was an 11-point buck taken with her 50-pound compound bow. Mine was a 10-pointer taken with a crossbow. We usually don’t take fawns or doe with fawns. We are in our early 70s, and hope to enjoy hunting and your writing for years to come. Keep up the good work.”

Thank you for the great letter. I hope you are able to successfully hunt whitetail deer in McHenry County for decades to come.

That’s one rumor quashed, to be sure. Now if I can just stop the people who keep spreading the rumor that all of the big fish in Delavan Lake have been removed by the Wisconsin DNR to replace the fish lost in the gigantic fish kill at Lake Delton a few years ago.


Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “The teaser weather that made us think spring was here is gone. Walleye can still be caught at the McHenry Dam. Dress like you are going ice fishing and fish slowly. When you think you are going slowly enough, slow down some more. A jig and a minnow will do the trick, or wait a couple of weeks for spring to get here for real. For more information on northern Illinois fishing, call 815-455-2040 for an updated report.”


Tax advice: BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. Boat US sends us some valuable information as April 15 draws near. Boat buyers should be aware that a boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, an installed head and sleeping berth. Also, if you have a boat loan, you should ask your lender for form 1098.

Two years ago, Congress extended some boat sales tax and mortgage interest deductions for recreational boat buyers. Excluding home equity loans, those deductions remain for next year’s 2018 tax season with the recently passed GOP tax overhaul plan signed into law last December, albeit with some new lower limits on lending amounts.

For more details on the mortgage deduction on boats that qualify, visit and download IRS Publication 936. Boaters are urged to contact a tax preparer or financial adviser for more information.

Walleyes Unlimited meeting: Walleyes Unlimited, with about 450 members, is one of the Midwest’s most popular fishing clubs. It has cut back to running only one meeting a month, alternating between Illinois and Wisconsin. The March meeting is one that you definitely do not want to miss. The location is at the Pallas Restaurant, 1657 S. 108th St., West Allis, Wisconsin. The date is March 28. The speaker is hall of fame fisherman Tom Neustrom, and his topic will be “Using Your Electronics to Catch Walleye, Smallmouth, and Crappies." The fun starts at 7 p.m. Soft drinks are provided, and hard beverages are available for purchase. Check for information, or call Bob Clark at 847-274-8247.

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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