Tag Archives: deer hunting

Illinois Deer Population and EHD

Ran into an old guy while out driving around yesterday.

He lives on a hoarder infested farmette a few miles out of town.

Says he has indisputable evidence that the drop in deer numbers in Illinois is being caused by alien abductions.

He also says that EHD is caused by alien experimentation gone wrong.

I think he’s nuts.

I think Obama is causing all these deer problems.

He is the antichrist you know.

It’s just his way of getting back at all the crackers that didn’t vote for him back in his home state.

Driving on 290 Toward Rockford

That’s all the text message said, Driving on 290 toward Rockford, and there was a photo attached. I had to have Nina email me the photos, the screen on my phone is barely 2 inches square and I was wondering why she was sending me a picture of the back of somebody’s SUV.

Because there were two deer strapped to the carrier on the back of the SUV.

Got to hand it to a daughter that thinks of their dad when they see something like that. She knows how much I enjoy hunting even though I’ve only had the opportunity to go deer hunting once about a decade ago out in Virginia. I did get a deer then, with a muzzle loader that’s a replica of a Kentucky long rifle. For the first time I went deer hunting, I didn’t know it would be my last chance in a long while, I wanted to do something a little more traditional. I had no access to bows and a friend had given me this rifle.

What I’ve found out since then is that hunting can get expensive. Years ago I used to go pheasant, squirrel and waterfowl hunting fairly often. Over the past eight years hunting has become a luxury I simply can no longer afford except for the occasional squirrel hunt. Even then, the places I like to go squirrel hunting are a bit of a drive and it’s been hard to justify burning off the gallons of gas it takes to go bag a few squirrels.

Some day.

Some day I’ll be able to go out pheasant hunting again on a whim and not do a complex financial analysis of my cash flow projected two to three months forward first.

Some day the time and financial resources will coincide so I can go spend a few days down in Missouri and hunt with my father-in-law. He owns 40 acres on the Missouri/Arkansas border that is begging to be hunted.

Some day I won’t think twice about driving the 200 mile round trip to Morrison Rockwood State Park or the 260 mile round trip to Apple River Canyon State Park just to go squirrel hunting. They are the two finest places I’ve been to for the simple pleasure of a day of squirrel hunting.

Some day I’ll be able to get out deer hunting around here, but I still plan a more traditional outing. I have a long bow with a slight recurve that I’ve got pretty good at shooting. I even have a couple of hand made wood arrows I’ve set aside for this opportunity.

Some day.

Till then I’ll rely on the occasional photo’s from friends to remind me of missed hunting opportunities.

Or I’ll just wait for my daughter to send another text message, with another photo of deer on a carrier.

I told her the next time she sees something like this to flag down the driver, get him to pull over and find out how much he wants for a hind quarter. You never know, an attractive young woman asking about deer hind quarters just might get her one for free. I’ve got killer recipes for venison chili and stew that are gathering dust and a hind quarter would be perfect.

Then there’s the fettuccine with venison alfredo sauce…

Even a Deer Enjoys a Good Cuban Now and Then

For well over a dozen years while out cruising the internet, I’ve been using the same picture of a cute smiling me when I was four years old as an avatar everywhere I go. Keeps people guessing. How can someone so cute be such an ass at times.

I grew up, the picture didn’t.

That’s me on the left. The monkey sitting next to me is my brother and, yes, he eventually grew into those ears quite handsomely.

The other day I decided to change the picture on my Facebook profile to something more recent. I don’t allow many pictures of me to be taken any more, but this one was taken by my daughter and I kind of like it.

It started up the usual smartass comments from so called friends, but then Nicholas Kriho said, “Needless to say, you didn’t do any successful deer hunting for at least a month after that photo was taken.”

I replied, “Deer are drawn to the cigar smell. The things walk up on me all the time. Or, I smell like a deer.”

I actually think about this fairly often when I’m out and about. We all know how we’re supposed to cleanse ourselves of any kind of odor when heading out deer hunting. We’re even supposed to douse ourselves with all kinds of foul smelling stuff to attract deer.

This flies in the face of what I’ve learned.

The first and only time I’ve hunted deer was out in Virginia. My back won’t allow me to go climbing around in trees, so I built myself a ground blind and then sat there, for hours. It was grueling. Of course I had to smoke a couple of cigars while sitting around doing nothing. I justified this by convincing myself the deer were all upwind of me.

Sure enough, a deer came out of nowhere, stood there giving me a clean shot, so I took it. I always thought that was odd and I know I’ve mentioned it to others when the topic of deer hunting has come up.

Over the years I’ve walked up on, and have had deer walk up on me, hundreds of times while out fishing rivers and just wandering around in the woods. I’m always smoking a cigar, can’t help myself. Recently, these four hung out waiting for me to walk by before they made a dash across the river.

Another recent venture through the woods had me eyeball to eyeball with the biggest deer I had ever seen. Had been smoking a cigar the whole time and it seemed to not care one way or the other.

This happens all the time. On islands, off wandering around in the woods, out squirrel hunting and always with me smoking a cigar. You would think the deer could smell me coming and would keep their distance or hunker down and turn invisible like deer seem to be able to do.

It was this train of thought today after the comment that Nicholas made that finally made the little bells go off in my head.

Deer are used to smelling smoke.

At least around here. They have to be, I smell smoke all the time. All the houses around me have fireplaces and all their yards have fire pits. There’s always someone burning something. I can smell smoke coming from the homes on the other side of the ravine, a good half mile away. There are always deer hanging out around the ravine.

Not far away, the farm fields start. At times I can see and smell the smoke a mile away, coming from the brush piles being burned off by some farmer some where. I see deer all the time, cruising these fields and walking along the tree lines. This time of year it’s not unusual to see and smell a smoky haze traveling down the Fox River below my house. And there are the deer wandering along the river.

I enjoy these smells of smoke, I find them comforting somehow. The deer have to think something of these smells too.

So that has to be it. The deer are used to the smoke smells. When I go wandering around in the river and through the woods smoking away on one of my cigars, they must think nothing of it. They smell it all the time.

Now I have to get the deer trained. When they smell me coming, puffing away on one of my cigars, they show up with a little keg of cognac hanging from their necks.

And I’ll promise not to shoot them.

Gone Huntin’

“What are you doing?”

Well, I was thinking that over the last 10 years I’ve got out duck and goose hunting one time. I used to like hunting for ducks and geese. Setting up the decoys, sitting in a blind all day. I’d get to watch a sunrise and a sunset while sitting on the edge of a river. Very peaceful, very relaxing.

“Noooo, what are you doing with that stick and a loaf of bread?”

Oh, that.

“You’re going to make me regret this conversation, aren’t you.”

You know how I always joke about going after all these resident waterfowl, the ones that hang around here pretty much all year, with a nine iron and a loaf of bread? I thought I’d give it a try. They’re so used to people throwing food at them, they’ll walk right up to you. Nice easy whack upside the head and you got a meal.

I did have to give up on the nine iron idea though cause I don’t have one. I tried to take my dad’s, he can’t golf anymore, but I made the mistake of telling him what I was thinking of doing with it. Besides, if I go out there walking around with a nine iron some guy will think that’s an invitation to strike up a conversation about golf. Ever have a conversation about golf? It’s worse than a conversation about baseball, hockey, football and basketball COMBINED! After a few minutes I’d be begging the guy for a couple of tee’s so I can shove them into my eardrums. It’s brutal.

“I can think of worse things… all I asked was…”

I actually learned this from watching kids. Remember I worked with the Chicago Park District’s Kid Fishin’ program years ago. Kids would bring their lunch along, kids never finish their lunch. So they would start ripping it to shreds and feeding it to the fish. Before you knew it there were ducks and geese streaming in out of nowhere to join in on the feast. They’d eat everything that hit the water or ground. They’d walk right up to your feet. That’s when I first got the idea that I should just pop one.

“That’s baiting, even I know you can’t bait birds.”

Ahhh, most hunting requires baiting. Yeah, they make this stupid law that you can’t go throwing food on the ground or in the water, but it’s all baiting. Think about it, you throw all those decoys out there in a place that you think might be inviting to waterfowl. Then you sit back and start talking to them. You have no clue what you’re saying to them. Hey man, over here, we got food. Or, hey, take a break, nice spot here. Or, hey baby, you wanna get yourself some? You have no clue what your saying to these birds, it’s all baiting.

Squirrel calls, same thing, you’re baiting them with promises of something. Rotating wings on dove decoys, those stupid flapping flag like things waterfowl hunters wave around. Take a look at hunting in cornfields for waterfowl. You set up in a corn field after it’s been harvested and there’s corn everywhere. Brings in the birds by the hundreds. Oh sure, you can argue you didn’t put the corn there, but somebody did. It’s baiting.

Then, how about those idiots that go out deer hunting? There’s actually a product out there called #69 (like deer even know what that is) Doe-in-Rut Buck Lure. The graphic on the front, the one that’s supposed to entice you to buy this product, is an image of a big buck with his nose up the ass of a doe.

Really?

“Can I go now…”

That’s the ultimate in baiting. I know guys that would gladly give up food for sex. All I know is that if you’re dumb enough to put this stuff on then go out wandering around in the woods, I wouldn’t spend too much time bent over doing anything. You get what you deserve at that point.

“You really aren’t going to go do this, are you?”

There’s a score to be paid, remember. All I wanted to do was go out fishing and the geese picked the one spot I had to walk past that didn’t involve swimming in the creek. They honked and hissed, I tried to settle them down. Talked nice to them. Tried to hush them a bit, I’m heading on my way… and what do they do? They try to kill me.

Fun With Wildlife

It’s payback time.

But first, a decision needs to be made… white or wheat?

Deer Hunting at Silver Springs?
Might want to have a Plan B

Archery deer season ends January 15, 2012, but at Silver Springs State Park it pretty much ended in November.

Because I am currently unemployable and have time on my hands to kill, by 3 PM every day I’m buggy and wander the five minutes down the road to Silver Springs State Park for a walk. I also check in to see how the pheasant hunters have been doing and if there is anyone out deer hunting. I seem to do this at least every other day.

With the mild December weather we’ve had, the pheasant hunting has been pretty good. I noticed that practically every one on the list gets their limit of birds. There’s a sign on the bulletin board saying that this year has seen a record harvest of birds. You feel sorry for the occasional hunter on the list that records a zero for the day.

According to my only source at Silver Springs, Larry is his name, there are fewer hunters getting out. He said that there was only one day where they couldn’t let all the standby hunters go out. Getting out on standby here used to be pretty rare. The afternoon hunts seem to also always have open slots, but they don’t allow standby hunts in the afternoon for some reason.

Up until the day after Christmas, I can’t recall seeing more than a half dozen deer hunters on the list. 10 deer hunters are allowed out at a time. The day after Christmas the list was filled twice. Twenty hunters had got out and a few were still out in the woods for the sunset hunt.

The areas set aside for deer hunting at Silver Springs are pretty small. Most of the land is set aside for pheasant hunting and another big area doesn’t allow hunting of any kind. The day after Christmas was the first time I had noticed, stuck to the bulletin board, a deer harvest list. I forgot to write down the exact numbers, but for October about 5 deer were taken. For November I recall only 5 or 6 deer taken with the last one on the 24th.

For December, only one doe was taken and that was on the 18th. Considering the amount of pressure these small areas get, that didn’t surprise me. I also drive through Silver Springs on a regular basis on my way to other places. Along the road, through the areas where you can only bird hunt or not hunt at all, I regularly see deer. In the surrounding areas, I see deer out wandering around all the time. A friend that regularly explores the nearby Hoover Forest Preserve has been posting pictures of quite a few deer in the preserves, including a nice shot of a good sized buck. Of course, you can’t hunt in the preserves.

It’s impossible to tell where they are coming from, but someone has been getting deer in the area. So far this year, dumped on the edges of the hunter parking lots at Silver Springs, have been the remains of seven butchered deer. One deer, a doe, was never butchered. It had been gutted then dumped about 20 feet off one lot. Seems like such a shame to waste all that good meat.

For the remainder of the deer season, if I were a deer hunter, I would find someplace else to go. I have a feeling the chances of getting a deer at Silver Springs aren’t going to improve.

For the pheasant hunters, Silver Springs is one of the Public/Private Partnership Sites run by T. Miller. Hunting for birds will continue there till January 8th. Since the other Chicago area controlled pheasant hunting areas are shutting down, a quick check of the T. Miller site shows that there are no more permits available. Up until now, there were quite a few permits that could be had up until the last minute. If you really want to get out and don’t live that far, it might be worth going on standby.

You just never know.