THOMSON – The special Youth Deer Hunt at Lost Mound was Oct. 6-7, with 23 youth participating.
Three bucks and five does were harvested by eight hunters. Fourteen-year-old Caleb Poffenberger of Forreston harvested the largest deer, a 10-point buck with a field dressed weight of 180 pounds. He also harvested the largest buck in 2011.
A voluntary program to encourage youth hunters to shoot non-lead bullets was initiated this year. Lead bullets often fragment upon entering a deer.
The toxic fragments are embedded in the offal (gut pile) that is left in the field. Eagles scavenge on the gut piles and eat the lead fragments. Studies have shown that a primary cause of bald eagle mortality is due to lead poisoning.
Each youth hunter was provided a voucher for a box of copper solid shotgun slugs. The vouchers were validated at True Value in Savanna. The program was voluntary; some youth shot lead slugs.
The offal from lead-shot deer was collected and was X-rayed to identify if lead was present. The purpose of X-rays was to document what percentage of offal left in the field contained lead fragments and could be eaten by eagles or other wildlife. One of the four gut piles that were x-rayed showed lead fragments present.
The deer population at Lost Mound is high compared to most rural areas in Illinois because it provides a sanctuary for deer during most of the hunting season.