Now that we have just about wound down with the deer archery season, and all of what seems like 20 different gun seasons, it's time to ask the question that is on a lot of hunter's minds.
That question is, "Where have all the deer gone?"
This statement has been bouncing around the hunting community for several years, but never more than after this season.
After years of having Chronic Wasting Disease shoved down our throat and seeing just about no effects from it, the powers that be just kept plugging along like our deer herd was stronger than ever – even though the numbers of tags they issued kept rising, and the number of deer killed kept dropping.
It's typical Illinois bunk, and now we have a problem. Numbers are down – significantly. Look into this year's deer harvest totals for yourself on the DNR website and form your own opinion on the matter. Our herd is in trouble, folks, and that ain't good.
Now the hot disease around the country is the Blue Tongue disease, or EHD. Rumors of massive deer kills have spread like wildfire.
Now, I'm not sure what to believe, but I do know this: If this disease turns out to be real and you combine a mass kill with our own over-harvest, well, that could spell disaster for our deer.
Have you deer hunters thought about life without deer hunting? I have, and I don't like it very much at all.
In all fairness, there are other things that affect our deer herd negatively. I think many hunters out there need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are part of the problem or part of the solution.
I mean, a lot of the complaints I have listened to have gone something like this. "Well, me and the guys, we usually kill 15 or 20 deer out at our land every shotgun season, but this year we only killed eight."
Or a guy will tell me he can remember when he used to shoot 10 deer with his bow every season, and now he struggles to kill two or three. Well, no kidding – think about it.
We can't kill five or six does apiece and expect to help the herd. Things only get better when you decide to take a stand and do something as individuals to make it better.
Now, if you're under the line of thinking that the state will come around, cut back on the amount of tags issued, maybe cancel some of the outrageous seasons we have, then great, sleep well. I know better than to think any of that will happen.
I understand we aren't going to change things instantly, but you better commit to killing fewer deer, does especially. While you're doing that, you may want to start raising a little hell with your state representative.
Or here's an idea – boycott shotgun season altogether. Nobody buy a tag. The state will stand up and take notice when all that money stops rolling in from hunters. In other words, stand united or fall apart. We have to let them know we are not happy, and steps need to start being taken now – right now.
What are we going to do? I am not sure, but I know it has to be something, and I know it has to be now!