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OUTDOORS: Deer hunting in full swing in Lake Michigan states

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Updated: December 22, 2012 6:25AM



The modern world sneaks into deer camp.

From his camp in Pope County in southern Illinois, Crete hunter John Farmer emailed this aside: ‘‘We even broke from the norm and watched my and my buddy’s high school alma mater, Crete-Monee, win their semifinal playoff [football] game Saturday night on the Internet.’’

Mostly, though, the weekend was a throwback time in the opening days for regular deer hunting around the four Lake Michigan states.

† In Illinois, where more than 200,000 hunted the first firearm season Friday through Sunday, near-perfect weather and the earliest possible start to the season had many deer and many big bucks being checked in.

Hunters reported a preliminary harvest of 72,111 (60 percent bucks), up from 66,501 in the first season in 2011.

Farmer sent this report: ‘‘With the near-perfect weather, we probably had our best hunt ever with a harvest of 12 deer out of 13 tags! No giants were killed. We had six bucks and six does. Included in the buck tally were two button bucks.’’

I was at the Grundy County check-in Friday morning at Gebhard Woods State Park, and mostly bucks — including quality ones — were being checked in.

Late Friday, forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton, who was at the Jo Daviess County check-in, said they had potential Boone and Crockett deer being checked in. By evening, he said the line stretched two vehicles deep for hundreds of yards.

I think there will be a blip upward — perhaps even a significant one — in entries for the Boone and Crockett Club, the keeper of big-game hunting records (among other things), from this year in Illinois.

† In Indiana, more than 150,000 will hunt during the firearm season, which runs through Dec. 2.
Jeff Pals, a scorer and avid bowhunter from Crete, took advantage of Indiana regulations, which allow hunters to use bows during firearm season.

His 10-year-old son, Gerrit, worked hard to meet the Indiana requirement to pull a 35-pound bow. It paid off Saturday in Newton County. While Pals was installing portable stands, a buck approached. He alerted his son on the ground, and Gerrit arrowed his first buck as it came out of a ditch.

‘‘I am convinced the buck heard me attaching the climbing sticks and assumed there was another buck making a rub,’’ Pals emailed. ‘‘He was trying to get to our exact location when he presented Gerrit with the shot.’’

† In Wisconsin, where the nine-day gun season runs through Sunday, preliminary results from opening weekend were 134,772 deer registered by the more than 600,000 hunters.

Tom Hauge, the director of the wildlife-management program for the Wisconsin DNR, said he expects that harvest number to increase as all registration stubs are entered.

‘‘Though a light dusting of snow would have provided ideal conditions for hunting, warm and dry weather does tend to allow people to stay out in the field or the tree stand longer,’’ he said.

Wisconsin saw a 19 percent increase from the 2011 harvest. Buck harvest was up 24 percent.

† In Michigan, about 650,000 hunters are expected for the regular firearm deer season, which runs through Nov. 30. Michiganoutofdoors.com has a video of a possible typical record shot by 16-year-old Will Finkler.

Stray cast

That Bears game Monday was blown out as much as the lake-trout outing I had planned for the Port of Indiana the week after Superstorm Sandy.



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