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Local Sports

OUTDOORS: Things you should know about white-tailed deer

White-tailed deer can be found from Canada and most states except the Southwest. During summer, they are tan in color, but almost grey in winter. They are white around the throat and eyes. They are also white on their belly and under the tail, which can be seen easily when they are alarmed. When on the alert, the tail rises straight up, and the animal will usually take to flight shortly.

They are a herbivore, that is they feed mostly on plants and grain. In winter, they will feed on acorns and the buds on trees.

Like cattle, they have four portions of stomachs for digesting food. After eating, their food passes through two of them and is mixed with bile. It then is regurgitated and rechewed before entering the last two. It then enters the intestines, where it is changed into protein or waste.

During my outdoor ventures, I have seen white-tail deer in many different environments. They prefer wooded areas with good cover, but can adapt to others very easily. I have seen them in farm country without any cover at all. One day while running my trapline, I saw a whole family out on a prairie along a creek. There was a huge buck and two does right along the creek, and I was able to get very close to them with my truck.

Many times they have come into town and feasted on my green beans in my garden. In other words, they are very adaptable. They can be very destructive as well, as the bucks can remove all of the bark on small trees when removing velvet, which will kill the tree. They can devastate a young soybean field during late spring.

If there is a way to survive, the deer will find it.

They are subject to several diseases in Illinois and surrounding states. Most, like Chronic Wasting Disease and Hoof and Mouth, are almost always fatal. Many colleges are working on a way to eliminate these diseases, but so far have not come up with any good answers. The state is using a sharpshooting program to eliminate areas that have tested for these diseases. Most local folks and hunters despise this practice.

Hunting report

Many hunters are now fine-tuning their varmint guns for the upcoming groundhog season, June 1. Farmers with livestock hate them, as they create holes which can cripple cattle. They also feast on young soybeans. With the high price on coyote fur, it is not advisable to hunt them until fall, even though the season is open all year. The winter coat trim trade has created a very good market for coyote fur.

Fishing report

With the constant rains, river fishing remains poor except for channel catfish. They are hitting below brush piles on both the Fox and Illinois rivers. It is hard to seine any live bait now, but commercial dip baits are working well. Try fishing below current breaks on both rivers.

Cooling lake action has been very good. Heidecke Lake in Grundy County is producing crappie and some good catches of big walleye. La Salle Lake is still good for some nice bluegill, stripers and both blue and channel catfish. Braidwood has been fair for largemouth bass.

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