A hunter made history Sunday, Oct. 2, when he became the first person to legally harvest a deer within the city limits of Chicago since 1865. Jose Guzman was shooting a bow on a climbing stand about 25 feet above a tree on the south side of the Windy City when the deer approached him from behind. “I set up my stand the day before and got up at 4 in the morning so I could be there at 5:19,” Guzman said. Field & Stream. “A big deer walked under my tree and I made a good shot from 7 yards away.”
Guzman took the deer at William Powers State Recreation Area, a 160-acre state park nestled among massive oil refineries, auto manufacturing complexes and densely packed residential areas. Now a state park that welcomes anglers, hikers, bikers and dog walkers, the recreation area was once used by the US military to develop anti-aircraft missiles.
According to IDNR wildlife biologist Nicky Strahl, who piloted the new deer hunting program at William Powers, Chronic Blast Disease has been detected in the county where Guzman killed his deer, and poaching is an ongoing issue in the park. . Persistent gang and drug-related activities have also caused problems, Strahl said F&S, and she hopes the presence of archery hunters during the new deer season will help alleviate some of those problems. “It will put more eyes on the ground from responsible and ethical hunters who actually want to encourage the proper use of available resources,” she added. “We hope this will reduce poaching and other less scrupulous activities.”
Strahl said she lobbied hard for the new urban hunting program, and she hopes to replicate it in other parts of the Chicagoland area. “Waterfowl hunting has been going on since the wetlands started there,” she said. “So I asked the powers that be, ‘Why don’t we allow deer archery if we have people shooting waterfowl with shotguns?’ And almost everyone said, ‘Well, because it might look bad.’ So I said, ‘Prove it,’ and nobody could.
Guzman said he considered it a privilege to participate in the first sanctioned deer hunt in Chicago’s modern history. “It’s a real honor, but also a responsibility, because I have the power to set the tone for how the public perceives this program,” he said. “This first deer had to be taken ethically and with minimal disruption to the surrounding community. I put the deer on and loaded it out of sight so I wouldn’t create an unpleasant experience for an old lady walking her dog.”
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While urban archery hunting is a new means of wildlife management within the city limits of Chicago, it is very new to the state of Illinois. Other metropolitan areas in the Land of Lincoln require the help of bow and arrow hunters to bring down the city’s deer population when the herds become overpopulated. In Sangomon County, for example — home of the state capital of Springfield — 937 of the 1,517 deer harvested during the 2019 season were taken with archery equipment.
According to Guzman, IDNR went above and beyond in its efforts to facilitate Chicago’s first urban hunt. “Nicky and her team did a great job informing hunters of the basic rules,” he said. “We had windshield cards and gate keys to lure the deer out of sight. They helped participants understand that wildlife management is a tool that keeps deer herds under control and ensures their long-term survival.”
Guzman was one of only eight applicants granted a permit to hunt the William Powers Recreation Area this fall. The archery-only hunt began on October 1st and will run through January 15th.