Nature Bulletin No. 40 November 10, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Robert Mann, Superintendent of Conservation
November 11th is Armistice Day commemorating the end of World
War 1, but not for Illinois wildlife. It is the opening date of the hunting
season when an army of half a million Illinois hunters take up arms
against the cottontail rabbit, the ringneck pheasant and the bobwhite
quail. Bear in mind that no hunting or trapping is permitted anywhere in
the Forest Preserve District or on any highway.
Hunters will get their pheasants in the fields and fence rows of the
northern half of the state, and almost all their quail in the stubble and
brier patches of the southern half. The cottontail is common throughout
the state and makes up from two-thirds to three-quarters of the total
game kill. The average rabbit dressed for cooking weighs about 1 1/2
pounds, the pheasant about 2 1/2 pounds and the quail about a third of a
pound. Enough game is killed each fall to give each Illinois family one
good mess s of home-grown game.
The pheasant season closes on November 25, the quail season on
December ll and the rabbit season on January 31. The dove season has
already come and gone and so has the squirrel season excepting in the
northern zone which closes November 15. The waterfowl season is still
open. The season on fur-bearing animals opens November 15.
The rabbit is the standby of the ordinary hunter. Few people with a
shotgun or a rifle, a handful of ammunition and a few hours leisure will
fail to find some rabbit shooting within a few miles of their home s. A
hunting license is required for everyone but a landowner or tenant
hunting on his own land. Since about 95 percent of all game is killed on
private property, it is usually necessary to get the permission of the
landowner. As a matter of law, as well as of courtesy, this should
always be done.
It is no news to Illinois hunters that rabbits are the most convenient and
economical game to hunt, pound for pound, but many people hesitate to
handle or eat them because of tularemia (rabbit fever). This anxiety has
been more common since the 1938 and 1939 hunting season when over
400 cases were reported in the state. In recent years the number has
dropped to about fifty cases annually with only one death per year. The
tularemia hazard drops rapidly after the onset of cold weather in the fall
because the ticks which transmit the disease from rabbit to rabbit go
into hibernation. For this reason the hazard is always less in the
northern part of the state than in the central and southern parts. This is
especially important because statistics show that half of the total kill is
usually made during the first week or two.
The best thing about hunting is that it gets people out on their feet,
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Update: June 2012