Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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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, walking.

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