Shotgun season brings family together

By Gus Bode

For many in southern Illinois, the first shotgun season of the year means time to spend with family and friends.

Taylor Green, of Unity, was out and ready to hunt at 6 a.m. Saturday with her grandfather, Jim Richards, of Mounds City.

Green, 14, said her grandfather has been teaching her to hunt for two years.


“I enjoy it, but I like spending time with him more than anything,” she said.

Richards gave Green her first gun for this hunting season, which began Friday and ended Sunday.

The next firearm season is Dec. 1 through 4.

In almost complete silence in the middle of Richards’ 22-acre property, he spotted a deer and fired two shots. The deer got away — which began the two-hour process of tracking the animal.

“Grandpa taught me how to do this,” Green said as she ran off to find a trail of blood, hoping to find where the deer had collapsed.

Richards said he feels an ethical obligation to track down injured animals.


“We’re in business now,” he said as he and his granddaughter found a puddle of blood gathered on a pile of leaves.

Green said she had never been with Richards when he shot a deer.

She ran through the woods searching carefully for more signs of the injured deer.

The pair never found the deer, but kept many souvenirs such as leaves and twigs with drops of blood on them to show the others that were hunting.

“We have to keep stuff to show the boys,” Richards said. “That’s why they call it hunting and not killing.”

Nick Nichols and his family came to join Richards. Richards and Nichols met in 1966 during the Vietnam War, when they served in Thailand together.

Nichols said he has taught his son how to hunt, but his brother and Richards have also helped along the way.

Nichols helped Green during their target practice Saturday.

The 20-gauge gun they used belonged to Richards’ father.

Richards said he grew up hunting with his dad, who hunted, trapped and fished as a way of life.

“For my dad it was more of necessity than anything,” he said. “I can go to the store to get my meat wrapped in plastic. This isn’t about necessity for me.”

After the kill, hunters either dress their deer themselves or take them to a processing business.

TALK Deer Processing in Goreville cuts the meat in cuts such as sausage, bologna, slim jims and jerky.

James Peebels, a supervisor for the deer processing business, said they have gotten almost 500 deer from shotgun season. He said they may get more deer throughout the week after hunters debone the deer.

Peebles said fathers and sons, brothers and uncles bring in their deer, and the business is as much of a family tradition as hunting.

Timothy and Tamie Klein, owners of TALK Deer, have owned and operated the business for 17 years.

Timothy Klein said he grew up in the line of work.

Richards said hunting is something one has to grow up with to appreciate.

He said his granddaughter is not quite at the level she needs to be at to hunt without him, but with practice she’ll eventually be able to teach others.

“She will be better next year,” Richards said.