Southern Illinois: a hunter’s haven

By Gus Bode

Arrows were flying as the start of October brought the start of bow-hunting season.

Archery season kicked-off  Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 15., which means deer can only be hunted with bows and arrows as opposed to firearm hunting which runs Nov. 18-20.

Gary Apgar, interim department chair and associate professor in animal science food and nutrition, said archery hunting presents a different set of challenges than firearm hunting.


“There is more greenery on the trees which limits your visibility, and the deer tend to move differently,” Apgar said.

Hunting is more than a sport in southern Illinois said Jon Schoonover, assistant professor of physical hydrology and forest soils. He said the skill of hunting is passed down through generations and can be considered a way of life.

“I started hunting when I was about 8, as soon as I was old enough to read and pass the hunters safety exam,” Schoonover said. “I started with my dad, and it’s always been a family tradition.”

Apgar said the sport of hunting can also be used as a way for people bond.

“Sitting in a tree stand last year with my daughter, we were able to see a big owl within about eight feet from our tree,” Apgar said. “The things you see show perspective, there’s more to life than an office building and a computer screen.”

Apgar said hunting takes a lot of patience because hunters will sit in stands suspended in the trees and hunt for hours at a time.

Apgar said he finds the patience of the sport to be relieving and it gives him an experience that he cannot find anywhere else.


“For me it not about the harvest, its the opportunity to leave all of this stuff behind,” Apgar said.

Schoonover said hunters’ objective has shifted from a natural experience to a business, as he said hunting is a way to generate revenue. He said while many people have started to understand the economic value of hunting, others have begun to lease their land so others can’t hunt on it. Schoonover said it’s become more difficult to find a place to hunt because there is more private ground.

Although private ground is more prevalent, Apgar said southern Illinois still has many open areas available to the public for hunting. He said the Shawnee National Forest has hundreds of acres throughout the region, some of which are available to hunt.

Even with hundreds of acres of open forest public, there are still challenges to public hunting.

Kyle Kuhns a junior from Altamont studying agricultural systems, said everything comes down to the basic rules of hunting: Keep an eye out so other hunters don’t get hurt.

“Anybody and everybody will be out hunting on public ground. You could have someone walk right in front of you,” he said.