The good news? The Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic saw an upswing in Boone & Crockett Club qualifiers after two down years. The bad news? Add a seventh Illinois county, Stephenson, to those with a confirmed case of chronic wasting disease.
Glenn Helgeland, Classic honcho, did me a favor and crunched some trophy numbers from the 605 mounts measured at the Interstate Center in Bloomington the last weekend of February.
As might be expected, most of the bow kills qualified (190 qualifiers in all) for Pope & Young Club, keeper of bow records.
Among the 48 that qualified for Boone & Crockett Club, keeper of big-game records, 20 were bow kills, 19 firearms kills, one a black powder kill and eight didn't have hunting tool noted.
To qualify for B&C, a typical must scored 170 inches or more; a non-typical 195 or more. To qualify for P&Y, a typical must score 125 or more; a non-typical 155 or more. Helgeland noted it was no surprise that not one of the B&C qualifiers were less than a 10-pointer.
At the end, he tossed in a couple comments of note.
``Too, the Adams/Pike/Brown area isn't producing whoppers like it once did. We had more entries from Knox County than from those other three combined. Actually, entries are from all over the state. Amazing!''
And he added one of my favorite quotes about Illinois deer hunting:
``Where the hell do they hide? In the drainage ditches?''
The upswing to 48 B&C qualifiers ended a two-year skid of note at the Classic. In 2005, the peak came with 56 B&C qualifiers. That dropped to 45 in 2006 and less than 40 last year.
I'm not sure what the upturn this year means. Or if it means anything more than guys were stir crazy in this wacky winter and the weekend was nice enough to draw a bigger crowd than last year.
As to the bad news, Stephenson became the seventh county with a confirmed case of CWD. It was one of the 24 positive cases detected last fall and winter from more than 4,100 deer tested.
Here is the formal announcement from the IDNR.
``CWD Update: Ongoing surveillance for the presence of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in Illinois last fall and this winter has detected 24 deer testing positive for CWD. The IDNR has received results on tests of more than 4,100 deer which were harvested by hunters or taken by IDNR personnel as part of the 2007-08 deer season sampling program. The testing has identified the first positive case of CWD from Stephenson County in northern Illinois. The other most recent cases of CWD were found in deer from Boone (7 deer), DeKalb (6) and Winnebago (10) counties. Results are still pending on more than 2,000 additional samples collected since last fall. The first case of CWD detected in Stephenson County came from a deer taken west of Freeport. IDNR staff members are collecting additional samples from deer in Stephenson County to determine if other sick deer are present. The IDNR began more intensive sampling of deer for chronic wasting disease after the first deer with CWD were found in Boone and Winnebago counties in 2002. Since then, Illinois has recorded a total of 213 deer positive for the disease in Winnebago (89 deer), Boone (82), DeKalb (22), McHenry (16), Ogle (2), LaSalle (1) and Stephenson (1) counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease found in deer and elk. It is not known to be contagious to livestock or humans.''