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The Black Desert

The Black Desert

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The Black Desert

193 pagine
3 ore
Jan 25, 2012


THE BLACK DESERT is a story about one mans life experiences hunting in Central Illinois. The author talks about the changes that have taken place over the last 40 years in hunting, farming, and the economy as well as the changes in peoples attitudes.
Its a story about a bow hunter fighting for a piece of the pie in the competitive world of deer hunting. The book has some serious messages, and is sprinkled with hilarious stories and colorful characters. Using several different real life experiences, the author conveys to the reader the direction the sport of hunting has taken, and the direction it is headed. The book provides the reader a rare opportunity to take a peek inside the real world of deer hunting in Illinois, from a seasoned hunter right in the middle of it all, without any sugar coating. Its a story about the competition for hunting ground, and the quest for the almighty antlers, and about the people who will do almost anything to get them.
Jan 25, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Mitch Myers is a writer, historian, and psychologist based in Chicago and New York City. His unique pop commentaries have been broadcast on NPR's All Things Consideredand published in a variety of journals, magazines, and websites. He also maintains the Shel Silverstein Archive in Chicago.

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The Black Desert - Mitch Myers

The Black Desert

Mitch Myers


1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403

Phone: 1-800-839-8640

© 2012 by Mitch Myers. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

This book is fiction and any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

First published by AuthorHouse 01/19/2012

ISBN: 978-1-4685-3817-5 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4685-3816-8 (ebk)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011963709

Printed in the United States of America

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.







3 D
























Before the 2011 deer season, I announced to several friends and family members that I was going to keep a daily journal chronicling each day of the deer season, I then promised I would write a book about it. I had no idea what I would be writing about in particular, but if past seasons provided any clue, I knew I would have no problem getting plenty of material.

As I began to write, I realized these day to day experiences made no sense without some background. I then decided to tell the story starting from the beginning. I felt this would best explain why everything was in place the way it was at the beginning of the 2011 season.

Every season had its adventures and misadventures, but the 2011 season was a bit more sensational than seasons past for sure. It turned out to be a roller coaster ride on which I would experience every possible emotion a human being is capable of feeling.

After I finished the book and read it, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the light it shed on my sport, and there was no feel good message. I had another issue to contend with as well. I’d received a ticket for violating a law while hunting. As it stood, very few people knew about it, and putting it in a book was not the way to go about keeping it quiet. Others hunting with me and around me had violated laws as well, some pretty serious, and I knew they would prefer it be kept quiet.

After thinking it over for about a week, I decided not to publish my book. I decided just to keep the manuscript for my friends and family, and leave it at that. I just wanted the whole season to drift into the past until the time came that is was nothing more than a distant memory, and would be practically forgotten altogether. I knew my kids and others who knew I was writing the book would be really disappointed if I decided not to publish it, and didn’t know how I would explain it to them.

The day I ran into the two bird hunters that I talk about toward the end of the book, helped me change my tune a little bit. I felt better about hunting after that day. The realization that no one I know is perfect, and that I don’t have to be perfect either, nudged me a little more. I decided that since I am only human, I am entitled to be ignorant about certain things and to lack judgment at times, just like everyone else. I felt comfortable with admitting that. I also felt I had a story that came at hunting from an angle unique to anything I’d ever read before, and thought some people may find it interesting. After much consideration, I decided to proceed with publishing this book.

I also saw the book as a way to send a helpful message. After talking to many other deer hunters about it, I realized most were totally ignorant when it came to the laws regarding putting minerals out for deer, just like I was. My ignorance and lack of judgment is no excuse, and I take full responsibility for it. Everyone I talked to after my incident said they knew better than to put them out and hunt over them, but very few were aware you can’t put them out at all, and if they did know, as I found out, most were ignoring it completely. I personally knew of the law, but didn’t take it seriously. I thought it was like going 70 mph in a 65 mph zone, or wagering on a football game. Even though breaking this law amounts to nothing more than a traffic ticket, it is still something hunters need to be clear on.

Putting minerals out is acceptable in most every other state, and was acceptable in Illinois up until about 5 years ago. A few cases of Chronic Wasting Disease reported in a few northernmost counties of the state prompted the state to change the law for fear of this disease spreading throughout the herd. Like many laws in our state made to benefit Chicago, this is another law needed up north that has absolutely no merit or purpose in our area.

The fact that these baits fill shelves in every store with a sporting goods section in Illinois doesn’t help either. What kind of message does that give the hunter when he sees a whole aisle dedicated to nothing but these products? I can think of no other example where a product has been banned from use on a federal or state level, but is still readily available for sale in practically every store you walk into. This is certainly a unique situation, and definitely very confusing to hunters.

I contacted Senator Bill Brady’s office about the issue and was told that these products cannot be banned because they are instrumental in the feeding of domestic livestock. If they are for feeding livestock then why are there pictures of deer on every package, and why are they in the hunting section? We do own domestic livestock, and we do buy mineral products in the domestic livestock section, not in the deer hunting section. I highly doubt many farmers go into a sporting goods store, and go to the deer hunting section to purchase essential nutrients for their livestock.

Obviously, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources doesn’t take the CWD threat seriously either. If they did, they too would push to have these products taken off of the shelves. If they aren’t willing to take it seriously, how can they expect anyone else to take it seriously? Hopefully this book will serve to educate those who aren’t aware, or are confused by this law, and hopefully, it will ultimately result in the banning of these products from the shelves.

I did my best in this book to tell my story accurately. The real story in its entirety is far more fascinating and sensational than what I was able to put into print. After consulting an attorney, I learned freedom of speech in America doesn’t really exist anymore. Out of respect for many of the people written about, in order to protect the sport of hunting, and to avoid legal problems in the form of libel, I had to keep certain events that took place during the season out of the book. Even though it is a watered down version of the complete story, the story itself is all there. I hope you enjoy this unique look into the world of deer hunting.

"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the

wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in

which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors

experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a

better person."

                                                   Fred Bear


I wasn’t here when the Indians lived and hunted on the very ground I hunt now. I know they were here though, right here. There’s a rock with a plaque on it telling the story of a trading post where white men traded with Indians on the corner of the property near where I hunt. I wasn’t around when the white man invaded their hunting grounds and pushed them west. I’m sure they tried to defend their right to hunt and live there, but they were driven out with the passage of the Indian Removal Act. The last treaty between the United States and the Indians of Illinois was made with the Kickapoo in 1833, when that group agreed to relocate in Kansas. I wasn’t here then, but I’ve read about it. Learning history is important, it tends to repeat itself.

I wasn’t here when the white man moved into the area, and within a short time, hunted a bountiful deer population to extinction in our state. In 1912, the last native whitetail deer in the state died in southern Illinois, due to a combination of overhunting, and destruction of habitat for farming.

I wasn’t here when my grandpa hunted this very same ground, but he told me about it. He lived in a house, just one hundred yards from the property I hunt on. He told me when he was a kid; they used to go out when there was a deep snow, with nothing but a stick, and kill enough rabbits to fill up a clothesline from one end to the other. He spent his whole life fishing the same river I’ve fished many times in my life, often with him, and the river I hunt near today.

I was around in the early seventies, but don’t really remember what things were like. All I know is how it was described to me. The fall was indeed golden. By the time bird season came in around the first part of November, there were still many unharvested corn fields, and those fields that were harvested, were rarely plowed until the following spring. This provided great cover for wildlife. Pheasants and quail were everywhere in our area, and every fall, locals took to the field to take part in a tradition much older than our country itself. It was a family activity enjoyed by fathers and sons. Entire families often went on special occasions, like around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everyone was together. Hedgerows were common between the fields as well, providing thick cover for game birds.

Deer were rarely seen, but they were here again. Due to a relocation effort by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, by 1970 there were deer in every county in the state of Illinois. I know there were very few deer in our area because I remember word getting out that there were three deer standing in a field outside of town, and remember cars were lined up along the road, filled with people looking at them in amazement.

It was a time of great opportunity in Central Illinois, especially around Decatur. Firestone, Caterpillar and ADM were going strong, not to mention other factories providing quality jobs like Mueller’s and Wagner’s. It was a time when a man could get a good paying job without an extensive education. It was a time when anyone who wanted to work hard could make a good living and support their family. It was also a time when anyone who wanted to hunt could find a place to go, and there was enough game for everyone.

When I was around 13 years old, I was more than ready to take to the fields and do some real hunting; I just had to persuade my parents to agree with me. I had been a hunter since a very early age, I just hadn’t hunted anything officially. I got a BB gun at the age of 7, and spent every spare moment shooting it. I shot butterflies, grasshoppers, birds, anything that presented a challenge. I shot acorns off trees, hickory nuts and would shoot a corn stalk at the base over and over until finally, it would fall over. I even shot the neighbor kid in the leg one time. By the time I was 11, I’d worn out 6 or 7 guns. When I was 12, my dad turned me loose with his .22 rifle. We lived in the country so I was able to shoot it whenever I wanted, and that I did. I shot it all the time, and I loved it.

Other than small critters, the only thing I’d killed of any size was a groundhog. When I was 7, I shot one on my grandpa’s farm in Kentucky. I have a picture of me, proudly holding my trophy. It was easy, he was just lying there asleep, and I walked up and shot him. They did a lot of damage to the tobacco field so I remember my dad and grandpa were constantly trying to shoot them, but were rarely successful. It didn’t seem so hard to me.

I’m not sure when it hit me, but I was much, much older, maybe around 35. I was sitting thinking about those days in Kentucky, and remembered that whole groundhog hunt vividly. I remember walking to within a few feet of that groundhog. It was lying on its side in a tobacco field. I couldn’t see the whole animal, only a part of him. I remember struggling in order to see him through the scope of the rifle, but couldn’t because he was too close. I remember my grandpa telling me just to point and shoot. Once it hit me, I called my dad and asked. Sure enough, that groundhog was already dead!

I began to bug my dad about taking me hunting. He told me there was nothing to hunt anymore. He said all of the game was practically gone, and he didn’t think it was a good idea to kill what was left. He was also real busy finishing our new house that he built himself. I think it took him 10 years or so to get everything completed. He hunted when he was younger, and even had beagle hounds. I kept hearing the country kids at school talking about the adventures hunting, and it sounded fascinating. I began pouring over hunting magazines whenever I could find one, reading the articles, and gazing at the guns pictured. I just HAD to go hunting. I was persistent, so finally, Dad agreed to take me out to hunt pheasants, rabbits and quail.

There was a whole section of timber across the road from our house. The bottoms were filled with grass and corn fields, and there was big timber all around on the higher areas. I was beyond excited that first day, but I had no idea what to expect. We hunted a good part of that area that first day. We flushed a couple of coveys of quail, several pheasants, and a ton of rabbits,

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