(photo/Richard Smith, Shutterstock)

First Deer Legally Hunted in Chicago in Over 150 Years

A Chicago hunter legally took the first deer within city limits since the Civil War. Officials say that’s good news for the city’s problematic deer population.

On Oct. 2, Jose Guzman climbed into his treestand in southeast Chicago’s William Powers State Recreation Area. Soon, he loosed a bolt that put him in the record books.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Guzman used his crossbow to harvest the first deer a hunter had legally taken “within the Chicago limits” in more than 150 years. The outlet said he took the doe in the early morning hours after a short stalk.

“I was sitting on the edge of the woods and it came up behind me,” Guzman told the Sun-Times. “She came out with other does, and within a minute I had taken my shot.”

The Sun-Times cited Joel Greenberg’s 2002 book “A Natural History of the Chicago Region” to state that the last hunter who legally took a deer in the city did it in 1865. First ward alderman William Cox’s son provided the account on page 452, the outlet said.

Responsible Hunting a Positive for Chicago Deer

The newly opened hunting season is a positive thing for the city’s beleaguered deer population, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) representative said.

That’s because the deer have brought chronic wasting disease to the area, along with increased poaching, trespassing and “other undesirable activities,” Nicky Strahl, hunter heritage and wildlife biologist for the IDNR, told the Sun-Times in an email.

Bringing in hunters will increase the park’s desirable activities while reducing undesirable ones by having more park visitors at all times of day.

“Opening up this opportunity puts more eyes on the ground by people who wish to help and care for the land (after all without healthy terrestrial environment, wildlife will not thrive as well),” Strahl said.

Guzman, a member of Bass and Gill Club in Plainfield, Ill., started deer hunting about 5 years ago, the Sun-Times found. After he harvested an eight-point buck last year, he told the outlet he regarded his licensed hunting privileges this year in Chicago with gravity.

“It is a great honor, but also a great responsibility,” he told reporter Dale Bowman. “I have to take that animal ethically with minimal amount of impact to the community. I will only take the shot when it is apparent I have a good shot.

“It is a great privilege to be allowed in the area, I get to set the tone,” he continued. “We’re helping to manage the deer population. It’s not like we don’t need the management program. Deer and wildlife management as a whole is really important.”

Deer Hunting: New to This Chicago Rec Area

The IDNR opened the first deer hunting season at William Powers this October. Eight of 37 applicants earned a 14-day hunting period, per the Sun-Times. Guzman’s came first, running from opening day of archery season on Oct. 1 through Oct. 14.

This Saturday, Oct. 8, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance will host a Family Outdoor Day at William Powers with fishing, archery, shotgun shooting, and interactive learning activities. It’s open to all on a free registration basis via eventbrite.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.