May 20, 2024

Once upon a time not too long ago there was a place filled with hunters dressed in orange, gathered around trucks and looking at deer from all around.  This place was magical for many hunters young and old.  it was a place called a Check Station.

As a kid I was always excited about deer season opening.  In Illinois where I grew up and still reside,
we were and still are allowed 3 days to shotgun hunt for deer for the opening firearm season.  It was always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  That Friday got to become a state holiday for all of us around this state.  Kids got to miss school with a note from their parents at any age.  The hunt was obviously the highlight for everyone.  But for a lot of us, each evening was a close second.  Each country in the state had one centralized place where all the hunters had to bring their deer to check into the state.  To a young kid, it was jaw dropping.  This was back when Illinois was harvesting massive deer all the time.  There would be trucks lined up for a mile down the road for hours every night.  You could walk up and down the road looking in the back of all the trucks and seeing monster buck after monster buck everywhere.  20-30 years later, I still have many clear memories of nights spent at the check station and talking with all these hunters from all over the county.  A lot has changed since those days.

States all over the country are eliminating these face to face check-in stations.  Instead they are implementing a phone-in system or a online check-in system.  I am all for technology and keeping things modern.  But I think this is a mistake.  These states are cutting these manned stations with the excuse that its for cost savings.  But correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t all these stations manned by college students working for free?  Most of the ones in ILL were anyway.  And even the check stations during the full length archery season were located at stores and didn’t cost the state anything.  Ridding the state of check stations may save the state a dollar or two, according to them.  But it is causing more harm than good.

I am no expert or have any proof, but just look at the numbers.  In Illinois, the “recorded” harvest numbers has been dropping every year since our state got rid of check stations.  To me, this isn’t just a coincidence.  This opens the door for every hunter out there to have the option to record their deer to the state.   I know I know, by law they are required to phone in their deer or get online and submit it.  But I am sure every ILL hunter out there knows someone that has not checked in a deer.  It happens a lot on accident but I am sure it happens a lot more than anyone thinks on purpose.  Just think about it.  Who is going to catch them?  The state got rid of most of the Game Wardens in the process also.

Another problem this causes is a huge loss to all the stores and businesses that hosted these check stations.  They need these hunters coming to their stores.  They depend on them.  Most hunters will bring their deer to check-in and will usually shop for new supplies.  It was a major hit to the economy.

But, I will say one good thing about the loss of Check Stations.  I can just picture as like when I was a kid walking down the road admiring all the big deer Today there would be a bunch of outfitters or leasing agents doing the same but handing out business cards.  So I suppose that’s a good thing.