Inside Outdoors

Ralph Loos

Illinois Editor

Is an award really an award even if you did nothing to earn said

That’s the question many are asking about the Illinois Deer Pin,
which is supposed to go to hunters who successfully harvest a deer
during the state’s various seasons. It was once a cherished piece
of flair, a tiny and simple accessory with an almighty ability to
make friends and influence others.

Way back when, if you walked into a room with a deer pin on your
cap or jacket, the message was unmistakable: You, my friend, had
gotten your deer.

Today, the message might be: “I was too lazy to get out of bed
and hunt a deer – heck, I was too lazy to apply for a deer permit –
but I found this deer pin on craigslist, and it’s a great
conversation starter with the chicks.”

Yep. That guy.

The notion that things had gotten out of hand came to me awhile
back when I was searching eBay for a book on deer diseases. (Talk
about your conversation starters with the ladies. Imagine the aura
of a man sitting in a Starbucks with a leather-bound copy of that
in his hands!)

Anyway, during my search I stumbled across an Illinois Deer Pin
from 1979. The seller was asking $160.

Sure, I realize there are honest collectors out there, some who
may be looking for a ’79 pin to complete their collection, sort of
like how I might be in the market for a 1974 Ted Simmons baseball
card to complete my shrine dedicated to history’s most underrated

But I also know there are people buying pins in order to brag
about deer they never killed.

A recent e-mail from Darrell Page, of Roseville, confirmed that
I’m not the only one worried about the easy access to deer pins:
“My concern is that in our area of west-central Illinois, vendors
are handing out the pins to anyone that asks for a pin without any
proof that the individual has harvested a deer,” Page wrote. “I
just had to purchase a pin off eBay due to none being

Page harvested a doe during the second firearms season and tried
later tried to get his pin at one of DNR’s vendors. He was told
that the vendor was out of pins and unsure when they would receive

“They did, however, offer me an archery pin,” Page reported. “I
explained that, as I had not taken a deer by archery, I was not
entitled to an archery pin. They said that it didn’t matter to them
and that I should take one.

“I did not take the pin but I asked them how they determined if
an individual was eligible to receive a pin. They said that if
someone asked, they gave them a pin.”

A second vendor told Page that they did not ask for confirmation
about a harvest before giving out the pins, either.

He added, “In asking around I was told by several people that
they knew of people that do not even have deer permits or hunting
licenses that had gone around to vendors and received pins and then
turned around and sold them.”

With all of the messes DNR finds itself muddled in these days,
some might call the awarding of deer pins an insignificant issue
not worth fighting over.


But those are probably the same people who’ve never earned

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