‘Let’s hunt twice:’ 2015 deer pins honor Mr. Cub

Springfield — Next deer season’s mantra is still very much open for debate, but there is clearly a front runner.

“It’s a great day for a deer hunt; let’s hunt twice!”

This idea floats after DNR Director Wayne Rosenthal announced that the 2015 Deer Pin will have a “Cub Blue” background to honor the memory of Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks, also known as “Mr. Cub,” who died Jan. 23. 

Deer pins have traditionally been given to hunters in the state who successfully harvest a deer. Many hunters avidly hold on to the pins as a symbol and memory of past hunts. Some collect pins and at least one has started a business around the collector’s items (see Page 19).

“Deer pins used to be given out at check stations when hunters checked their deer,” DNR spokesman Chris Young noted. “When check stations were discontinued, pins were given to license vendors to be given to those who asked.”

 DNR still distributes a special black and white deer pin at the two dozen or so CWD check stations. 

The deer pins, along with turkey pins and morel mushroom pins, are available to anyone and can be ordered from the Illinois Conservation Found­ation for $5 each. 

Banks, who played 19 years for the Cubs, was active in the Chicago community during and after his tenure with the Cubs. He founded a charitable organization, became the first black Ford Motor Company dealer in the United States, and made an unsuccessful bid for a local political office. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1999, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to sports. 

When Banks received the medal from President Obama, who grew up as a White Sox fan on the south side of Chicago, he explained the origin of the “Let’s Play Two” slogan.

“It was a very bad day in Chicago,” Banks said. “I came into the locker room, and I was feeling great. And I said to all my teammates, ‘It’s a beautiful day ­– let’s play two!’ That was a time in my life that I was really excited about going to Wrigley Field.”

The Cubs retired Banks’ uniform number 14 in 1982.

“Illinois hunters and conservationists respect the ideals of hard work and fair play that Ernie Banks lived by every day,” said Rosenthal. “Making our deer pin Cub Blue for 2015 is just a small token of our appreciation for the example Ernie Banks set for all of us.”

The new 2015 deer pins will be available for sale in time for the 2015 season, which begins with the opening of archery deer hunting on Oct. 1. 

DNR last offered a special deer pin in 2007, which marked the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the state’s deer season.

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