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The nine juvenile whooping cranes that passed through The Pantagraph area on their way south on their first ultralight-led migration have apparently decided they didn’t want to wind up in Florida.

Officials have decided to lead them to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County, Ala., after they refused to go any farther.

The cranes were intended to spend the winter at St. Marks and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuges along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

They are the 11th group guided south from Wisconsin by ultralight aircraft.

The effort is part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s reintroduction project to restore the endangered species to its historic range in eastern North America.

About 111 whooping cranes have been reintroduced.

Big deer

According to Boone and Crockett Club, trophy whitetail entries for recognition are up 400 percent over the past 30 years.

“It’s worth remembering where America’s favorite big-game species stood not so long ago — at the brink of extinction,” said Ben Wallace, club president.  “In 1900, less than 500,000 whitetails remained. But habitat programs, research, science-based management, regulations and enforcement, all led and funded by hunters, brought this game animal back to extraordinary levels. Today there are more than 32 million whitetails!”

For the period 1980-1985, hunters entered 617 trophy whitetails into Boone and Crockett records.

For the period 2005-2010, the total jumped to 3,090.

The top states for 2005-2010 for typical and non-typical trophies combined were Wisconsin, 383 entries; Illinois, 299 entries; Iowa, 224 entries; Ohio, 215 entries; and Missouri, 214 entries.

Kudos to Chauncey

Congratulations to my long-time friend Chauncey Niziol for being chosen among the 2012 class to join the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Niziol is an outdoor writer and broadcaster, host of “Chauncey’s Great Outdoors” on WMVP ESPN 1000 in Chicago at 6 a.m. each Saturday, and writes fishing reports.

Others in the class include the late Casimir “Cass” Sliwa of Chicago, who led Salmon Unlimited for years; Warren Gale of Orion, a Quad Cities area conservationist; and Allie Lymenstull of Quincy, the longtime president of the Mississippi Valley Hunters’ and Fishermen’s Association.

More honors

Congratulations also go out to Jim Skibo, who was appointed distinguished professor at Illinois State’s College of Arts and Sciences.

ISU President Al Bowman made the appointment recently, citing his work to “lead us to a greater understanding of historic cultures through their artifacts, most specifically pottery, but he has provided his colleagues in the discipline with guidance on the process of linking artifacts and culture.”

The Pantagraph has featured Skibo’s book “Ants for Breakfast,” about his time living with modern-day headhunters and his studies of ancient cultures at Grand Island Archaeological Project in Michigan.

Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at 309-820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com. Share stories and read past outdoor and fishing columns at www.pantagraph.com/blogs.

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