First deer legally harvested by a hunter in Chicago during modern time

Jose Guzman set up his portable tree stand before dawn Sunday 25 feet off the ground, then hunted into Chicago history at William Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

At 7 a.m., Guzman used his crossbow to harvest the first deer taken legally by a hunter within the Chicago limits in more than 150 years.

"I was sitting on the edge of the woods and it came up behind me," he said. "She came out with other does and within a minute I had taken my shot."

According to Joel Greenberg in "A Natural History of the Chicago Region," (p. 452), the last deer killed within Chicago city limits [before reintroduction began] was in 1865 by first ward alderman William Cox, according to his son. It was "where `a forest of cottonwoods and oaks contested with a reluctant prairie,’ land that was to become the great stockyards."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources opened the first deer hunting season at William Powers this year. Eight of 37 applicants were awarded a 14-day hunting period. Guzman’s was first, from opening day of archery season on Oct. 1 through Oct. 14.


"Chronic Wasting Disease is now found in Cook County, poaching already is an ongoing nuisance, trespassing and other undesirable activities, 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) and increases the desirable activities that goes on within the park (hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and many other desirable recreational activities), while simultaneously reducing the undesirable activities because there are simply more people out there at all times of the day (from before sunup to after sundown)," emailed Nicky Strahl, hunter heritage and wildlife biologist for the IDNR.

The Sun Times talked with Guzman, who works cybersecurity, before the season opened.

"It is a great honor, but also a great responsibility," he said. "I have to take that animal ethically with minimal amount of impact to the community."

He was aware of the enormity.

"I will only take the shot when it is apparent I have a good shot," he said.

He uses a climbing tree stand he could backpack in, which he can put up in three minutes.

"I know where they are bedding," he said. "This is suburban hunting, so they are used to people and people in the woods. These deer are used to smelling humans. There are houses 50 yards away on either side.

Guzman, a Hickory Hills man who is a member of Bass and Gill Club in Plainfield, started deer hunting about five years ago—"you hear the commotion and catch the fever"—at nearby public sites. Last year, he harvested an 8-pointer.

"It is a great privilege to be allowed in the area, I get to set the tone," he said. "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."

Guzman scouted extensively—"found sign, prints and everything"—and had at least three spots picked ahead of time.

Guzman plans to hunt through his period in hopes of having a chance at a buck, even though he has spotted no bucks while hunting or in preseason scouting.

Those holding the second (late October) and third (early November) permits probably have a better chance of seeing a buck around the time the rut peaks in early November.

Guzman butchered the doe himself, then took tissue samples to Strahl to have the doe tested for CWD before eating the venison.

"The surprising thing is the amount of wildlife in those woods," Guzman said. "There are coyotes in there, raccoons and opossums, lots of wildlife in that little area. There were three other does with that one."