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A really nice beaver: Tracking whether state record

Jef Walczak wondered if the beaver he trapped might be a state record.

I love that kind of question.

Any chance to remember the classic “Nice beaver!”’’ scene between Leslie Nielsen (Lt. Frank Drebin) and Priscilla Presley (Jane Spencer) in “Naked Gun’”’ makes my day.

On the weekend of the big snow in November, Walczak trapped a beaver, which tipped one scale at 85 pounds, out of a slough off the Illinois River near Morris. He kept it frozen to mount, then wondered if it is a record.

Illinois does not keep official records for beavers, according to biologist Bob Bluett, who handles trapping for the Department of Natural Resources.

“In 25-plus years of working for the DNR, I’’ve had two reliable reports of beavers that would edge this one out–a 94-pounder from McHenry County and a 108-pounder from the Mississippi River in northwestern Illinois,”’’ he emailed.

Of the nice beavers I’’ve encountered in the wild, I’’ve never seen anything that size.

The Missouri Department of Conservation does keep furbearer records. Its beaver record is 73 pounds.

Then I wondered how a plasterer (historic restoration) from Evergreen Park came to trapping.

“I met a guy who was talking about trapping,’’” Walczak said. “I hunted and fished all my life. I like taxidermy stuff. At first I was more interested in getting a couple hides tanned. But it is a hobby that pays you back. I get my gas money back.’”’

It’s his first season trapping on water for beaver and muskrat.

“This is the first time I got access [to water],’’” he said. “I pretty much went knocking on doors. I will be working all spring [for the landowner in payment for permission.].”’’

Before the big flood “put the kibosh”’’ on his season, he learned lugging an 85-pound beaver three-quarters of a mile back to his car is hard. After that, he started pulling in a deer sled.

He learns as he goes.

DEER: Harvest during the four-day first late-winter antlerless and special CWD deer seasons, Thursday through Sunday, spiked to 3,939 deer, compared to 2,981 last year, despite five fewer counties.

CLOSURES: If planning hunting or fishing trips to Downstate, better check the extensive list of closures from the flooding at dnr.illinois.gov/closures/pages/CurrentclosuresOfDNRSitesAndAreas.aspx.

STRAY CAST: When it comes to political waters, Gov. Bruce Rauner is a 25-pound common carp flopping in the reeds by shore.