The Illinois Daily Usage Stamps

Daily Usage Fees Increased


The large numbers of waterfowl in the mid-1950s prompted the IDOC to open more acreage to public hunting. Many improvements were made to the hunting areas, including the construction of additional blinds and pits, so that more hunters could be accommodated. These efforts on the part of the IDOC enabled a record number of sportsmen to use the public waterfowl hunting areas in 1958 (see Table I).

In 1959 the IDOC raised the daily “usage fees charged to hunters on the; duck and pheasant areas to $3.00 and: $5.00, respectively. In addition, hunters at the Horseshoe Lake and Union County Refuges were now charged the same fee as hunters at the pheasant areas (Vanderford, 1973). The fee increases were undoubtedly needed to help offset the cost of running the expanding public hunting program in Illinois. The new fees remained in effect through 1978 (Musser, 1994).

For comparison, the daily fee charged at the waterfowl management areas in California was raised from $2.00 to $3.50 in 1964 and then to $5.00 in 1977 (Waterfowl Management Area Regulations, 1964; Regulations For Hunting on State and Federal Areas, 1977). The $3.00 daily usage stamps from 1959 have the insignia printed in green ink on manila paper and measure 32 x 39 mm. The $5.00 stamps have the insignia printed in red-brown ink on light blue-green paper and also measure 32 x 39 mm (see Figures 2 and 23).



Figure 23. For 1959, the duck daily usage fee was raised to $3.00.



In the late 1950s and early 1960s, duck populations in Illinois were adversely affected by a decrease in production resulting from an extended drought on the northern Great Plains. Hardest hit was the mallard population. By 1961 it was reduced to only 25 percent of the record high achieved in 1955. The duck hunting season was subsequently shortened to 30 days and the daily limit set at two birds. According to the 1961 Annual Report, “This regulation decreased by about one-third the number of hunters using duck areas and decreased the kill by two-thirds.”

In 1962 the season was shortened once again (to 25 days) and there was a limit of one mallard included in the bag limit of two ducks. In 1963 the peak number for all waterfowl in Illinois was 1,126,000. This number was less than half that recorded ten years earlier (2,484,000). The Rice Lake Public Hunting Area was not operated in 1963 due to low water levels (1962 Annual Report; 1963 Annual Report).

Waterfowl numbers remained low until the latter part of the 1960s. In 1969 waterfowl peaked at 1,920,000 — the highest number recorded in 11 years. According to an excerpt from the 1969 Annual Report, “In some areas the mallard populations were the highest in history.” Canada goose numbers fluctuated during the decade, but also ended on an upward note, topping 280,000 in 1969. The daily usage stamps were in use throughout the 1960s, at the public waterfowl hunting areas listed in Tables I and II and also at several pheasant areas (see Figure 24).



Figure 24. While waterfowl numbers were down during the 1960s, many daily usage stamps were still utilized at pheasant hunting areas such as Shelbyville.



In 1970 the Division of Game Management was superseded by the Division of Wildlife Resources. The 1970 Annual Report stated, “The Division of Wildlife Resources is responsible for the management of the state’s wildlife resources at the field level, so that shootable surpluses may be produced and hunting as a form of recreation perpetuated, wildlife populations maintained for aesthetic and non-consumptive uses, and our lands are kept at their best productive capacity.”

Daily usage stamps were not used at public duck hunting areas in 1970 or 1971. There were two reasons for this. First, the Division of Wildlife Resources selected Rice Lake to participate in its “Lake Rehabilitation Program.” During 1970 and 1971 the lake was completely drained and 890 acres of it were a seeded to Japanese millet. Duck hunting was allowed both years on a no fee basis, with approximately 100 hunters per day selected by a public drawing.

Second, the Sanganois Public Hunting Area was changed from a daily permit basis to a staked blind site basis in 1970. A similar change was made for the Sparland and Woodford County Areas ten years earlier. For such areas a public drawing is held prior to the start of the season. Hunters selected are allowed to shoot from the blind site drawn the entire season. The hunters are responsible for blind construction and upkeep, including litter prevention, avoiding pollution, etc. (1970 Annual Report; 1971 Annual report; 1973 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Information).

In 1970 the $3.00 stamps were printed but not used. The insignia is printed in green ink on manila paper and the stamps measure 33 x 37 mm (see Figure 25). No $3.00 stamps were printed for 1971. In 1970 and 1971 the $5.00 stamps were used at the goose and pheasant hunting areas (see Figure 26).



Figure 25. The $3.00 duck stamp for 1970 was printed but never used.



Figure 26. In 1970 and 1971 $5.00 daily usage stamps were used at goose and pheasant hunting areas.



For many years it was widely believed that daily usage stamps were not printed for 1972. This belief resulted from erroneous information provided to collectors E. L. Vanderford and Charles H. Hermann by the IDOC License and Permit Section. As previously stated, the stamps affixed to hunters’ permits were collected during the checkout procedure. In addition, the IDOC would not sell unused stamps to collectors. However, collectors who requested examples of obsolete stamps were often given them free of charge.

The author has spoken to several longtime collectors who received such complimentary stamps. Some were used, with no gum or staple holes. Most were unused. Occasionally the latter were attached to an accompanying letter by a paper clip. The majority of collectors received both values from 1958 through 1970 and the $5.00 stamp from 1971. A few received the 1953, 1956, 1957 and 1972 stamps (Hubbard, 1990; Beals, 1991; Miles, 1991, Vanderford, 1991; and Gibbs, 1994). This is one of two ways in which majority of Illinois Daily Usage Stamps have ended up in the hands of collectors. The IDOC stopped giving obsolete stamps away in the early 1970s.

In December of 1974, Vanderford wrote to the License and Permit Section requesting copies of the daily usage stamps used in 1972 and 1973. Hal Davis, the License and Permit Section Supervisor, wrote back to Vanderford and informed him that stamps were no longer issued and that they had been replaced by tickets (see Figure 27).



Figure 27. Letter from Hal Davis informing E. L. Vanderford that the stamps were replaced by tickets as of 1972.



Vanderford then wrote back to Davis, requesting verification of this fact in the form of tickets from 1972 and 1973 (see Figure 28). Davis could not locate a ticket from 1972 but did provide Vanderford with a photocopy of a ticket used in 1973 (shown in Figure 29). At this time Vanderford was in close contact with Hermann. He asked Hermann to write to the IDOC License Section in order to double-check whether or not stamps were used in 1972. Hermann received the following reply: “We are sorry but the issuance of these stamps was discontinued in 1972, all previous year’s stamps were destroyed…” (Vanderford, 1985).



Figure 28. Letter from E. L. Vanderford to Hal Davis, asking for verification of the fact that stamps were discontinued in 1972.



Figure 29. Photocopy of the daily usage tickets used from 1973 through 1976.



As Hermann was provided with the same information, Vanderford assumed it to be correct. Therefore, in his Checklist of State and Locally Issued Migratory Waterfowl Hunting License Stamps, published in 1977, Vanderford stated, “Daily usage duck stamps were discontinued after 1970 and the goose-pheasant stamps were discontinued after 1971.”

Fortunately, a few 1972 daily usage stamps had been included in groups of stamps given to other collectors. Vanderford learned of this following the publication of his checklist. He was then able to persuade a sympathetic License Section employee to locate one of each of the 1972 stamps for him (see Figure 30). As all daily usage stamp remainders are believed to have been destroyed by this time, it is possible that the 1972 stamps given to Vanderford were retrieved from the IDOC Archives.



Figure 30. The last of the “old style” Daily Usage stamps were issued in 1972.



The 1972 stamps are unusual in that both values have the insignia printed in orange ink on light blue-green paper. All other daily usage stamps issued through 1972 were printed on two colors of paper, presumably to avoid confusion. The $3.00 stamps measure 31 x 39 mm and the $5.00 stamps measure 31 x 37 mm. Less than five examples of the $2.00 stamp and less than ten examples of the $5.00 stamp have been recorded. In 2012 Bob Dumaine bought an unused block of four of the $5.00 stamp, which he resold to Will and Abby Csaplar (see Figure 31). 



Figure 31. Unused block of the $5.00 stamps in the Csaplar collection.



Most of the old style daily usage stamps in collections today can be traced back to E. L. Vanderford. He acquired them in a roundabout way. In the early 1970s Vanderford managed an auto parts warehouse in Sacramento. For a two to three week period he employed a carpenter to build and install some shelves, bins and racks. In a conversation one day, Vanderford learned that the carpenter’s uncle was a game warden in Illinois — with a close friend in the License and Permit Section. Through his uncle, the carpenter was able to obtain for Vanderford several large blocks of all the daily usage stamps used from 1959 through 1969.

Vanderford recalls that he received about 20 of each of the stamps from the carpenter. As he received many stamps with the selvage intact (see Figure 14), it is possible that the warden broke up complete panes of the stamps to send to his nephew. If this occurred, Vanderford would have received 25 copies of each stamp. He soon broke up the blocks and traded the stamps among his collector friends (Vanderford 1991, 1994). This explains why most of the stamps in collections today have serial numbers within 25 of each other. For descriptions of daily usage stamps from specific years (1951 through 1972), see Table III.


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