Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Bowhunters start deer season by topping ’07

Sterling, Ill. – Terry Bender started the 2008 “Big Deer” drum
roll at exactly 6:35 p.m. on Oct. 6.

The 18-pointer he downed about a mile from his home in Carroll
County weighed in at 310 pounds before field dressing.

Bender’s success followed an opening week of archery season –
Oct. 1-5 for DNR data purposes – that saw Illinois hunters take
6,229 deer, a far better “kick-off” harvest than in any of the past
three years.

During the first week of the 2007 bow season, hunters took only
2,951 deer. Not coincidentally, last year’s first five days did not
include a weekend, as it did this year.

In 2006, when 4,281 deer were taken in the first five days, the
season started on a Sunday. Back in 2005, Oct. 1 fell on a Saturday
and 4,690 deer were harvest during the first week.

During the first week of 2008, the top five counties were Pike,
333; Peoria, 190; Fulton, 161; LaSalle, 141; and Vermilion, 138.
(For a county-by-county harvest total list, see Page 27).

“We had very cooperative weather during this period, although
crops were just beginning to come out in parts of the state,” Paul
Shelton, wildlife program manager for DNR, said.

Shelton also pointed out that sex ratios for the deer harvested
during the first week of 2008 were reported to be 71.4 percent does
and 28.6 percent bucks.

The high doe ratio is good news for wildlife managers, even
though it’s still early in the game.

“The first part of the season is really important to us from a
management standpoint, so we’re always happy to see it get off to a
good start,” Shelton said. “The early part of the season, we’re
typically looking at real good sex ratios as far as number of
females taken per male. If we do good early, that really gets us
off to a good start from a management perspective.

“Once we start moving into the rut, the sex ratios really swing
back the other way. We have to stockpile some does early, because
once we get into the rut, the sex ratios will swing back over to
the bucks.”

Shelton said over 1,500 deer were harvested on opening day.

“I thought the numbers would be good just because we’ve had
ideal weather conditions for it,” Shelton said. “It’s been nice,
cool mornings and it hasn’t been real windy. Really, the only thing
that could have made it better is we had more crops out
earlier.”

Shelton predicts a normal rut, which is when deer breed.
Whitetails, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious as
they seek mates, making them easier to hunt. Traditionally, the rut
in Illinois occurs during the second and third weeks in
November.

Bender, who claimed he’s seen few does in the area he’s hunted
for a few years, said the giant buck was the only deer he’d seen
that day.

“I’d seen him before on my trail camera,” Bender, 28, said. “He
came out of the woods, started scratching his back with his antlers
and I stuck him at 30 yards.”

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