Archery hunters up effort as firearms season nears

Springfield – Weeks before the firearms deer season arrives,
Illinois bowhunters are beginning to see mobility in the state’s
deer herd.

Lower temperatures and increased grain harvests have motivated
deer to change gear.

Proof was in the kill totals through the first 19 days of
archery season, which were well ahead of last year’s pace. Through
the first three weeks, hunters had taken 14,053 deer. During the
same time period last year, hunters had taken 11,322 deer.

Still, the 19-day kill is much lower than in 2006, when a record
16,714 deer were taken over the same time frame.

Some things don’t change: the top three counties so far are Pike
(696), Peoria (386), Fulton (364) Jefferson (305) and Marion
(282).

After a fast start in the first five days of October, there was
a brief lag in the harvest, DNR Wildlife Program Manager Paul
Shelton noted.

“But things picked up by late in the month,” he said.

According to DNR, bowhunters are killing a larger number of does
so far this archery season. The ratio after 19 days was 69.1
percent female to 30.9 percent male.

Bowhunters are expected to up their harvest in the days before
the Nov. 21-23 firearms season.

Illinois venison wanted

Back for another deer season is the Illinois Sportsmen Against
Hunger program, which coordinates donations of deer meat with
processing and distribution to food banks and charitable
organizations.

ISAH has coordinated the donation of more than 467,000 pounds of
venison since it began its efforts in 1989. By organizers’ count,
they have provided more than 1.8 million meals.

On that note, DNR and the Illinois Conservation Foundation are
encouraging hunters to make a tax-deductible $50 contribution
through the ICF to help cover the cost of processing the deer into
ground venison.

Hunters may donate deer to the program without making a money
contribution.

“The $50 donation that we receive from many hunters helps cover
some of the costs of processing the venison,” Greg Legan, executive
director of the ICF, said.

“Thanks to the support of hunters, donors, and participating
meat processors throughout the state, thousands of Illinois
families benefit from the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger
program,” Legan said.

Money donations can be made to the Illinois Conservation
Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, Ill.
62702-1271.

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