Deer hunters get expanded season

Springfield – Archery hunters will get three additional days and
Illinois’ late-winter season will add an entire weekend under a
plan revealed by DNR.

A boost in over-the-counter permit sales is also part of the
2009-10 season,_DNR Director Marc Miller said. Specifically, unsold
firearm and muzzleloader-only deer permits will be sold
over-the-counter through DNR Direct license and permit agents.

DNR has proposed a $10 hike for resident deer permits – from $15
to $25 – but the increase still is awaiting legislative
approval.

Miller said the new season extensions are a result of an open
ear.

“The regulations were developed with extensive input from deer
hunters and hunting organizations, landowners, wildlife management
professionals, the deer task force, and other citizens interested
in our state’s deer herd,” Miller said.

Included in the upcoming season is an enhanced chronic wasting
disease season in northern Illinois, which will become a seven-day
season after being a three-day season for the past few years.

DNR forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton said that in
order for hunters to make a dent in CWD counties, “there has to be
lower population densities in certain areas.”

“While we have been doing sharpshooting in those areas, hunters
have been saying, ‘Provide us with more opportunities and give us
the tool to help you.’ This is one way to do that,” Shelton
said.

Changes to the seasons are designed to control the deer herd in
counties with high rates of vehicle-deer collisions, as recommended
by the Joint Deer Population Task Force, which met over the summer
of 2008.

“I don’t think we are going see any sudden spike in harvest
numbers as a result of these changes,” Miller pointed out. “I think
we will pretty much maintain the same numbers. But there will be
some small increases in those counties where the population needs
to be thinned.”

Miller said an added late-winter season Dec. 31-Jan. 3 will
allow children home from school for the holidays to accompany
parents on hunts, in turn generating youngsters’ interest in
hunting.

“We can provide opportunities to arrest the declining hunter
numbers,” Miller said. “That’s why some of the rules have been
tailored toward youths.”

Season dates set

DNR released its 2009-10 deer hunting season dates during a
press conference to announce expansions to the season.

The Illinois archery deer season will be Oct. 1 to Jan. 17. DNR
explained that the archery season is being extended by three days
to close on the same date as the late-winter and special CWD
seasons.

The seven-day Illinois firearm deer season will be Nov. 20_-22
and Dec. 3-6, while the muzzleloader-only season will be Dec.
11-13.

The youth deer hunting season will be Oct. 10-11, and permits
for the youth hunt will be available over the counter through DNR
Direct license and permit agents.

The late-winter deer antlerless- only season will be expanded to
a seven-day season, Dec. 31-Jan. 3 and Jan. 15-17.

Permit options expand

According to DNR, permits for the late-winter season will be
issued in two categories, based on deer management needs in
individual counties.

In select counties with a need for significant increases in deer
harvest, hunters will be able to purchase unlimited late-winter
permits. In other counties, hunters will be limited to purchasing
one late-winter deer permit. Permits also will be sold over the
counter for the first time.

Again for the 2009-10 season, unused permits from the firearm,
muzzleloader, and youth seasons can be used during the late-winter
season only if the unused permit is from a participating
late-winter season county.

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