Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Deer rankings elude Illinois

Springfield – A national report on the status of states’ deer
herds reveals that Illinois does not rank among the best in the
Midwest.

It didn’t even make the top 5.

Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin fill out the
top spots in the 2010 whitetail report by the Quality Deer
Management Association.

The annual report analyzes a number of areas concerning deer
herds in each state and is compiled and written by Kip Adams, Joe
Hamilton and Matt Ross, each biologists with QDMA, a non-profit
wildlife conservation organization based in Georgia. QDMA has four
Illinois branches, located in Murphysboro, Normal, East Peoria and
North Henderson.

QDMA’s rating system is admittedly arbitrary, the authors point
out. The system, based on 2008 data, used four variables:
percentage of a state’s wildlife management units corresponding to
its desired deer goals, percentage of 2008 antlered buck harvest
that was 1.5 years old, percentage of 2008 antlered buck harvest
that was 3.5 years or older and percentage of 2008 total harvest
that was antlerless deer.

According to the report, the Midwest harvested 1,047,153
antlered bucks in 2008, an 8 percent decline from 2007. Many
states, including Illinois, had a tough 2008, as seven of 13 (54
percent) shot fewer antlered bucks than in 2007. The average
decrease was 11 percent, and it ranged from a 5 percent decline in
Iowa to a 19 percent decline in Wisconsin.

Illinois shot 12 percent fewer bucks in 2008 compared to
2007.

In its report, QDMA selected the top five states for each of the
four variables and awarded points as follows: 5 points for first
place, 4 points for second place, 3 points for third place, 2
points for fourth place, and 1 point for fifth place. A perfect
score would be 20 points.

In the Midwest, Kansas claimed the top spot with 15 points,
followed by Missouri (10), Indiana (5.5), Nebraska (5) and
Wisconsin (5).

The authors made a point out of Indiana’s performance.

“In discussions about the ‘I’ states, Indiana often takes a back
seat to neighboring Illinois and Iowa, but the Hoosier state
outranked them in our analysis,” they noted.

Kansas finished first in three of four categories, and Missouri
was one of only two states, in any region, to place in the top five
for every category.

Illinois was able to score a point for the percentage of
antlered bucks 1.5 years old. The state was also given credit for
having an antlerless harvest in 2008 that was within 5 percent of
its 2007 harvest.

But the state likely lost points due to lack of information on
aging of deer. The switch to online and phone reporting of deer
harvests replaced check-in stations, making it difficult to get a
handle on the age of the state’s deer. Illinois was unable to
report harvest totals for some categories in the report. The
authors noted that other states have also moved away from check
stations.

Across the Midwest, the sex ratio and age structure of deer
populations and harvests are far better than those of a decade or
two ago, the QDMA reported.

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