Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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IL: Firearms deer hunters meet DNR expectations

Springfield – Luke Michael Tilly may eventually discover the deer hunting depression that goes with setting the bar extraordinarily high at such an early age.

Translation: At 12, Tilly may never again kill a buck like his first.

But why should he care?

The 10-pointer Tilly took in Peoria County on Nov. 18, the opening day of firearms season, was gross-scored at 188 inches and is expected to net around 183 or 184.

Tilly's buck is being heralded as one of the best taken during the opening weekend, which recorded a total of 66,501 deer killed. That total was down from the first weekend harvest of 68,037 deer during the 2010 season but a slight increase over the 66,126 taken during the opening weekend in 2009.

According to DNR, 61 percent of the deer taken during the first weekend of firearms hunting were male, compared with the 60 percent to 40 percent male to female ratio during the first weekend of the firearms season in 2010.

The top counties during the 2011 first weekend were Pike (1,917), Adams (1,784), Fulton (1,775), Jo Daviess (1,664) and Jefferson (1,496) counties.

DNR officials put the first weekend harvest at "about right where it should be."

"Corn harvest was pretty much complete throughout the state except for some parts of northern Illinois," DNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton said. "Although windy weather on opening day presented a little bit of a challenge to hunters, this was fairly typical fall weather."

Shelton noted that biologists working at northern Illinois check stations saw a number of very nice deer being registered.

"We seem to be right on target as far as projected [total] harvest," Shelton added.

During last year's two weekends [seven days] of firearms hunting, hunters took a total of 98,944 deer.

DNR issued more than 330,000 firearms deer hunting permits for the 2011 season. That number is likely to push the typical 350,000 after remaining firearms permits are distributed for the second weekend.

At least one fatality was reported during the first weekend. A 44-year-old man was fatally shot in an accident that also resulted in an injury to his 15-year-old son (see Page 3). There were also a half-dozen reports of hunters being injured in treestand falls.

DNR Conservation Police Officers issued 547 citations for wildlife code violations and 630 written warnings throughout the state during the weekend.

Again this year, hunters in Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kane, LaSalle, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties were required to take their deer to county check stations to allow DNR to register the deer and conduct sampling for chronic wasting disease.

Hunters in other counties were allowed to check their deer online or by phone.

The second firearms deer season is Dec. 1-4. The muzzleloader-only deer season is Dec. 9-11. The split late-winter, antlerless-only firearms deer season and the special CWD seasons are Dec. 29, -Jan. 1, 2012, and Jan. 13-15, 2012.

The archery season continues through Jan. 15, 2012. Bowhunters had taken 45,069 deer as of Nov. 13, just behind the 45,268 taken during the same period last year.

Shelton pointed out that increased rutting activity strongly influenced harvest sex ratios, with bucks comprising 65 percent of the harvest during the second week of November.

Sharpshooting news

A sharpshooting program in the Winnebago County forest preserves may be temporarily shut down.

Forest Preserve Board Chairman Randy Olson said he heard concerns from several hunters during a meeting with the Plug & Pellet Sportsman's Club about the amount the population has been reduced since the forest preserve began its sharpshooting program in 2003.

The Forest Preserve District has a permit from DNR to take 50 deer this winter as part of its deer population control program.

The district is waiting to hear from the Forest Preserve Board, which will discuss the issue at a Dec. 6 meeting.

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