Deer chasers hit final stretch
Springfield — With less than a month to go in the season, deer hunters appear to be closing in on last year’s harvest total.
But it’ll take a little extra effort from bowhunters – including those newbie crossbow users – to pull it off.
Late-winter seasons have helped boost harvests in recent years, providing seven additional hunting days. But 10 fewer counties are being allowed to participate in this year’s hunt, which runs Dec. 27-30 and Jan. 18-20.
The special CWD season will be held the same weekend in select counties.
Archery season also wraps up Jan. 20. As of Dec. 19, bowhunters had taken 53,444 deer. The total for all of last archery season was 61,872.
It’s too early to determine if the new crossbow season that opened Dec. 3 is having any effect on the archery harvest. The total is expected to be very close to the 2011-12 mark.
One interesting statistic from the current archery season is the fact that hunters, to this point, have taken more bucks than does. As of the Dec. 19 count, 27,413 of the deer taken were male, while 26,031 were female.
In the 2011-12 archery season, 31,189 of the deer taken were female, while 30,683 were male. There is a chance the buck-to-doe ratio could even out if bowhunters begin shooting more bucks.
Meanwhile, the December muzzleloader-only season experienced a drop in harvest. Cold and rainy conditions met hunters through most of the weekend.
According to DNR, a total of 3,535 deer were taken by muzzleloader, a drastic drop from last year’s total of 4,878. The harvest was higher that the 2010 total of 3,276. The top five counties this year were Pike (206), Fulton (110), JoDaviess (96), Hancock (90) and Adams (85).
DNR reports that the harvest sex ratios were 54.5 percent does to 45.5 percent bucks.
Firearms hunters killed 99,324 deer during the two weekends this fall, about 2,500 more than last year.