Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Deer hunt heats up as rutting closes in

Springfield —  A month into the season, Jessica Haun’s impressive bow kill has created more intrigue than any of the other 13,000 or so deer killed up and down the state.

As is usually the case in such deer, little information has been leaked about the kill – other than a photograph (see page 38) and the fact that Haun, a member of the West

Central Illinois Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, arrowed it on Oct. 10.

Otherwise, the archery season has gotten off to a slightly better start than last year. As of Oct. 23, bowhunters had harvested 13,274 deer, about 1,000 deer ahead of last year’s pace.

According to DNR, this year’s harvest has consisted of 67.5 percent does and 32.5 percent bucks.

The top five counties as of Oct. 23 are Pike (459), Fulton (415), Jefferson (353), Jo Daviess (270), and Williamson (267).

Hunters have enjoyed favorable weather, but the state’s corn harvest is lagging. As of Oct. 20, the statewide corn harvest was 43 percent complete, compared to the 5-year average of 63 percent. 

Youth hunt lower

The Illinois Youth Deer Season, held Oct. 11-13, resulted in a harvest of 2,761 deer, down a bit from last year’s total 3,007.

Youth hunters took 46 percent does and 54 percent bucks. The top five counties were Pike (152), Randolph (81), Fulton (80), Jefferson (69), and Adams (67). 

Looking to firearms season

Shotgun hunters will hit the woods Nov. 21-23 with hopes of pulling out of a free-fall that bottomed last year with a harvest of only 74,318 deer. The gun season has seen a steady decline since the record year of 2005, when 123,792 deer were taken.

Last year’s sex ratio was 55.8 percent bucks and 44.2 percent does. The top five counties were Pike (2,270), Jackson (1,932) Fulton (1,894), Jo Daviess (1,887), and Randolph (1,787).

DNR’s changes will affect the firearms season somewhat, as the number of firearm permits has been reduced in some counties. Statewide, the number of either-sex permits is being reduced by 4,925.

Antlerless-only permits are being reduced by 6,375. The 11,300 permits amount to a reduction of about 4.1 percent. Last year, 277,585 firearm permits were available, compared with 266,285 for this season.

A letter from DNR to hunters in CWD counties dated Oct. 7 invited hunters to an informational meeting. The letter, signed by Doug Dufford, wildlife disease and invasive wildlife program manager for DNR, also asks hunters to help DNR by harvesting deer, especially does.

“I also encourage that every effort be made to have adult deer tested for CWD,” Dufford wrote. “Deer provided for sampling by hunters will reduce the number of deer that DNR staff will attempt to collect after the hunting seasons end.”

The last line suggests that DNR is hoping hunters will provide enough deer for sampling – thus requiring the agency to take fewer deer through its culling programs.

As for the informational meeting, it was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 at the Prairie View Golf Club in Byron.

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