Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Firearms harvest is down, but is it because hunters are choosing to fill fewer permits?

Keri ButtA "Hail Mary" was my first thought as I read the preliminary harvest totals for the first firearm season of 2014.  I've thought for a long time that when it comes to our deer in Illinois, we're quickly reaching a point in which "Divine Intervention" will be the only way to put us back on the right path.

Recently, at a public meeting with the DNR, I asked if the continuous decline in hunter harvest reflected a decrease in the overall deer population and vice versa. We were told that harvest data really isn't a good indicator of statewide population.  Oddly enough, it was also stated that neither was the decline in deer-vehicle accident totals.

It was also noted that the 30,000-plus drop in harvest numbers between 2012 and 2013 really wasn't that alarming, considering the data was based on statewide totals spanning all seasons.  

So, I'm guessing DNR didn't bat one eyelash at the fact that this year's preliminary first season harvest is down over 20,000 from the first season totals in 2012. Interestingly, during the five or so years prior to 2012, first season firearm totals were fairly comparable on any given year.

This raises questions:  Is the decline because tags are going unfilled? Or, is it from a deficit of permits purchased in the first place?

I detest the comment I'm about to make, and the contradiction doesn't escape me. But, if in fact the harvest decrease is in direct correlation with an over-abundance of unpurchased permits compared to previous years, then I have one thing to say: Now we're getting somewhere. 

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