Springfield — Nearly one-third of all hunters who took to the woods during the 2016 Illinois Youth Deer Hunt were successful, a ratio that is a bit better than the state’s other deer seasons.
Still, this 28.5 percent success rate set last year lends to the strongly-held belief that youth hunters generally set the tone for their adult counterparts.
So all eyes will be on the 2017 Youth Hunt, which is set for Oct. 7-9. Those with a Youth Deer Permit who have not reached their 18th birthday by the first day of the hunt are eligible.
A new record harvest of 3,272 was set last year, besting the previous mark of 3,123 set in 2012. Of course, the 2016 Youth Hunt was a three-day affair, compared to the two-day hunt that was the norm in 2012.
Possibly the best news from last year’s hunt was the number of permits issued – 11,480, up from the 10,699 issued in 2015. Looking back a decade, only 3,654 youth permits were distributed for the 2006 season. While the 2016 season was held in 99 counties – Cook, DuPage and Lake counties were closed — the 2006 season was in only 51 counties and resulted in a harvest of 1,100 deer.
The top harvesting counties in 2016 were Pike (131), Randolph (130), Jackson (98), Jefferson (93) and Adams (89). Youth hunters took 49.8 percent male deer and 50.2 percent female (41.5 percent antlered and 58.5 percent were antlerless.
For the 2017 season, Youth Deer Permits are available over-the-counter at license vendors throughout the state. Hunters may purchase only one permit (either-sex) for one of the open counties. Hunters who are 16 years of age or older must also have a Habitat Stamp.
- All youth hunters must have a current, valid Youth Deer Permit and have a regular hunting license, Youth Hunting License or Apprentice Hunter License, unless exempt. Resident and non-resident youth permits are available over-the-counter from DNR Direct license and permit vendors.
- If using a regular hunting license, participants must have completed an DNR-approved Hunter Education course. Each hunter participating in the Youth Deer Hunt while using an Apprentice Hunter or Youth Hunter license must be accompanied by a non-hunting, validly-licensed (Illinois hunting license) parent, guardian or grandparent who is 21 years of age or older.
- All other hunters participating in the Youth Deer Hunt must each be accompanied by a non-hunting supervisor (parent, guardian or responsible adult) who has a valid Illinois hunting license or who has in his or her possession a valid Firearm Owners Identification card.
- The non-hunting supervisor must wear the orange garments required of gun deer hunters (blaze orange cap and upper garment with a minimum of 400 square inches of solid blaze orange material), and must remain with the hunting youth. Each supervisor may only accompany a single youth at any given time during the hunt.
- Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
- The bag limit is one deer per legally authorized permit.
- All either-sex permits are subject to the following restrictions: no hunter, regardless of the quantity or type of permits in his/her possession, may harvest more than two antlered deer during a year, including the youth, archery, muzzleloader and firearm seasons.
- Successful hunters must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer is taken by calling the toll-free telephone check-in system at 866-ILCHECK or by accessing the online check-in system. They will be provided with a confirmation number to verify that they checked in their harvest. This number must be written by the hunter on the temporary harvest tag (leg tag).
- Unfilled youth permits will also be valid during the first firearm deer season only for private land in the county named on the permit, or for hunting on public land that is open to statewide regulations (no limit on hunter access) in that county during the firearm season. Unfilled youth permits would not be valid during the first firearms deer season on special hunt areas that limit hunter numbers with a quota.
Last season recap
Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 144,150 deer during all 2016-17 seasons. The total preliminary deer harvest for all seasons compares with a total harvest for all seasons of 155,229 in 2015-16.
There were a total of 564,880 deer permits issued for all seasons, resident and non-resident.
During this year’s deer seasons, hunters took 44 percent does and 56 percent males.
A breakdown of Illinois deer hunting seasons is as follows:
- Archery: Archery deer hunters in Illinois took a preliminary total of 53,479 deer during the season which began on Oct. 1, 2016, and concluded on Jan. 15, 2017. That compares with the harvest of 56,767 during the 2015-16 archery season.
- Firearms season: Hunters took a preliminary total of 79,429 deer during the 2016 Illinois Firearms Deer Season on Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 1-4, 2016, compared with 86,847 deer taken during the 2015 firearms season.
- Muzzleloader: Hunters using muzzleloading rifles harvested 3,297 deer during the 2016 Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season on Dec. 9-11, 2016, compared with 2,403 in 2015.
- Late-Winter Seasons: The 2016-17 Late-Winter Antlerless Only and Special CWD deer seasons concluded with a combined preliminary harvest total for both seasons of 4,686 deer, compared with a harvest of 6,362 deer taken during those seasons in 2015-16.