SPRINGFIELD, IL – Firearm deer hunters in Illinois took a preliminary total of 74,191 deer during the seven-day firearm deer season on Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced today. This year’s preliminary firearm season harvest total compares with the 99,546 deer taken during the 2012 firearm season.
The preliminary second-season (Dec. 5-8) harvest total was 18,483, compared with the 27,213 deer taken by hunters during the second segment of the season last year. This year’s preliminary first-season (Nov. 22-24) deer harvest was 55,708, compared with a first-season harvest of 72,111 in 2012. The preliminary harvest totals include deer taken in all counties in which firearm deer hunting is permitted, as well as at Chain O’Lakes State Park in Lake County.
During the second segment of the firearm season (Dec. 5-8), opening day saw falling temperatures and gusty winds throughout the state, and southern Illinois saw rain/freezing rain turning to snow that continued through Friday with substantial accumulations. Frigid temperatures persisted Friday and Saturday, with single-digit lows throughout the state on Saturday and highs that reached 20 degrees only in the south. Temperatures increased slightly on Sunday, with snow falling through much of the day in northern Illinois. Windy conditions prevailed throughout much of the season.
“Clearly this year’s preliminary firearm harvest numbers are below previous seasons, and while bad weather conditions throughout the state played a role, it cannot be the only factor. Once all deer seasons are complete, our biologists will evaluate deer management goals on a county-by-county basis to achieve stability in our deer herd,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.
Beginning in 2008, the IDNR adopted deer herd management goals based on recommendations of the General Assembly's Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control. Those recommendations called for a 14 percent reduction statewide (from peak levels) in the rate of automobile accidents with deer. Many counties have met their goal, and other counties are close to meeting this directive.
The reduction in county deer populations, combined in some instances with localized effects of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreaks in the deer herd and less than optimal hunting conditions, have resulted in a lower firearm deer harvest than in previous years. In the coming months, IDNR biologists will examine available data for each county, including hunter surveys and comments received during open house forums this past spring to determine where adjustments in deer management will be made for the coming year.
Continuing and upcoming deer hunting opportunities in Illinois include:
• The Archery Deer Season, continuing through Jan. 19, 2014;
• The three-day Illinois Muzzleloader-only Deer Season is this week, on Dec. 13-15, 2013;
• The seven-day split Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season are Dec. 26-29, 2013 and Jan. 17-19, 2014.
For detailed information on the Late-Winter and CWD deer seasons, including information sheets listing open counties and permit limits, check the IDNR website at this link: www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer
. Note that Greene County was closed to the Late-Winter Season this year.
The counties with the highest preliminary harvest totals for deer taken during the seven-day firearm season were Pike (2,269), Jackson (1,931), Fulton (1,886), Jo Daviess (1,870), Randolph (1,786), and Adams (1,783).
A table with preliminary county harvest totals for the first and second portions of the 2013 firearm deer season can be found at this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/2013prelimfirearmdeertotals.pdf