Firearm Deer Harvest Among Best Ever

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Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 114,209 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 1-4, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold announced today. The preliminary harvest total compares with the record-setting harvest total of 116,675 deer taken during the firearm season last year.

The preliminary second-season (Dec. 1-4) harvest total was 37,158, compared with the second-season harvest of 42,856 in 2004. This year’s preliminary first-season (Nov. 18-20) deer harvest was 77,051 compared with a first-season harvest of 73,819 in 2004. The figures include deer harvested in the 98 counties in which firearm hunting is permitted and deer harvested on state sites where special permits are issued.

“We are very pleased with the results of the firearm deer hunting season in Illinois this year and congratulate those hunters who were successful in taking a deer,” Brunsvold said. “We appreciate the support of hunters in our deer management effort.”

Preliminary harvest reports for the 2005 firearm season show that Pike County led the state with a total harvest of 3,737.

“Rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow and high winds in much of Illinois during the second weekend of firearm season may have been factors in harvest being down compared with last year, but the total harvest is still among the best ever in Illinois,”said Paul Shelton, manager of the IDNR Forest Wildlife Program. “Illinois has a healthy, quality deer herd and the harvest figures tell us hunters took advantage of some good deer hunting opportunity.”

Deer hunters is most downstate counties registered their harvest through the new DNR Direct harvest reporting system by going online or phoning a toll-free number to report their harvest.

“The new harvest reporting system has worked very well throughout the archery season and firearm hunters found it convenient to use, too,” Shelton said. Hunters in seven northern Illinois counties registered their deer at county check stations where IDNR staff provided chronic wasting disease sampling for those hunters interested in voluntarily participating in the CWD surveillance program.

Illinois’ muzzleloader-only deer hunt is Dec. 9-11, while the Late Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season in 51 counties is Jan. 13-15, 2006. Permits were issued previously for these seasons. Resident landowners with unfilled “Property-only Hunting” landowner/tenant permits for the firearm season may use those permits to take antlerless deer on their property during the Late Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season if the property is located in one of the 51 counties open for the late winter season. Other unfilled firearm season permits will not be valid for the Late Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season.

Hunters may apply through Friday, Dec. 9 for permits for the 2006 CWD Antlerless-only Deer Season in Boone, McHenry and Winnebago counties and that portion of DeKalb County north of Interstate 88 (East-West Tollway) scheduled for Jan. 13-15, 2006. This special season will assist in the IDNR effort to control the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in the four-county region. Permits are $5 each and applications are available on the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us. Hunters may also use an unfilled 2005 firearm or muzzleloader-only permit valid for Boone, McHenry, Winnebago or DeKalb counties or an unfilled 2005 archery deer permit to participate in this special season.

The statewide archery deer hunting season continues through Jan. 12, 2006.