Firearm Deer Season Harvest Record

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Hunters in Illinois harvested a record 103,961 deer during the 2003 firearm deer season, Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold announced today. That preliminary harvest total for 2003 compares with a harvest total of 102,823 deer taken during the 2002 firearm season, and eclipses the record harvest set in 1995.

The preliminary second-season (Dec. 4-7) harvest total of 39,780 compared to the second-season harvest of 34,902 in 2002. This year’s preliminary first-season (Nov. 21-23) deer harvest was 64,181 compared with a first-season harvest of 67,921 in 2002. The figures do not include deer harvested during hunts on state sites where special permits are issued.

We are very pleased with the results of the firearm deer hunting season. It was a very safe one with very few accidents reported during first season and none reported during second season,” Director Brunsvold said.. “A lot of hunters were excited about the new regulation allowing the use of handguns during the firearm season. Thousands of hunters voluntarily participated in our chronic wasting disease surveillance effort, allowing our biologists to collect samples from deer at check stations. The cooperation of hunters in battling CWD is so important and our hunters in Illinois came through once again.”

More than 4,000 tissue samples were collected from hunter-harvested deer at check stations in 36 counties during the firearm season. The samples are being tested for the presence of CWD, a fatal neurological disease that can affect deer and elk but is not contagious to humans or livestock. CWD cases thus far have been found only in three counties in northern Illinois (Boone, McHenry and Winnebago).

Preliminary check station harvest reports for the 2003 firearm season show that Pike County led the state with a total harvest of 4,043, while Adams County was second with 2,951.

“The preliminary harvest figures would rank this firearm season as the highest on record, surpassing the total of 103,142 taken during 1995,” said IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton. “After unseasonably warm weather for the first weekend of firearm deer hunting, colder weather with rain, snow and fog were reported in much of the state during the final four days of the season. While harvest did not meet expectations during the first season, hunters appeared to do well with the more typical late autumn weather this past weekend.”

Approximately 288,000 firearm permits were issued to deer hunters in Illinois this year.

The muzzleloader-only deer hunt in Illinois is Dec. 12-14, while the handgun-only deer hunt in selected Illinois counties is Jan. 16-18, 2004. The statewide archery deer hunting season resumed Dec. 8 and continues through Jan. 15.