Illinois Deer Season Dates Set

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced deer hunting season dates and a series of regulations changes for the upcoming 2009-2010 seasons that were recommended by hunters, landowners, and other members of the state's Joint Deer Population Task Force.

"Our deer season plans and the implementation of changes in deer regulations should enhance deer hunting opportunities and improve deer management in Illinois," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "The regulations were developed with extensive input from deer hunters and hunting organizations, landowners, wildlife management professionals, the deer task force, and other citizens interested in our state’s deer herd."

The seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season will be Nov. 20 - 22, 2009 and Dec. 3 - 6, 2009, while the Muzzleloader-only season will be Dec. 11 - 13, 2009. The Youth Deer Hunting Season will be Oct. 10 – 11, 2009, and permits for the youth hunt will be available over the counter through DNR Direct license and permit agents.

The Late-Winter Deer Antlerless Only Hunting Season will be expanded to a seven-day season on Dec. 31, 2009 - Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15 - 17, 2010. Permits for the Late-Winter season will be issued in two categories, based on deer management needs in individual counties. In select counties with a need for significant increases in deer harvest, hunters will be able to purchase Late-Winter permits without limit. In other counties, hunters will be limited to purchasing one Late-Winter deer permit. Permits will also be sold over the counter for the first time. As in the past, unused permits from the Firearm, Muzzleloader, and Youth seasons can be used during the Late-Winter season only if the unused permit is from a participating Late-Winter season county. Only antlerless deer may be taken with any valid unused permit.

The Special CWD Deer Hunting Season in select northern Illinois counties will also be expanded to a seven-day season on the same dates as the expanded Late-Winter season.

The Illinois Archery Deer Hunting Season will be Oct. 1, 2009 – Jan. 17, 2010. The archery season is being extended by three days to close on the same date as the Late-Winter and Special CWD seasons.

The IDNR will also expand the availability of deer hunting permits. Unsold Firearm and Muzzleloader-only deer permits will be made available over the counter through DNR Direct license and permit agents.

In the last several months, the IDNR reviewed originally proposed changes and sought additional input from hunting groups. As a result, the Late-Winter season was altered to an earlier split season.

"We hope all hunters find these changes to be in their benefit during the coming seasons. The agency will continue to make a concerted effort to balance science based decision making with input and perspective from our constituents," added Miller. "Constituent input and involvement are critical to the success of this agency and its programs. By re-energizing the Natural Resources Advisory Board and building a component for constituent input, the public will have a greater opportunity to have their voices heard."

Deer seasons and regulations have changed a lot in recent years. How does deer hunting in Illinois stack up when compared with just 10 years ago?

During the 1999 Illinois deer seasons, hunters harvested 136,534 deer. At that time, those results ranked second only to the then-record harvest in the 1995 season. The harvest of does comprised 42 percent of the total harvest with bucks at 58 percent. In 1999, yearling bucks made up about 54 percent of the antlered-buck harvest, with older bucks making up the remaining 46 percent. That was considered good, particularly when compared with other states.

What about today? During the 2008 season, hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 188,425 deer, an increase of more than 51,000 deer and a boost of 38 percent compared with 1999. Buck-to-doe ratios in the harvest last year were very balanced with about 50 percent of each. Although IDNR has not yet completed analysis of the buck age structure for 2008, it has hovered at about 40 percent yearlings/60 percent older bucks during each of the last three years. That is a significant improvement over years past.

The changes in Illinois deer regulations are detailed in amendments to state administrative rules, which will be posted for a 45-day public comment period on May 8. To review the amendments to 17 Ill. Adm. Code 650, 660, 670, 675, 680, and 685, go the IDNR web site and click on the Administrative Rules link on the home page at http://dnr.state.il.us.

For more details and perspective on the regulations please visit the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us