Illinois Firearm Deer Season Underway

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The 2008 Illinois Firearm Deer Season, the state's most popular hunting season, began last week with hunters in the field Friday through Sunday, Nov. 21-23, followed by four days of hunting on Dec. 4-7. Nearly 350,000 permits have been issued to hunters for the firearm season.

"As hunters take to the field this week, we hope for a successful harvest and encourage hunters to make safety a priority," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood. "Hunters need to take extra care, especially with firearm and tree-stand safety."

Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 117,425 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season in 2007 and 114,835 deer during the 2006 firearm season.

The legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Hunters successful in taking a deer during the firearm season in most counties must register – or “check in” – the deer they harvest by going online at or by phoning 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). Hunters using the online or phone-in system must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer. It is recommended that hunters using cellular phones to register their harvest wait until they are out of the field and have a clear cell phone signal before attempting to make the harvest report phone call.

Hunters in nine northern Illinois counties where IDNR is conducting chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling must take deer they harvest to a deer check station by 8 p.m. on the day they take the deer. The check stations in counties where CWD sampling is provided are listed below:

  • * Boone County – Boone County Fairgrounds, half-mile north of Rt. 76 and Business Rt. 20, Belvidere
  • * DeKalb County – Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona
  • * Grundy County – Gebhard Woods State Park, 401 Ottawa St., Morris
  • * Kane County – Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona
  • * LaSalle County – Buffalo Rock State Park, 3 miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Rd., 1300 N. 27th Rd, Ottawa
  • * McHenry County – Moraine Hills State Park McHenry Dam Day Use Area, east of McHenry on River Road (2.2 miles south of Ill. Rt. 120)
  • * Ogle County – Nov. 21-23 at Castle Rock State Park, 1365 W. Castle Rd., Oregon; Dec. 4-7 at Lowden State Park, 1411 N. River Rd., Oregon
  • * Stephenson County – County Fairgrounds, Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Rd., Freeport
  • * Winnebago County – Rockford Speedway, Hwy 173 at Forest Hills Rd., Rockford

Hunters who participate in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer through the IDNR web site at Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR.

While not believed to be contagious to humans or livestock, chronic wasting disease is known to spread from animal to animal among deer and elk. The disease affects the brain of the infected animal, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die. Illinois expanded its CWD surveillance effort in 2002 following the discovery of the disease in neighboring Wisconsin.