Many hunters in the Illinois Valley said they had trouble finding deer or waiting long enough to harvest one in the frigid weather this past weekend, the first shotgun season.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources statistics statewide back up those statements.
Hunters inIllinoisharvested a preliminary total of 55,708 deer during the opening weekend of the 2013 Illinois Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 22-24, the IDNR reported. The second portion of the firearm season will be Dec. 5-8.
The hunters’ harvest in North Central Illinois was lower than last year in all five area counties.
In La Salle County, hunters killed 887 deer in the first three-day firearm season in 2012 and 588 this year. Bureau Countystatistics dropped off markedly from 1,014 in 2012 to 730 last weekend. A similar proportional change was seen in PutnamCounty (dropping to 278 from 289), Marshall (424 from 597) and Lee counties (565, 385).
The preliminary harvest total of 55,708 for the first three days of the 2013 firearm season compares with the first weekend harvest of 72,111 deer during the 2012 deer season statewide. For the entire seven-day firearm season in 2012, hunters harvested 99,546 deer in Illinois.
Pike County had the most reported deer killed at 1,535.
The preliminary first season figures reported for each county include those deer taken on special hunt areas within that county as well as on private land.
“Weather conditions were difficult throughout most of the season, with some parts of the state seeing rain or snow, and virtually everywhere getting a taste of high winds and frigid temperatures,” said IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton. “Southern Illinoiscounties appear to have been the least impacted."
Approximately 59 percent of the deer taken during the first weekend of firearm hunting were bucks, compared with 60 percent bucks taken during the first weekend of the firearm season in 2012.
The IDNR has issued more than 340,000 firearm deer hunting permits so far for the 2013 season. For information on remaining permits, check the IDNR website at this link: www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.
Remaining firearm deer hunting opportunities in Illinois include the second segment of the firearm season on Dec. 5-8, 2013, the three-day Muzzleloader-only Deer Season on Dec. 13-15, 2013, and the seven-day split Late Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season on Dec. 26-29, 2013 and Jan. 17-19, 2014.