Like to hunt deer in Bureau and Putnam counties?
You’ll have fewer days for it this year for late winter in Bureau County and fewer deer tags available in Putnam County this fall.
Late-winter, antlerless-only deer hunting season will be closed in 2014-15 in Bureau County and Woodford County, the state said.
That announcement comes on the heels of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ determination in February to adjust deer-harvest goals downward in fall 2014 for Bureau and Putnam counties.
On Tuesday, the state announced it is reducing the number of early season, “either-sex permits” in Putnam County from 750 to 650.
So will that be bad for businesses that work with and for deer hunters?
“In the long run, it probably won’t, it probably will be good,” said Scott Saban, part owner of Wyanet Locker, which processes deer for hunters from throughout northern Illinois.
“The deer count’s down,” Saban said. “So if they can do something to build the herd back up, that’s good.”
Saban said he thought this winter the state might close its late-winter seasons statewide.
DNR director Marc Miller on Tuesday announced removal of 20 additional counties from the late-winter deer hunting season and a reduction in the number of firearm permits available in some counties.
“IDNR biologists made recommendations for the coming season following a review of deer hunting harvest numbers, deer-vehicle accident data, a survey of Illinois deer hunters, hemorrhagic disease reports and other factors,” the DNR said.
Herd too thin?
This past season, Bureau, La Salle, Putnam, Marshall, Lee and Woodford counties all had allowed hunting by permit during extra hunting weekends in late winter for antlerless deer, and La Salle County had an extra winter deer season to help thin the herd to perhaps control the spread of chronic wasting.
During those extra days this past winter, hunters bagged 154 deer in Bureau County, 163 in La Salle County, 70 in Putnam County, 97 in Lee County and 87 in Marshall.
“Solid science is the basis of our deer program,” Miller said. “These changes reflect our commitment to professional management of the state’s deer population to provide recreational opportunity while being mindful of public safety and the rights of property owners.”
In 2008, the IDNR began using trends in the rate of deer-versus-vehicle accidents as an index of deer population status in each county and adopted a specific objective for each county based on accident rates. Those objectives for each county were set at the point halfway between the lowest and highest rates occurring in that county between 1994 and 2007.
The state will continue to track the numbers of cars and trucks striking deer. If the herd is as large as the DNR biologists desire in Bureau and Putnam counties, they will notice an increase in vehicular accidents involving deer, the NewsTribune reported this winter. If they see an increase in deer gore on the road, they’ll be more likely to increase the number of permits and hunting days.
For example, the state is increasing its “goal” for deer/vehicle collections for Bureau County from 413.5 collisions “per million vehicular traffic miles driven” to 511.8. That’s a 23.8 percent increase, according to the “Revising Illinois Deer Management Objectives.”
In February, Bureau County sheriff John Thompson told the NewsTribune 49 percent of the crashes in Bureau County last year involved deer, but he did not dispute the DNR’s methodology for tracking the size of the deer herd.
Get ‘em while you can
Statewide, the number of either-sex, early-season deer hunting permits is being reduced by 4,925. Antlerless-only permits are being reduced by 6,375. The 11,300 permits amount to a reduction of about 4.1 percent.
Last year, 277,585 firearm permits were available compared with 266,285 for the upcoming season. Quota reductions begin immediately and will affect the second firearm lottery.