DNR reports deer season numbers

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, IDNR, reports that hunters in the state harvested a preliminary total of 66,126 deer during the opening weekend of the 2009 firearm deer season, which was Nov. 20-22. 

The second portion of the firearm season will be Dec. 3-6.

The preliminary total for the first three days of the 2009 firearm season compares with the first weekend harvest of 71,894 deer during the 2008 deer season. 

The top county harvest total last weekend was in Pike with 2,012 deer, followed by Fulton (1,725), Adams (1,614), Jefferson (1,606), and Randolph (1,576). 

First weekend harvest numbers were down in Union County when compared to last year's numbers.

Hunters in Union County killed 1,168 deer during the first weekend of the 2009 firearm season, preliminary numbers from IDNR showed. That compares to 1,323 harvested in 2008.

Preliminary first weekend numbers for other area counties included:

Alexander: 328, down from 335 last year.

Jackson: 1,416, down from 1,612 last year.

Johnson: 1,304, down from 1,385 last year.

Massac: 425, up from 369 last year.

Pulaski: 471, down from 533 last year.

Williamson: 1,101, down from 1,176 last year.

For the entire seven-day firearm season in 2008, hunters harvested 106,018 deer. 

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.

“Standing corn was a significant factor affecting hunter success for the first weekend of firearm deer hunting this year,” said IDNR forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton. 

“The wet weather this fall has delayed corn harvest in many locations, and that makes it tougher for hunters to find deer. 

"Only 60 percent of corn had been harvested statewide during the gun season, while the five-year average is 98 percent harvested at that time. 

"The good news is that there is still a lot of deer hunting left, so loads of opportunities remain for Illinois hunters.”

IDNR has issued more than 360,000 firearm deer hunting permits for the 2009 season. 

Most hunters register their deer harvest online through the IDNR web site or by phoning 1-866-ILCHECK (1-866-452-4325) by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest. 

Sixty percent of the deer taken during the first weekend of firearm hunting were bucks, compared with 59 percent bucks taken during the first weekend of the firearm season in 2008.

The Illinois firearm deer season concludes Dec. 3-6. 

The muzzleloader-only deer season is Dec. 11-13. 

The expanded, split late-winter antlerless-only firearm and the Special CWD deer seasons (both in select counties only) are Dec. 31 through Jan. 3, 2010, and Jan. 15-17, 2010. 

The state’s 2009-2010 archery deer season continues through Jan. 17 (the season is closed in firearm counties during the second firearm season Dec. 3-6).

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