Fewer deer taken during firearm season this year

By Nick Kovatch on December 15 at 8:02am

Bad weather on firearm deer-hunting weekends helped hold down the harvest in 2013.

The statewide numbers are down more than 25-thousand compared to last year. The season encompasses seven days over the weekends on either side of Thanksgiving weekend.

John Buhnerkempe, wildlife division chief for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, says it’s too early to be disappointed.

“We have a lot of season left,” says Buhnerkempe. “Of course, our firearms season was our primary season but still there’s our muzzleloader season and our late winter season forthcoming. Probably we’ll have everything put together by mid-winter and we’ll have a better idea of what transpired in the seasons overall.”

Archery season runs through January 19th. There are also antlerless and chronic wasting seasons.

Buhnerkempe says there’s a lot to learn from the deer harvest numbers.

“Also, our deer open houses and survey work we did with our hunters and general public so that when this next season comes to an end I think that we’re going to be able to really take a close look and see if we’re really achieving our deer management goals in each county.”

In Morgan County, the harvest for firearm season was down over the year from 975 in 2012 to 767 in 2013; in Cass County, it dropped from 816 to 606; in Greene County it fell from 1,351 to 1,099; and in Scott County the harvest was down from 490 to 404.

The top counties for the 2013 firearm season are Pike, Jackson, Fulton, Jo Daviess, Randolph, and Adams.