Illinois hunters had a down year for the first firearm deer season. Illinois hunter harvested 47,147 in the first weekend of shotgun season, down from the over 50,000 taken at the same time last year.
Despite having pretty nice weather, pandemic concerns have likely played a part. Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Rachel Torbert says there is still plenty of time left for hunters this year to get that trophy buck: “We are a little lower, but when you look at a number of factors including weather, the different crops in the ground, things like that; we are still looking good. Of course, we will see what the second firearm season brings. We still have archery season, which concludes January 17th. We have a muzzle-loader season in December. We have late-winter antlerless-only season in December and January. Then, we have CWD season [in select counties] in December and January.”
Most West Central Illinois counties saw a decline in the number of harvested deer. Brown County saw a drop of about 50 total to 557 during the first shotgun season. Cass was up by 4 from last year to 384. Greene was even at 632. Macoupin was down nearly 40 from last year to 987. Morgan was down 26 from the previous year to 375. Pike was down nearly 150 from last year to 1,029. Despite the drop, Pike had the 7th highest harvest of any county in the state. Sangamon fell by 3 from the previous year to 326. Schuyler fell by 43, down to 757, and Scott County fell by 21 to 176 total deer.
Randolph, Adams, Jackson, Fulton, and Jefferson counties had the highest harvests in the state overall, with 8 counties over 1,000 in the first weekend. IDNR predicts at least 100,000 deer will be harvested between the two firearm seasons this year.