Preliminary deer harvest numbers by Illinois bowhunters came out last week at 64,934. That compares close to recent harvests of 63,441 (2007), 65,154 (2006), and 66,538 (2005), according to forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton.
What I found fascinating is that we have peaked in 2005 and leveled off. Now I found that odd because of a rapid increase in interest in bowhunting for deer. From my friends who bowhunt, I suspected that there is increased effort per deer taken because bowhunters are being more selective.
So I asked Shelton whether I was on to something or off base.
Apparently, he found the question interesting enough to do some quick research.
``We collect estimated days afield from our annual hunter harvest survey. I don't seem to have a final copy of the 07-08 survey, so I could only check thru 06-07. There's no indication that hunters are spending more days afield; it has been relatively steady for some time. I skipped back to the 94-95 season, and just looked at every third year or so.
Here's how it looks:
94-95: 22.36 days afield
97-98: 22.31 days afield
00-01: 22.01 days afield
03-04: 21.60 days afield
06-07: 22.31 days afield''
Sometimes a great notion, oh well.
BTW, Shelton said preliminary totals show the top five counties for 2008-09 were Pike (3762), Fulton (1825), Jefferson (1462), Adams (1403), and Peoria (1323).