For the first time in a decade, Illinois hunters failed to harvest more than 100,000 deer during the firearm seasons. The preliminary total was 99,419.
The last time the firearm harvest failed to reach 100,000 was in 1999, when hunters bagged 92,196 deer.
Here's the official word (If I figure out how to do tables, I will attach the county by county breakdown):
2009 Illinois Firearm Deer Season Preliminary Harvest Totals 99,419 Deer
Gun and bow hunting opportunities remain for deer hunters
SPRINGFIELD, IL -Deer hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 99,419 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season on Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 3-6. The preliminary harvest total compares with 105,595 deer taken by hunters during the 2008 firearm season.
The preliminary second-season (Dec. 3-6) harvest total was 33,293, compared with the 33,701 deer taken by hunters during the second segment of the season in 2008. This year's preliminary first-season (Nov. 20-22) deer harvest was 66,126, compared with a first-season harvest of 71,894 in 2008. The preliminary harvest totals include deer taken in all counties in which firearm deer hunting is permitted, as well as Chain O'Lakes State Park in Lake County.
"Harvest during the second season was nearly identical to last year," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton. "We did experience a slow start during the first firearm season. However, there are still plenty of hunting opportunities for hunters with Muzzleloader season and an expanded archery and Late-Winter firearm season."
Preliminary reports show that Pike County once again topped the county deer harvest totals for the firearm season as hunters there took 3,265 deer. Other top county harvest totals were Fulton (2,616), Adams (2,480), Jefferson (2,379), Jo Daviess (2,281), Randolph (2,256), and Jackson (2,153).
Hunters still have the opportunity to harvest deer in Illinois during remaining gun seasons and the rest of the 2009-2010 archery deer season. The three-day Illinois muzzleloader-only deer season is this week (Dec. 11-13), while the expanded seven-day split Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season are Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15-17, 2010. The statewide archery deer hunting season continues through Jan. 17, 2010.
Permits for both the Late-Winter and Special CWD seasons will be available over the counter through DNR Direct license and permit agents beginning Dec. 15.
Permits for the Late-Winter season will be issued in two categories, based on deer management needs in individual counties. In 11 select counties with a need for significant increases in deer harvest, hunters will be able to purchase Late-Winter permits without limit. In 59 other counties open for the Late-Winter season, hunters will be limited to purchasing one Late-Winter deer permit. As in years past, unfilled 2009 firearm, muzzleloader, youth, and landowner firearm permits will be valid for this season provided that they were issued for an open county, but only antlerless deer may be taken.
A list of counties that are open (and the permit limit for those counties) and closed for the Late-Winter season for 2009-2010 is available on the IDNR web site at this link: http://www.dnr.state.il.us/admin/pdf/latewintercountieslist.pdf.
Hunters in Boone, DeKalb, McHenry, and Winnebago counties and that portion of Kane County west of Ill. Rt. 47 can participate in the seven-day Special CWD Deer Season on Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15-17, 2010 to help control deer densities and the spread of chronic wasting disease. Special CWD season antlerless-only permits will be available beginning Dec. 15 over the counter for $5 each at participating DNR Direct license and permit vendors. In addition, hunters with unfilled 2009 firearm, muzzleloader, youth deer hunt, or archery deer permits valid for one of the open counties may use those permits to hunt during the CWD season.
Hunters using unfilled permits from the 2009 firearm, muzzleloader, youth, or archery season for the CWD hunt may take deer appropriate for that permit (antlerless-only or either-sex). There will be no manned check stations during CWD season this year. Successful hunters should report their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer was taken by calling the toll-free telephone check-in system at 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-ILCHECK) or by accessing the online check-in system at www.dnr.state.il.us/vcheck. Successful hunters are encouraged to have any adult deer tested for CWD by taking it to a cooperating meat processor.blockquote>