Illinois Deer Hunting Seasons Underway
by Kathleen Clark
The annual observance of Christopher Columbus Day is popular with Illinois hunters.
The three-day weekend gives youth a day off school and an extra-long weekend to take to the timber. Youth Firearm Season, open to hunters under 18, is Oct. 12-14 this year.
For the past several years, youth with unfilled permits can use them during the first part of firearm deer season (Nov. 22-24 for 2019). This option has been popular with hunters since in the beginning of October, hunters often find themselves battling summerlike weather.
Recently the youth harvest numbers have gone down during their designated weekend. Currently, there is no data available on how many are successful during the first firearm season.
Last year a total of 10,131 youth permits were sold. The number is down from the 2018 and 2017 seasons when 11,305 and 11,480, respectively, were sold. This was the lowest number of permits sold in the last five years.
Three years ago, in 2016, youth had a new record for the season with 3,272 deer harvested. That record will likely hold because of the additional time opportunities for the youth.
The first youth season was in 2003 and the 2019 season will be the seventh one to be 3 days. This year, as it has been since 2007, youth hunters can harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer.
There have been no changes to the 2019 Youth Season. Next year, a pilot program goes into effect that will allow youth to be able to hunt in any IL county. The bill was approved by IL legislators over the summer.
Remaining firearm tags go on sale statewide Oct. 15. Remaining tags per local county are listed (first is the remaining number of Either Sex, second the number of Antlerless Only tags available): Macoupin, 1,709 / 1,361 – Greene, 56 / 63 – Morgan, 51 / 0 – Sangamon, None Listed – Scott, None Listed – Montgomery, 116 / 0.
The total remaining Muzzleloader Permits are listed as: Macoupin, 314 – Greene, None Listed – Morgan, 2 – Sangamon, 4 –Scott, 8 –Montgomery, 10.
The first couple days of the Archery Deer season, which began Oct. 1 in Illinois, were hot, with temperatures nearing 90 degrees. A cold front came in Thursday finally providing some cool, fall-like weather.
All deer hunters are required to register their harvests by 10 p.m. the same calendar day the deer was taken. This can be done by calling 866-ILCHECK or by accessing the on-line check-in system on IDNR’s website.
Last year archers took 61,096 deer and IL Department of Natural Resources Deer Harvest Report for the 2018-19 season show some interesting trends. Crossbows are proving to be a popular tool with hunters. There has been a drastic increase in crossbow use; 40 percent of deer taken during the 2018-19 archery season were with one. This is 10 percent more than the previous 2017-18 season. Compound Bow harvests declined from 87 percent in 2014
to 59 percent in 2018. Use of Crossbows was open to all hunters in 2017.
Throughout the state during all seasons Illinois hunters took 151,709 deer – a number pretty much on par to recent seasons. The current five-year harvest average is 148,932. The state reports that 511,511 permits were issued for all hunting seasons which was a decrease of 7 percent from the year before. There were 198,457 archery permits issued, and 272,272 firearm permits.
Non-residents received 11 percent of the archery permits and 6 percent of the firearm ones.
Macoupin County hunters harvested 2,960 deer during the 2018-19 seasons. The season breakdown is: 26 during Youth, 55 during Muzzleloader, 162 during Late-Winter Firearm, 1,703 during Firearm and 1,014 during Archery.
IDNR gave some insight to the number of points on antlered deer harvested last season. A breakdown of point numbers and harvest method shows most deer were 7-8 (37 percent) and 9-10 (25 percent) pointers throughout all hunting methods. Numbers were pretty consistent between archery and gun seasons. Most notable is a bit more gun hunters (14 percent compared to 11 percent) shot 5-6 point deer and a bit more archery hunters shot the 9-10 (9 percent vs. 6 percent) and 11-12 (9 percent vs. 6 percent) pointers.
Note, Archery deer hunting is open during the following firearm seasons: Muzzleloader-Only Season (Dec. 13 – 15), Youth Firearm Season (Oct. 12 – 14), Late Winter/CWD Deer Seasons (Dec. 26 – 29, 2019 & Jan. 17 – 19, 2020).
Those afield will need to wear their blaze orange or pink too.