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Oh, deer! Harvest numbers are down

Bureau County leads the state

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 12:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 3:07 p.m. CDT
(BCR photo/Mike Vaughn)
According to preliminary numbers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Bureau County had an almost 30 percent decrease in the number of deer harvested during the firearm hunting season. The county saw the number drop from 1,402 killed in 2012 to 983 so far in 2013.

PRINCETON — Bureau County has seen nearly a 30 percent decrease in the number of firearm-killed deer during the 2013 firearm hunting season.

In fact, Bureau County led the state in the greatest decrease seen in all 102 counties.

According to preliminary numbers released by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Bureau County had a decrease of 29.9 percent killed during the firearm hunting season, down from 1,402 deer killed during the 2012 firearm hunting season to 983 deer killed in the 2013 firearm season.

Neighboring Lee County experienced the state’s second largest decrease of 29.7 percent, representing 784 deer killed in the 2012 season down to 551 deer killed during the 2013 firearm season.

All but one of Illinois’ 102 counties, Alexander County in Southern Illinois, saw a decrease in the number of deer killed during the recent firearm hunting season, Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8.

Statewide, the numbers dropped from 99,546 deer killed in the first and second seasons of firearm hunting in 2012 to 74,191 during the 2013 season.

Pat Wood, co-owner of the Wyanet Locker, said the processing of deer at the locker plant was down by 100 to 150 deer during the first shotgun season in late November, and by at least 75 deer in the second shotgun season in December.

The brutally cold weather probably didn’t help hunters get their deer this year, Wood said. Some hunters said they didn’t see as many deer this year, but others probably just didn’t stay out and work it as hard as in other years when the weather was milder, he said.

IDNR Director Marc Miller also attributed the decrease in the number of firearm-killed deer this year to the unusually cold weather during the second part of the firearm hunting season. Frigid temperatures lingered throughout that weekend, with single-digit lows. Outbreaks of disease also may have been a factor, Miller said.

“Clearly, this year’s preliminary firearm season harvest numbers are below previous seasons, and while bad weather conditions throughout the state played a role, it cannot be the only factor,” Miller said. “Once all deer seasons are complete, our biologists will evaluate deer management goals on a county-by-county basis.”

Hunters still have their chance to get their deer in coming week. The late season shotgun season included the last weekend in December and also the Jan. 17-19 weekend. Also, the archery season is still ongoing.

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