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Il deer hunters lets talk

Old 10-20-2015, 10:07 AM
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Default Il deer hunters lets talk

Thought it would be good to talk about what is going on with the state's deep population and the decline in annual harvest numbers over the past few years. We can share comments on what we expect or forecast for this year’s harvest, what we think is going on and what is really going on. Does anyone really know what is going on?

I believe this season harvest numbers will go up but not much and this will be across the state. I have looked into the deer harvest over the past 10 years focusing on the sharp decline of the 2013-2014 season and subsequently the 2014-2015 season. Deer harvest numbers across the state look like this:


SEASON HARVESTED/PERMITS (SUCCESS %) MALE %/FEMALE % ARCHERY %/FIREARM %

2004-2005 190,456 40 / 60

2005-2006 201,209/571,000 (35) 54/46 33/67

2006-2007 196,241/589,400 (33) 54/46 33/67

2007-2008 117,755/611,500 (19) 54/46 32/68

2008-2009 188,901/621,000 (30) 50/50 34/66

2009-2010 189,634/650,459 (29) 50/50 34/66

2010-2011 182,270/632,000 (29) 50/50 35/65

2011-2012 181,451/629,000 (29) 51/49 34/66

2012-2013 180,811/634,000 (29) 51/49 33/67

2013-2014 148,614/618,500 (24) 51/49 39/61

2014-2015 145,720/592,500 (24) 53/47 38/62


So in looking at those numbers I do not believe the decline in the deer harvest is as bad as some people talk. I mean some talk like the deer are disappearing. Let’s just call 10-11, 11-12 & 12-13 seasons 181,000 deer harvested and 13-14 & 14-15 seasons as 147,000 deer harvested. That is only a 19% decrease in that time period and as my chart shows only 5% in the bigger picture. I'm going to look into the decrease more as what intrigues me is the drop from 12-13 to 13-14 and then reoccurring 14-15. I do believe the numbers and that fewer deer are being killed but I believe there are some other factors that are playing into state’s deer harvest numbers.
1. I think there are fewer guys hunting. Even if they got tags other things kept them from the field as people are increasingly busy with a multitude of things these days.
2. I think there is an increasing number of hunters not checking in their kills for one reason or another such as calling in is too much hassle, no phone service or just intentional (poaching).
Things like these alter the success ratio.

I have also looked at the crop harvest reports for the same time periods and see that crops came in timely in all years except the 2009-2010 season when things came in late. Only 19% of the corn was reported in on Nov 1 vs average of 90% in by +/- Nov 1. What effect did that late crop harvest have on the deer harvest that season? Really? None. Although there were 733 more deer reported harvested that year, it was an overall decrease of 1% compared to the number of total permits issued. (There were 5, 750 more archery permits issued also compared to 08-09). So no, the late crop harvest did nothing.

So what’s the issue? What are guys complaining about? What do the numbers say? What the heck is going on?

At this point obviously the deer harvest numbers are down about 34,000 deer in 13-14 & 14-14 from what we had come to expect from previous years. I guess if you look at it as 68,000 guys (34,000 x 2 yrs) who kind of expected to get deer, didn’t and are making a vocal issue about it – that is what is being heard.

Then there is the disease issue. There are diseases now in the state and I will look into the counties with disease reported and the deer harvest numbers in those counties to see if the drops are related to fewer deer populations in those counties.

So what are some thoughts? This seasons expectations and predictions for Illinois?

Last edited by uncle matt; 10-20-2015 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 10-20-2015, 01:32 PM
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OK I looked into the CWD counties. Although there are 16 CWD counties, the bulk of the issue is in the 4 core counties of Boone, DeKalb, McHenry and Winnebago.

When I compiled the numbers available for the 4 core counties IMO CWD isn't playing a real part in the decline of the state's overall deer harvest numbers the last few years. The harvest numbers in 3 of the 4 core CWD counties have actually been on the rise as the statewide deer harvest numbers have dropped.

So I'm still scratching my head.......


Boone (1 of 4 core CWD counties)
CWD cases/deer harvested
2003 (9/?), 04 (25/?), 05 (13/525), 06 (16/435), 07 (14/368), 08 (11/329), 09 (9/391), 10 (14/297), 11 (7/294), 12 (5/289), 13 (4/244), 14 (5/297)

DeKalb (2 of 4 core CWD counties)
CWD cases/deer harvested
03 (0/?), 04 (4/?), 05 (1/?), 06 (5/659), 07 (6/641), 08 (8/614), 09 (4/560), 10 (3/544), 11 (7/542), 12 (5/437), 13 (7/430), 14 (8/356), 15 (8/348)

McHenry (3 of 4 core CWD counties)
CWD cases/deer harvested
03 (2/?), 04 (2/?), 05 (4/?), 06 (4/1254), 07 (4/1265), 08 (0/1267), 09 (4/1070), 10 (3/1140), 11 (3/948), 12 (3/989), 13 3/1066), 14 (7/897), 15 (6/960)

Winnebago (4 of 4 core CWD counties)
CWD cases/deer harvested
03 (3/?), 04 (20/?), 05 (13/?), 06 (24/1254), 07 (17/1121), 08 (18/1086), 09 (12/1038), 10 (16/1139), 11 (10/943), 12 (7/925), 13 (5/1033),
14 (13/860), 15 (18/912)
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:23 AM
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I'm in Jo Daviess County (the northwest corner of IL) which is a "CWD County". I've looked at the same numbers on the IL DNR site that you've posted. I'm not sure what is driving the decline the past few years. I do know that I personally have seen no decrease in deer numbers while hunting. If anything, I see more deer now than I did 5+ years ago, and I've been hunting the same locations forever. Numbers harvested in Jo Daviess for 2010, 11, 12, 13, and 14 were 3961, 3886, 4364, 3556, 3763. It seems there are more seasons than ever, and tags can be bought over the counter during firearm seasons, which is a fairly recent new thing.

I bowhunt with a friend, and we both agree there is no shortage of deer. I also shotgun hunt with a group of 8-12 guys. We do a lot of pushing during the shotgun seasons, and we seem to be shooting more deer than ever the past five years. I don't think any of us are any better shots than we used to be, so the local deer population has to be up.
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Old 10-22-2015, 09:31 AM
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On another forum someone had asked what effect the flooding along the Illinois River may have had so I looked into that. "look at habitat in counties where harvest went down significantly. Spring flooding affecting birth ? I know along the Illinois River for the last ten years it has seen massive flooding well into the time period they should be having fawns." I looked into that for the 2 seasons prior to the significant deer harvest drop vs. the 2 years of deer harvest drop. Here is what I found.

Illinois River is 273 miles long, running through or bordering 17 Illinois counties.

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
1. Brown * 2644 2889 (+ 245, 13%) 2074 (- 815, 28%) 2074 (- 0, 0%)
Avg deer harvest loss from 11/12 & 12/13 to 13/14 & 14/15……………… 392 (- 25%)

2. Cass * 1373 1537 (+ 164, 12%) 1192 (- 345, 21%) 1214 (+22, 2%)
avg 252 (- 17%)

3. Fulton * 5170 5717 (+ 547, 9%) 4085 (- 1632, 30%) 4166 (+ 81, 3%)
avg 1318 (- 24%)

4. Greene * 2507 2508 (+ 1, 0%) 1877 (- 631, 25%) 1773 (- 104, 5%)
avg 685 (- 27%)

5. Grundy 1039 1006 (- 33, 0%) 821 (- 185, 18%) 784 (- 37, 4%)
avg 220 (- 22%)

6. Jersey * 1683 1720 (+ 37, 3%) 1339 (- 381, 22%) 1147 (- 192, 15%)
avg 458 (- 27%)

7. LaSalle 2499 2457 (- 42, 2%) 1891 (- 566, 24%) 1747 (- 144, 8%)
avg 659 (- 27%)

8. Marshall 1276 1232 (- 42, 3%) 1019 (- 213, 15%) 1000 (- 19, 1%)
avg 244 (- 20%)

9. Morgan * 1709 1586 (- 123, 7%) 1301 (- 285, 18%) 1228 (- 73, 5%)
avg 383 (- 23%)

10. Mason * 1087 1043 (- 34, 1%) 795 (- 348, 23%) 777 (- 18, 2%)
avg 279 (- 27%)

11. Peoria * 3015 3035 (+ 20, 1%) 2140 (- 895, 30%) 2050 (- 90, 4%)
avg 930 (- 31%)

12. Pike * 7179 7241 (+ 62, 1%) 5647 (- 1594, 22%) 5168 (- 479, 8%)
avg 1803 (- 25%)

13. Putnam 908 912 (+ 4, 1%) 714 (- 198, 22%) 689 (- 25, 4%)
avg 209 (- 23%)

14. Schuyler * 3108 3215 (+ 107, 4%) 2451 (- 764, 24%) 2523 (+ 72, 3%)
avg674 (- 21%)

15. Scott * 885 922 (+37, 11%) 665 (- 257, 28%) 634 (- 31, 5%)
avg253 ( - 28%)

16. Tazewell * 1588 1626 (+ 38, 3%) 1123 (- 503, 30%) 1041 (- 82, 7%)
avg 525 (- 33%)

17. Woodford * 1681 1834 (+ 153, 10%) 1245 (- 589, 32%) 1100 (- 145, 12%)
avg 585 (- 32%)

TOTAL AVG LOSS ALL 17 COUNTIES 9869 (25.5%)

TOTAL AVG LOSS 13 COUNTIES PEORIA & BELOW (26.2%)


These measureable losses in deer harvest only account for about a third of the state's loss so I believe it is a significant factor in explaining the decline in deer harvest but there are other factors.
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Old 10-22-2015, 09:35 AM
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My personal observations from hunting Will county (just a lot of bow hunting) and firearm in Johnson county is that I have not personally seen reduced deer numbers through my eyes.

It could be that hunter numbers have dropped regardless of the permits issued.

And what I am thinking is making the decline in harvest numbers such a fuss is social media. Social media can blow a small issue into a big one real quick.
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Old 10-23-2015, 07:49 PM
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Just another thought some counties have had more significant issues with disease than others, a county with already high population such as Jo Davies and others in the Golden Triangle have distinct advantages to rebound from the effect of any disease. Some places are not so fortunate to have the herd strength to withstand it and make a quick rebound. Also I wonder what the true result is when large numbers of doe's are reduced in a given area either by late season,doe only tags, or disease effects. This will cause a plummet in plain numbers when most will produce 2 offspring. Those numbers take time to replace given good conditions let alone with the disease and the extra tags still out there putting downward pressure on numbers in some areas. I've heard many guys say it both ways some see 10% of what they used to and some see 70 to 80% of what they used to. Should be interesting to see the final #'s in the spring.
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:34 AM
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I don't think disease was much of a factor. Darren Warner, in his 2013 Illinois deer forecast said, "Illinois hunters bagged 180,811 whitetails last fall, continuing an ongoing downward harvest trend in the Land of Lincoln since 2007. Last summer, epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) killed whitetails throughout Illinois. Officials estimate over 3,000 deer in 87 counties succumbed to the disease.

Nonetheless, about 700,000 whitetails still call Illinois home, so hunters should have plenty of opportunity to fill their freezers in 2013.

“There are some West-Central and Southern counties that still have too many deer,” said Tom Micetich, deer project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "

So going into 2013 season there sure were plenty of deer.
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:44 PM
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At this point I'm steering towards weather as being the main culprit for the lower harvest numbers. 2013 had terrible weather for the firearm opener and pretty much the whole first firearm season weekend. A lot of guys just stayed home not wanting to deal with weather and mud (what could be more fun?), stayed in camp or just packed it up. Hey, got to be prepared.

So there the numbers dropped to 140,000ish from where they had been 180,000ish.

The first firearm season is always the big deer harvest period. For the 2014 first firearm season I believe that regardless of how many permits were issued, a lot of people just didn't get into the field.

Now if there were some way to determine how many people did not try to fill their issued permits there would be much more accurate harvest statistics.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:57 AM
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good point on weather matt. I know last year's first season had terrible weather during first season wehre i'm located. Luckily, our group did very well friday, because saturday was way too foggy to be in the woods til about 2:00 pm, and sunday was rain all day. After having done well on Friday, our gruop had zero motivation to go play in the rain.
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:39 PM
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IMO the reasons for the dramatic decline in deer numbers in my area of Logan, Mason, and Menard counties since about 2005 are 1.the fall of no till farming practices. 2. destruction of habitat. 3.ehd 4.increasead hunting pressure and a wave of new hunters with a different attitude. 5.a kill all you can promotion by state officials. I see about 60 percent fewer deer now than I did then. weather means nothing imo.
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