By TESA GLASS
---- — MT. VERNON — Deer taken during the 2013 firearm hunting seasons were down by almost 500.
According to information from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the entire firearm season totals were down considerably across the state, with 74,191 hunted this year, compared to 99,546 taken in 2012.
“Clearly this year’s preliminary firearm harvest numbers are below previous seasons, and while bad weather conditions throughout the state played a role, it cannot be the only factor,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Once all deer seasons are complete, our biologists will evaluate the deer management goals on a county by county basis to achieve stability in our deer herd.”
The deer herd management goals which were adopted in 2008 are in place today and based on the General Assembly Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control. The recommendation called for a 14 percent reduction in the statewide herd — the rate of automobile accidents with deer. According to IDNR many counties have met the goal and many are close to meeting the goal.
Deer taken statewide in the first season of firearm hunting this year — Nov. 22 through Nov. 24 — was at 18,483; deer taken in the second season — Dec. 5 through Dec. 8 — were 55,708.
During the second segment of the season, falling temperatures, gusty winds throughout the state and rain, freezing rain and snow continued through Friday in Southern Illinois. On the Saturday of the season, highs reached 20 degrees only in the southernmost parts of the state.
Jefferson County deer harvest totals came in at 1,688 placing the county with the seventh-highest number of deer taken during the combined seasons. During the first season, hunters in the county bagged 1,340 deer; 348 deer were taken in the second season. The total for 2013 was substantially lower than in 2012, when the total deer harvest was at 2,183.
Top county for deer harvest totals in the state was Pike County with a total of 2,269; second highest was Jackson County with 1,931; third was Fulton County with 1,886; fourth was JoDaviess County with 1,870; fifth was Randolph County with 1,786; sixth was Adams County with 1,783; Jefferson County was seventh; eight place went to Union County with 1,661; ninth was Hancock County with 1,584; and 10th was Williamson County with 1,481.