Figuring bowhunting for deer in Illinois as the season opener comes Oct. 1
Figuring the changes and what the data means for deer hunting by Illinois bowhunters as the season opener comes Oct. 1.
Illinois bowhunters harvested more than half of their deer with crossbows last season for the first time.
That continues a steady upward trend since general use of crossbows was legalized in 2017. In the 2021-22 season, 51.5 percent of deer harvest by bowhunters was with a crossbow while compound bows accounted for 47.4 and traditional (long or recurve bows) 1.1.
As usual, Illinois’ season for bowhunting deer (and wild turkey) opens on Oct. 1.
For such a traditional form of hunting, change continues.
One of the tidbits in the 2020-2021 Illinois Hunter Harvest Report is the overlap of bowhunters who use both crossbow and compound.
Craig Miller, program Leader and principal investigator, human dimensions research program, oversees those annual reports for the Illinois Natural History Survey. The latest available version (for the ‘20-21 season) is at human-dimensions.inhs.illinois.edu/files/2022/04/2020-21-IHHS-Report-Final-Revised.pdf.
Those annual reports are gold mines on Illinois hunting. (I blew a morning sidetracked on little nuggets.) And I mean about any sort of hunting, down to how common harvest of Eurasian-collared doves is by dove hunters.
Bowhunters certainly skew different, but it’s a more solitary and quieter pursuit than firearm hunting.
The `20-21 report showed bowhunters exert far more effort: a quarter (24.7 percent) deer hunted 25 days or more for the season. So it makes sense that, in what is considered the 2020 season, the daily success was only .04 deer while the season bag was .71 deer. That’s compares to the .57 season bag by firearm hunters.
While playing with hunter and harvest numbers, here’s two of note from the annual deer harvest report last season. During the ‘21-22 season, 227,803 permits were issued to bowhunters. Harvest by bowhunters in ‘21-22 dropped significantly to 66,630, well off the record harvest of 75,106 established during the pandemic bolstered season in ‘20-21.
In other notes and numbers, it’s 20 years since chronic wasting disease was documented near Roscoe, Illinois in 2002. CWD, the always fatal neurological disease, has been detected in 19 counties in northern Illinois, including all nine-county Chicago area. By now, hunters should be informed. If not, go to www2.illinois.gov/dnr/programs/CWD/Pages/default.aspx.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages deer on a county level.
“The majority of counties in Illinois are near their population goals or managed below goal to mitigate the spread of [CWD],” emailed Dan Skinner, forest wildlife program manager. “At this time, the Forest Wildlife Program is considering opening twenty-three counties to the Late Winter Antlerless Only season in an attempt to reduce population size through hunter harvest. In counties where deer populations are below goal and firearm permit quotas have already been significantly reduced, the IDNR is investigating ways to curb antlerless archery harvest.”
The United States Department of Agriculture continues to monitor COVID-19 in deer. But the word from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is “there is currently no evidence that animals, including deer, play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of humans becoming infected with COVID-19 from animals, including wildlife, is low.”
As to what hunters know as EHD, Skinner emailed, “To date, our biologists have received calls of potential hemorrhagic disease events in eight counties, totaling approximately 25 deer. Based on reports thus far, hemorrhagic disease mortality does not appear to be severe or widespread.”
Considering all, I’m curious whether harvest this season by bowhunters will be near the ‘21-22 numbers or those of ‘20-21.