Illinois deer hunting: A very good first firearm season

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A faithful reader, a Chicago-area hunter, emailed from deer camp in Pope County in far southern Illinois that they already had 12 deer by Saturday.

That just one of many signs of what looks to be a very good first firearm deer season in Illinois. The three-day first season runs through today.

I have no idea if we are talking about a possible record, but things are setting up for a very good first firearm season in Illinois.

A lot of it has to do with nearly ideal hunting conditions: no rain or snow, very light winds, cold mornings, and the earliest possible start to the firearm season, so some rut activity is still going.

That appears to be counter-balancing the downward influences, namely the reduction in the overall herd since the peak in 2005-06 and the impact of the EHD outbreaks this summer and fall, which hit more than three-quarters of the counties in Illinois.

Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton, who was/is at the Jo Daviess County check-in, said late Friday night that at one point they had vehicles lined up two wide for hundreds of yards.

And he said there were Boone and Crockett worthy deer being checked in.

Friday morning I was at the Grundy County check-in at Gebhard Woods State Park. And the morning was very busy, by their standards. And quality deer were being checked, though I don’t think I saw any Booners.

I have been hunting afternoons. I have an antlerless-only permit and let’s put it this way, I have had to watch very closely because so many nice bucks are running around mixed in with the does.

Yesterday, I watched from the ground blind as the lead doe and what I am guessing were three year classes of bucks–a good spike, a four-pointer and an impressive eight-pointer–fed in a rye field while half a dozen same year deer, which I assume included some button bucks, fed behind them.

It made for a fun time watching, though I forgot my camera.

And my buddy Jeff Lampe at Heartland Outdoors, even picked up a beauty of a buck in Peoria County.

There’s today, and second season, if need be.

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