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Another look at the Illinois deer harvest

March 23, 2010 at 06:49 AM

Like many of you, I enjoy studying DNR deer harvest totals by county each year which always brings visions of the best places to be setting up a deer stand.

However, I have also spent a fair amount of time traveling the State of Illinois and consequently looking at maps. One thing that is very evident is that counties come in all shapes and sizes. So does it make sense to only look at county harvest totals when studying statewide deer harvests? Illinois hunting and fishing

Wouldn’t it also make sense to measure deer harvests in terms of density to get a better indication of where deer harvest success is occurring?

I decided to apply some simple math to see what differences this could make in county rankings. I took the 2009-2010 harvest totals by county and divided that by the square miles in that county to get a “Deer Harvested per Square Mile” for each of the 102 counties in Illinois. It was interesting to find that county sizes do vary considerably from a high of 1,174 square miles in McLean County to a low of 170 square miles in Putnam County.

Deer harvested per square mile ranged from a high of 10.58 in Calhoun County in Western Illinois to a low of 0.21 in DuPage County near Chicago. In terms of total deer harvested, Calhoun County only ranked 16th but rose to first in harvest per square mile since the county is smaller at 280 square miles.

In studying the differences, it is apparent that ranking by harvest density does make considerable differences. Of the top 10 counties in terms of harvest density, only three of those counties are also in the top 10 in terms of total harvest: Pike, Jefferson and Jo Daviess.

The advantage of studying deer harvests in terms of density is that it compares all counties on a more equal basis. The size of a county is not an advantage or disadvantage in determining the hunting success that occurred there. What is really dictating the deer harvest success of counties across the state is the amount of prime deer habitat that is found on the square miles within each county.

Those that rank towards the top are those counties that contain considerable amounts of terrain that deer thrive in. That is not to say that counties that rank lower don’t have great areas to hunt, but you may be driving through considerable areas of open farmland or populated areas within those counties to get to those honey holes.

Here’s a map of all Illinois counties: Illinois_Counties.pdf

Here are my findings:

Illinois county-by-county deer harvest per square mile

Counties are ranked in order based on their deer harvest per square mile during the 2009-10 seasons. Also provided is the overall ranking for each county based on total deer harvest.

 

County Sq Mi Harvest Harvest
sq mi
Harvest
rank
1 Calhoun 280.66 2965 10.56 16
2 Pike 837.4 8131 9.71 1
3 Brown 303.95 2866 9.43 19
4 Hardin 179.48 1495 8.33 57
5 Jefferson 577.55 4612 7.99 4
6 Johnson 345.03 2702 7.83 21
7 Schuyler 436.62 3235 7.41 11
8 Union 417.84 2949 7.06 18
9 Pope 370.46 2602 7.02 22
10 Jo Daviess 613.63 4147 6.76 5
11 Putnam 170.51 1146 6.72 71
12 Marion 569.69 3620 6.35 7
13 Randolph 588.68 3678 6.25 6
14 Fulton 873.68 5344 6.12 2
15 Williamson 439.51 2468 5.62 25
16 Peoria 623.69 3364 5.39 10
17 Adams 861.86 4613 5.35 3
18 Perry 442.3 2304 5.21 29
19 Pulaski 201.2 1048 5.21 76
20 Crawford 440.97 2251 5.1 30
21 Jackson 599.01 3017 5.04 14
22 Wayne 707.76 3504 4.95 8
23 Hamilton 431.24 2116 4.91 34
24 Franklin 427.09 2081 4.87 36
25 Clark 499.36 2423 4.85 26
26 Clay 464.22 2243 4.83 31
27 Jersey 373.43 1761 4.72 46
28 Greene 541.04 2524 4.67 23
29 Saline 382.94 1726 4.51 47
30 Fayette 717.64 3174 4.42 12
31 Massac 239.3 1041 4.35 77
32 Rock Island 447.32 1921 4.29 42
33 Carroll 462.7 1973 4.26 39
34 Cumberland 342.94 1440 4.2 60
35 Hancock 805.69 3373 4.19 9
36 Knox 712.37 2966 4.16 15
37 White 496.49 2065 4.16 37
38 Richland 358.02 1476 4.12 58
39 Cass 379.55 1562 4.12 51
40 Jasper 492.2 1999 4.06 38
41 Monroe 393.49 1504 3.82 56
42 Edwards 220.28 841 3.82 86
43 Bond 378.66 1429 3.77 61
44 Scott 250.06 934 3.74 83
45 Woodford 537.33 1958 3.64 41
46 Macoupin 857.93 3064 3.57 13
47 McDonough 583.92 2082 3.57 35
48 Effingham 474.92 1679 3.54 49
49 Alexander 250.75 872 3.48 84
50 Morgan 566.72 1965 3.47 40
51 Marshall 395.01 1360 3.44 63
52 Lawrence 369.94 1250 3.38 67
53 Gallatin 324.7 1088 3.35 74
54 Shelby 759.95 2489 3.28 24
55 Stephenson 560.06 1778 3.17 45
56 Bureau 865.96 2746 3.17 20
57 Ogle 757.12 2348 3.1 28
58 Montgomery 701.92 2166 3.09 33
59 Menard 311.94 962 3.08 81
60 Madison 732.09 2172 2.97 32
61 Washington 557.82 1627 2.92 50
62 Coles 504.87 1457 2.89 59
63 St Clair 666.66 1828 2.74 44
64 Mercer 562.12 1523 2.71 53
65 Clinton 497.76 1346 2.7 65
66 Vermilion 891.67 2352 2.64 27
67 Tazewell 651.28 1713 2.63 48
68 Wabash 225.04 587 2.61 90
69 Henderson 391.97 1021 2.6 78
70 La Salle 1137.41 2953 2.6 17
71 Dewitt 400.71 1005 2.51 79
72 Grundy 426.49 994 2.33 80
73 Whiteside 691.5 1556 2.25 52
74 Edgar 616.99 1382 2.24 62
75 Mason 557.44 1229 2.2 69
76 Sangamon 867.37 1894 2.18 43
77 Winnebago 515.2 1114 2.16 73
78 Moultrie 340.35 690 2.03 89
79 Warren 538.32 1070 1.99 75
80 Stark 285.67 554 1.94 92
81 McHenry 606.12 1140 1.88 72
82 Henry 817.22 1506 1.84 55
83 Christian 707.56 1271 1.8 66
84 Lee 722.21 1247 1.73 68
85 Macon 579.62 941 1.62 82
86 Will 841.22 1354 1.61 64
87 Boone 279.87 386 1.38 98
88 Logan 612.32 796 1.3 87
89 McLean 1174.05 1520 1.29 54
90 Kendall 319.42 387 1.21 97
91 Iroquois 1108.09 1210 1.09 70
92 Lake 467.18 497 1.06 95
93 Piatt 434.62 444 1.02 96
94 Kane 519.67 498 0.96 94
95 Douglas 412.83 366 0.89 99
96 Dekalb 629.22 543 0.86 93
97 Kankakee 674.62 570 0.84 91
98 Livingston 1035.63 854 0.82 85
99 Champaign 987.74 751 0.76 88
100 Ford 481.4 198 0.41 101
101 Cook 949.2 221 0.23 100
102 Dupage 333.51 70 0.21 102

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“What is really dictating the deer harvest success of counties across the State is the amount of prime deer habitat that is found on the square miles within each county.” This whole exercise can be summed up in that one statement.  The “real” analysis that should be taking place is not how many deer per square mile are being taken, but, rather, what is the quality of the habitat that those deer are being taken from, what is the quality of the deer herd in those counties, and how many deer per permit issued in those counties are being harvested.  But, more importantly to some resident deer hunters in Illinois, how many of those deer are being taken by non-resident deer hunters, outfitters, and off of land leased to non-residents? It is said that most of huntable land in Pike County is under lease. This State has a big problem providing it’s non-land owner, resident hunters an opportunity to continue to enjoy their sport. Illinois ranks at the bottom of the States purchasing open space/land for residents on an acres/per capita basis.  Access/Illinois is not providing public hunting lands as it was intended to do.  Resident hunters are seeing their public land hunting opportunities being taken over by hordes of non-resident hunters that continue to displace resident hunters each year in drawings for hunts on Illinois public lands.  When is the IDNR and the State Legislature going to do something for the Illinois taxpayers for a change, instead of for the big insurance companies, and the big outfitters, and the well-to-do non-resident hunters?  Just once, I’d like to see an article in PSO that said that our State government was doing something for the taxpayers and voters of Illinois!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 09:04 AM

“Just once, I’d like to see an article in PSO that said that our State government was doing something for the taxpayers and voters of Illinois!”
...
It won’t happen. It’s evident they simply don’t care and never will. Illinois has been sold to the highest bidder years ago. Behind the scene deals with the FB, politicians, etc. will continue. Nothing will ever happen until the Illinois deer hunters send them a message by not purchasing deer permits for a year but that will never happen. We have no unity.

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/23 at 09:13 AM

To the author: Microsoft Excel is your friend, my friend.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 09:16 AM

Marc I said that awhile back just don’t hunt for a year. But you are right most of us love to hunt so much, like you say it will never happen. But it would sure send them a message. We all said it a thousand times it’s all about the money. All we can do is go to the polls and vote and just hope we can get someone elected that gives a damm! Now theres dream for ya.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 09:41 AM

Actually, Excel would not help. Tabs do not work at all in this Web publishing program, which creates obvious headaches for all involved. At some point today I need to go back and space out the last 70 counties.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 03/23 at 10:21 AM

Interesting article, and certainly some food for thought there. I always like looking at Madison where I live, and see how it bounces up and down the various lists. Here it was 32 overall but dropped to 60 in harvest per square mile.
.........
The deer/vehicle collision data listed for Madison County is where it gets interesting though. Madison is #2 in terms of total collisions, but drops to #84 on the list of DVCs per billion miles driven.
.........
Reconciling these two lists I’d say we have only moderate quality habitat at best, and limited potential to control a low number of DVCs given the high number of highway miles driven (Highways 55, 70, 255. and 270 all transect Madison County).

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/23 at 10:46 AM

here we go again…...

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 10:53 AM

Interesting read. Thanks to the author for taking the time to calculate and provide the numbers for all the counties.

Posted by Bob Coine on 03/23 at 11:23 AM

I wonder how long it will be before IDNR begins to tabulate TVC’s (Turkey vehicle collisions) Had one go through my windshield this morning smile

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 01:02 PM

A DEER ARTICLE!!!!!! This will take the heat off the wolves real quick smile

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 01:24 PM

Great article and thanks for the info but does it really matter what the numbers are.  Until they stop handing out so many permits and taking care of all of the out of staters the deer hunting in this state will continue to decline.  Just get on some of these websites and look at the properties people are trying to lease.  What a joke 200 acres with hedgerows on it!!!  The sad thing is there are goons out there leasing this crap for a place to hunt.  This is a direct result of the outfitters and mininmal places to hunt.  Marc as for not buying permits I am with you, but the dnr will get their money one way or the other so the out of state permits will just move up to 50,000!!  If someone comes up with a better idea we are all ears!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 02:54 PM

Rageinthecage, I’m not sure the DNR will be able to fill the shoes of several thousand nonexistent resident hunters if we stop buying permits. They haven’t filled their NR quota as of yet but they’re trying! Anyway, the sad part is we just don’t have the unity. If someone like myself tried to start something like this, the idiots would just say that it’s all about big buck hunters and start arguing. If a meat hunter started such an event, the opposite would find another reason to argue. Hunters just can’t get it together!
...
I have been just looking for places to hunt outside of the state that I deem good places but without all of the pressure. You’d be amazed how many good places there are to hunt outside of Illinois without the headaches. Illinois is a sad, sad story. It once was God’s gift to the whitetail hunter and now it’s a disaster story for its own people.
...
Illinois- Ran by crooks, sold to outsiders and raped by politicians. What a shame.

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/23 at 04:06 PM

“You’d be amazed how many good places there are to hunt outside of Illinois without the headaches”
........
You can say that again :^)

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/23 at 05:37 PM

Marc: “You’d be amazed how many good places there are to hunt outside of Illinois without the headaches”
........
Henry: “You can say that again :^)”
============
============
Ditto.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 06:40 PM

its people like Marc Anthony that makes the politcians in this state the state of mind not to to give anything to us taxpayers. this is supposed to be a clean site not a bitch about things site. get over it if you dont like the state move away.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/23 at 11:06 PM

“its people like Marc Anthony that makes the politcians in this state the state of mind not to to give anything to us taxpayers.”
...
Yeah, it’s all my fault. They’ll punish everyone for my remarks. Newsflash: Thye could care less about what I say as they’ve been raping Illinois years before I became vocal. Wake up!

Posted by Marc Anthony on 03/24 at 06:18 AM

I would gladly join the 1 year boycott

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 08:29 AM

Here is link to google spreadsheets….i cleaned up numbers so you can actually read them.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AlKOGAd1brwedElXczdmMjlzUjB2SHo0SVUxRDdrU0E&hl=en

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/24 at 10:51 AM

Just a thoughts about providing more opportunities to resident deer hunters regarding access to huntable lands…..

Since the Illinois Farm Bureau, and their subsidiary Country Companies Insurance, are definitely in favor of decreasing the size of the deer herd in Illinois, they should support the idea of providing more hunting opportunities to resident deer hunters.  The taxpayers are supporting the payments to farmers in Illinois to set aside their CRP lands to not grow corn and soybeans. In effect, the resident hunters have already “paid” the farmers a “lease” payment, by virtue of the farmer signing up for the government’s CRP program.  So, Obama just has to sign an Executive Order making it a condition that every farmer in Illinois taking CRP payments, to open his property up to public hunting access.  Of oourse, it wouldn’t be mandatory, the farmer still has the option of not taking the CRP payment, and not allowing the public to hunt their properties.  Of course, this would also limit the opportunities for the additional income that the farmers receive from taking the CRP payments and, at the same time, leasing their lands out to outfitters and resident/non-resident hunters. But, I’m sure that most farmers would forgo that additional income in order to achieve control over the deer herd.  So, that would make an interesting scenario, the farmers could continue to get their CRP “welfare” payments from the Federal government, but they would have to open their lands up to public hunting in order to do so.  This program could open millions of acres of private huntable lands to the public, for virtually no increase in costs of the programs as they now currently exist.  Yes, this would be a win-win situation for just about everyone.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/25 at 08:46 AM

Big D, programs like the one you mentioned aready are in place, out West. Nebraska has a program almost exactly like the one you are talking about. But there has to be a “want to by the state” I am much like the other guys on this site I don’t think they care. I have seen access to private ground in my area almost completely dry up. They need to think less about big saleries and petions and more about the people paying their salery.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/25 at 03:09 PM

Big D,
  I believe there is a similar program in place in North Dakota. If memory serves me correctly, I was able to go to Wal Mart and purchase an “atlas” of the state. The maps clearly indicated what areas were privately owned yet open to the public. When we located these areas, they were clearly marked with a sign.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/25 at 05:09 PM

BigD the net result of your proposal would of course be net loss in habitat. Why not support a cap in NR lisences instead? As an outfitter, you’re in a position to organize such a lobby.
........
Outfitters broke the cap, so maybe they can get it reinstated.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/25 at 11:33 PM

It’s really easy to see how Obama got elected. I swear, some of you people on here would believe anything.  I am amazed that any on here though that I was serious about that bunch of bullsh*t about CRP payments to landowners to allow a bunch of freeloaders with guns to run roughshod over CRP private lands.  That is the most socialistic bunch of crap that I could whip up on short notice.  I really can’t believe that anyone on here would support such a blatant violation of one’s private land rights.  In the first place, hunting is a privilege not a right.  The second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives everyone the right to bear arms.  There is no “Right to Hunt” Clause in the Constitution, unless you believe that hunting is “the pursuit of happiness.”  Hunting is a privilege that is granted the individual citizen by the State, based upon that “citizen” passing basic qualifications including buying a hunting license, passing a hunter safety course, drawing or buying a permit or tag, buying a habitat stamp, U.S. and State Migratory Waterfowl Stamps, obtaining a H.I.P. certification number, and possessing a F.O.I.D. card.  That just gets you legal to hunt in Illinois, that doesn’t get you a place to hunt.  If you are real lucky you live close enough to the Shawnee National Forest and can hunt on public land there, or at a nearby State Park or State Conservation Area.  Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough public lands in Illinois open to hunting to provide hunting opportunities for everyone that would like to hunt.  Access to private lands is drying up, as more and more farmers are leasing their huntable properties to Outfitters and well-to-do hunters, both resident and non-residents.  Much as you hate to admit it, hunting in America today is heading towards the label of “a rich man’s sport.”  As a Hunter Safety Instructor, I look out over those classes of young hunters that we keep graduating and wonder where all of those kids are going to hunt in the future.
I really feel sorry for them and their parents.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/26 at 12:31 AM

You said it BigD. It would be a really tough hobby to give up if one were to run out of places to hunt. I would like to think that supply-and-demand economics would tilt the table back into our favor eventually if enough hunters quit the sport and refused to make those insane lease payments on private land. But there’s a long line of jokers waiting to move in, many of them with deeper pockets than us. So that idea seems unlikely. Public access is (IMHO) the most important piece of the puzzle - even more than youth involvement. I think we’ve got enough interest in the state; we just need more (free) access for residents.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/26 at 06:40 AM

Hmm… He was for it before he was against it. I think you could have a career in politics. You can keep your gov’t given privileges and I’ll hang on to my God given rights and traditions thank you very much.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/26 at 08:26 AM

Does anyone know if outfitters have to pay for some type of outfitting license?  I’d love to see an enormous outfitter fee in this state.  Make it difficult to become a profitable outfitter.  That’s the answer.  Limit the number of NR tags and huge outfitter license fees.  On secdond thought, that’ll never happen in Illinois.  Aside from the money grab in Springfield, I really think the Outdoor Channel makes the higher-ups in Springfield feel good about their job performance.  I like watching hunting shows too, but I’m getting real tired of hunting becoming a competition.  When did hunting stop becoming an individual sport?  I liked it when I was out to please myself, not to compete with the big guys on the block.  I only own 50 acres, and I like it that way.  It makes me hunt better and pay attention to my herd health and numbers much more.  It makes it more difficult to get a nice buck after he’s been bumped a time or two.  Hell, it makes it difficult to get a doe. 

I think the public hunting land thing is a fruitless effort.  The state will never try to help hunters get more places to hunt.  I think the answer is buying property for yourself.  I know everyone can’t do that, but if enough of us do, it’ll open spots on the public ground for the non-landowners.  I kow a lot of people think they can’t afford a piece of property, but I disagree.  Most people can…especially with cost per acre falling like it is right now.  You don’t have to buy 100 or 200 acres.  Buy a small piece and work your way up.  There’s a lot of pride in owning a piece of property.  It also encourages the owner to do better by their deer.  Yes, THEIR deer.  I know the state claims they own them and legally they do, I just don’t see it like that.  I’ll be as legal as anyone else, but as soon as that deer sets foot on my property, I feel he is mine.  That mindset makes me much more concerned about it’s health and needs.  Stop waiting for the state to help you.  Obama will not pay your mortgage for you and the state of Illinois will not find you a place to hunt.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/26 at 09:53 AM

I see some good points here and Murdy is right whats wrong if the state pays a little extra to get it open to the public. No one is being forced into it.
..
What I didn’t know is that the politicians hated Marc so much they withhold stuff from the rest of us because he speaks his mind. Wow I guess we have all missed the obvious solution in all our debates. Marc needs to stop saying bad stuff so we all have a place to hunt and the politicians will do things right. Lol.
..
On a serious note I’d forgo a season to send a message, this has nothing to do with bones or meat. When you think about it we are all getting shafted the same anyway.
.. 
While I have my way of doing things and no I don’t always agree with everyone on here, everyone has the right to enjoy the sport the way they see fit as long as it’s in a legal manner and they are not intentionaly preventing anouther from doing what they enjoy. I for one welcome all opinions even if I don’t always agree.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/26 at 11:12 PM

I wish making tables were easier. That looks better.

Posted by Jerry Smith on 03/27 at 04:31 AM

As for firing all of them we hired them so we should be able to and we can the next time around!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/27 at 07:18 AM

BigD you didn’t just “whip that up” as you say. It wasn’t your idea, and there are plenty of folks out there that think farmers getting that big fat govt check from the taxpayer should have to give soumething back to the taxpayer.
————
“As a Hunter Safety Instructor, I look out over those classes of young hunters that we keep graduating and wonder where all of those kids are going to hunt in the future. I really feel sorry for them and their parents.”
————
How about as an outfitter, what do you wonder then? You really Should go into politics BigD, you got the schtick down pat.
————
Andy I think there are only two alternatives. One we bring back the cap. Probably not a snowballs chance in hell of that happening unless the outfitters and farm bureau fight for it which is just one more snowball. Number two is if the DNR trashes any sense of quality in the herd statewide and Illinois’ reputation begins to suffer. That is already happening to an extent, but with the amount of land tied up there are areas the DNR has all but lost control over. I think it’s inevitable that we’re gonna look more and more like Texas (get in on a lease or hunt way overcrowded limited public land).

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/27 at 08:21 AM

I remember talking to a few hunters when I was working in Texas in the 90s. Seems like pay to play had already long since entrenched itself, and it certainly hasn’t gone in reverse down there.
——-
Illinois and Texas have a couple of things in common, big bucks and mostly private property, and that combination brings out the money like flies to honey. What Illinois does NOT have are the large ranches that can outfit to rich hunters as an added profit sector to a traditional ranch business. Here in Illinois the best outfitters can do is act as a middleman tying a bunch of leases together on a shoestring, and often as not pretty drab accomodations or a motel.
——-
Eventually I think leasing will become the norm up here and a lot of the middleman outfitters will get squeezed out. Loss in the state’s reputation will help bring that about. Like I said I think thats already happening - I’m applying for gun tags in Iowa next year, taking a December DIY float trip hunt on public land, and I might head east to the Allegheny National Forest for a DIY hunt there too with OTC bow tags.

Posted by Henry Holt on 03/29 at 09:22 AM

Hey how are you. I found your blog through Google and I just wanted to say that I think your writing is simply stunning! Thanks again for providing this content for free.


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