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Illinois muzzleloader hunters shoot 4,697 deer

December 16, 2009 at 11:29 AM

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters participating in the 2009 Illinois Muzzleloader Deer Hunt harvested a preliminary total of 4,697 deer during the season conducted on Dec. 11-13.  The harvest compares with the 4,310 deer taken by hunters during the 2008 muzzleloader season and is the third-highest total on record, behind 2006 (5,973) and 2005 (4,879).

The top county harvest totals for the 2009 muzzleloader season were in Pike (221), Fulton (124), Jo Daviess (114), Hancock (109), and Jefferson (103) counties.

Both firearm and archery deer hunting opportunities are still available for hunters in Illinois prior to the end of the 2009-2010 deer hunting seasons on Jan. 17, 2010. 

The expanded seven-day split Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season are Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15-17, 2010.  The statewide Archery Deer Hunting season continues through Jan. 17, 2010.  Permits are available over the counter through DNR Direct license and permit agents for each of these seasons.

Hunters are reminded that not all counties are open for the remaining firearm seasons.  For more details on which counties are open for the Late-Winter and Special CWD seasons, and for other deer hunting regulations information, click here.

The table below includes preliminary county harvest totals for the 2009 Illinois Muzzleloader Deer Season and the comparable county harvest totals for 2008.

County 2008 2009
Adams 70 81
Alexander 34 33
Bond 19 30
Boone 10 7
Brown 83 72
Bureau 77 96
Calhoun 66 91
Carroll 51 56
Cass 28 39
Champaign 22 44
Christian 30 27
Clark 53 62
Clay 51 46
Clinton 19 24
Coles 24 16
Crawford 56 40
Cumberland 24 26
DeKalb 8 17
DeWitt 30 29
Douglas 6 12
Edgar 35 43
Edwards 16 25
Effingham 35 23
Fayette 70 60
Ford 7 7
Franklin 43 48
Fulton 93 124
Gallatin 49 42
Greene 60 57
Grundy 18 23
Hamilton 45 54
Hancock 82 109
Hardin 54 67
Henderson 22 27
Henry 39 56
Iroquois 49 47
Jackson 62 81
Jasper 55 62
Jefferson 136 103
Jersey 24 34
JoDaviess 112 114
Johnson 68 67
Kane 5 3
Kankakee 12 14
Kendall 10 14
Knox 66 85
LaSalle 55 71
Lawrence 21 28
Lee 21 47
Livingston 24 30
Logan 21 19
Macon 37 32
Macoupin 65 56
Madison 40 33
Marion 103 68
Marshall 26 35
Mason 52 34
Massac 15 41
McDonough 38 64
McHenry 20 18
McLean 38 49
Menard 24 25
Mercer 28 50
Monroe 25 24
Montgomery 32 36
Morgan 43 39
Moultrie 32 28
Ogle 46 58
Peoria 57 68
Perry 37 37
Piatt 7 10
Pike 219 221
Pope 47 63
Pulaski 37 36
Putnam 37 37
Randolph 70 82
Richland 25 22
Rock Island 38 43
Saline 44 56
Sangamon 46 45
Schuyler 95 93
Scott 20 27
Shelby 71 53
St. Clair 21 40
Stark 17 22
Stephenson 44 37
Tazewell 20 31
Union 80 79
Vermilion 50 52
Wabash 12 11
Warren 26 29
Washington 28 37
Wayne 81 79
White 69 61
Whiteside 34 50
Will 22 26
Williamson 44 50
Winnebago 29 23
Woodford 49 55
Total 4310 4697

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

I dont think its all bad on these deer numbers going down.  land prices will go back to nothing for recreational land.  And when the state does get a person in charge other than shelton.  Some of us can have enough land to fight the next idiot they hire.  How many deer would we have if we had no dnr?  I dont know thats a good question.  My whole goal today was to get ahold of a game warden… Never did and had to call the sheriff.  So my guess?  There isnt enough CPO’s to help out much.  The ones that are around work their butts off.  Are you giving them credit for something im not seeing?  For setting seasons?  NOt letting it go all year?  They dont set the amount of gun days thats legislation.  SO im not certain what you are giving them credit for regarding whitetailed deer?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 07:05 PM

I thought every hillbilly in IL already mowed down every deer they seen?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 07:15 PM

Coles 24 16
Moultrie 32 28
Shelby 71 53


Theres the 3 counties I hunt. All with drops in harvest just like the past TWO years of firearms seasons. In fact all 3 counties together account for less than 100 deer for the muzzleloader season. If I have figured correctly, that is a drop of 23.62% in 1 season. I guess my position is even backed by data put out by our beloved DNR!! Who woulda guessed? OK Johnny and Bungbuster, give us your spin on how things are just dandy all over thanks to Shelton.


Hey johnh and bungbuster - MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Will you be celebrating with your families or just each other?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 07:27 PM

Don, you ever hunt Schuyler County? Any of your relatives hunt it?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 08:12 PM

Tom, no I dont hunt Schuyler or have relatives that hunt there but I did plant some trees last fall on a really good looking piece over that way!!!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 08:29 PM

shelby your right wasnt sure if you meant guys just pick up a muzzloader and use it with shotgun tags in this state nothing would surprise me .Clint why do u feel it neccasary to disklose edukation levels.FYI i has a college dagree and guess wat its not in english lol Leaving for vacation hope everyone has a nice xmas

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 09:02 PM

Don, know a guy from Schuyler that knew some Higgin’s that hunted near him. Thought it might be your family. Guess not. Yeah, I hear there’s some nice habitat over that way. As well, some nice Booner’s have been taken there over the last couple years.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/16 at 09:39 PM

Coles 24 16
Moultrie 32 28
Shelby 71 53

maybe its all the prepubescent bucks you slung on your outhouse for your book cover that affected it.. funny how its only you and clints areas that are down but 52 other counties have increases.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 07:34 AM

I’m not stirring the pot… Has anyone thought that MAYBE a big part of the reason more tags were sold is because the antlerless tags are available over the counter now, instead of having to mail it in and wait?  Since it’s a whole lot easier and quicker to get them, it makes it obvious to me.  Yeah maybe there were more permits available, but think about it.  Of those more permits available, does anyone know how many were either sex tags?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 07:46 AM

First of all, it doesn’t take an 8th grade education to understand that the goal of the DNR/JTF is to reduce the state’s deer herd. They said it themselves as the mechanism to reduce DVCs. So there’s no denying that obvious support for the many on this site that are complaining about the declining deer herd. Second of all, no one has really acknowledged the caveat that we are using harvest numbers as a proxy for the size of the state’s deer herd. That may have worked in the past, but now with more seasons + more tags being issued more than ever, is it still as appropriate as it once was? What if the state issues 2,000,000 permits in one year and folks shoot 500,000 deer? In one year? Think about next year. And the year after. I know that example is very extreme, but who knows what the DNR/JTF will have up their sleeve once this target DVC is reached (I know we should be very close to reaching it). I will concede that there still is no better way to measure the state’s deer herd with such limited funds. But any smart hunter should understand that the decreasing success rate (it has dropped precipitously) and the negative trend in harvest over the past few years, despite the increase in effort, is not a good sign. Again, I withold drawing any conclusions on this year until all is said and done in January. Cheers!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 08:07 AM

The fact is that the “Statewide” deer density or if you would rather “size of the deer herd” or, the number of individual deer on a Statewide basis…is down.  And down considerable from its peak population in the 2003-2004 time period.  IDNR, Farm Bureau, Outfitters, Insurance companies, and knowledgeable deer hunters don’t dispute that fact.  How do we know this….overall deer harvest numbers are going down along with DVC’s, number of trophy deer taken by outfitter clients are down from six years ago, and, in general, number of deer reported seen by vast majority of deer hunters, rural bus drivers, rural delivery drivers, and others who make their living in deer territories are seeing a lot less deer than six years ago.  There is no doubt, that in some places in Illinois and in some Counties there are substantial differences in deer populations due to one factor or another.  Some places got hit a lot harder by the EHD epidemic in the Fall of 2007.  Clint is seeing less deer in Wayne County, because it and Randolph County were two of the hardest hit Counties in Illinois in 2007.  The fact is that the muzzleloader season is not a good indicator of the overall health of the deer herd.  A 4% difference in a sample of 5,000 deer killed is 200.  Standing corn, weather, or any number of factors could disrupt this figure.  Out of 100 counties in Illinois, that’s only 2 deer per County difference.  If you take the overall deer harvest, which should be around 180,000 this year (360,000 permits x 50% success rate) and apply that same 4% factor you get 7,200 deer or about 72 deer per County difference…..that is significant. 

What Don, Marc, Clint, myself, and a lot of the rest of you are saying is that the IDNR is supposed to set the seasons, permit numbers, etc. to support a realistic harvest of deer so that the “cultural carrying capacity” can be achieved and, then, maintained at that level.  All data collected from all sources is showing that the deer population is going down in Illinois.  At what point will the IDNR slow down the harvest of deer to maintain that number and when will they know that they have achieved that number.  I guess right now the DVC’s will decide according to what has been approved by the Deer Task Force and the legislature.  So to discuss this point any further is an utter waste of time.  No need for name calling, in the battle of wits we are playing against an enemy that has no ammunition…....

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 08:30 AM

i say numbers are near the same dnr an all these guys dont take in account deer get smarter every year due to dumb hunters when u hunt an enter these woods u leave no trace. many hunters walk around there land all season long mushroom hunt an set upmineral sites all this educates deer an hunters are lazier now even me. it took me less than 2 hours to kill deer this year seen lots of nice bucks even on public land an killed a nice eight point but deer are smarter an being pushed to evolve which means nocturnal habits an homerange movement to safer suburban areas i see more deer in town during shotgun season than in the timber due u think dnr counts deer in town an these deer are causing accidents an hardships in the suburban areas subburban bow tags should be issued for pre rut times to push these deer back to timbered areas an out of our cities were they run mad during gun seasons thus increase sightings in shotgun muzzloader seson by keepin them on there original home range feilds an timber

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 09:05 AM

Great post BigD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 10:00 AM

I agree great post BigD! Can someone ask on of their buddies at the DNR “What are their short term and long term goals in managing our states herd”? I am sure Pual Shelton must have a plan? This shouldn’t be a tough question.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 10:26 AM

Call, and talk to Paul. Has anyone tried that in the last 3 weeks? Last time I checked, all DNR personnel are accessible.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 11:43 AM

Here’s one thing I think we can all agree on.  The DNR certainly does want fewer deer (and it is fewer, not less) and we hunters certainly do want more deer.  I keep saying the same thing.  We are the tool that the DNR uses to decrease the herd size.  STOP LETTING THEM USE YOU AS A TOOL!  Don’t buy the tags.  Don’t feel the need to use every tag just because.  We are in control of the deer herd, not the DNR.  Remember the days when hunter’s would ask each other if they got a deer this year?  That wasn’t too long ago.  Now we ask each other how many we got.  Ever think it may be our own fault?  We are responsible for the killing, so let’s now be responsible for replenishing what we’ve eliminated.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 02:31 PM

My county of residence had 2,059 deer harvest this year vs. 2,432 in 2008 for combined 1 st, 2 nd and muzzleloader season for a 16% decrease. My take is that muzzleloader season boast such a small number of harvest that if there are 20 more deer taken it does not make for a great success. I believe Hancock had one of the largest declines from previous year according to numbers posted. We have in the past couple years started having difficulty getting permission to hunt tracts that have always been available due to an outfitter knocking on every door and promising big money. I know of a few landowners that have gotten burnt but neverless has intitated a trend of leasing. Deer hunting has changed alot in recent years due to land access, increase of permits. It is obvious that marketing has influenced the deer herd.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 05:26 PM

What a bunch of useless garbage posted on here. You all cry you arent seeing deer, you piss and moan your county shot 2 less deer than last year, the herd is down, blah blah blah. I have the cure all, sit your tails and home and do laundry, wait 4 years, then try hunting again and see if its better, or you can stop your whinning, change what your doing and enjoy the outdoors. We all hunt one of the greatest states in the country, and just about every one of you is crying about it. Its pathetic

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/17 at 07:04 PM

“todd what are you saying?? they are making hunting better! They are shooting all those extra deer! Here in about ten years im sure that you would like to have them extra deer back! I think tehre are people in this room that would shoot the last deer in the state if it walked by! Why/? Cause they bought a tag and they could tell there buddies hey i shot the last one in the state! Clint (from bowsite december of 00)

I do notice now that there are more people that want them back…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 01:54 AM

Rules of the PSO forum site:

#3. Keep it clean.
#4. Stay on topic.
#5. Be civil, honest and accurate.

Last time I checked this site was about the Illinois Muzzleloader Harvest Data.  How we got into a discussion of outhouses, deer excrement, homo-phobic wannabe deer hunters, and other crap that has nothing to do with the topic at-hand is beyond me!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 08:14 AM

I checked out this Higgins barn - I’d be happy w/
that harvest - and from that I conclude he must have
a decent place to hunt and also some decent management of it.  I am relatively new to this and have turned to books on the proper management.(not higgins books) In 3 yrs I have noticed great improvement already. New people to this sport need to be educated. I am truly appreciative of the resources I have had including other hunters and also a visit w/ a DNR Biologists.
A lot of what I am doing know I will never benefit
from it, but some young 10-15 yr olds will. 
Just like the mature oak forest some of you hunt from - somebody had to start it.
I have 5 neighbors as I am sure most of you who hunt have.
one practices sound manageament the other 3 are fill
the woods w/ as many hunters as possible and shoot at will.  I dont complain - its thier land and they can do w/ it as they want.
This is where I dont think the DNR/Politicians take into consideration.  Having 5 gun seasons is not a
proper management tool for a majority of the property that is hunted.
Just like duck hunting if you make a 6 duck bag limit a majority are going to hunt for those six ducks and the minority will say do you really need a
60 day 6 duck bag limit?
As long as thats the law thats what will happen and
I think the same is going to apply w/deer.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 09:07 AM

well “johnh” - that explains it all.  You say you own ground/hunt North of Kickapoo.  No wonder you don’t think there’s a deer problem.  I’ve hunted that park, ran the Wilderness trail, and ran the Lake Mingo trail many times.  To those of you not familiar with the area, Kickapoo is a very nice, well-timbered park with LOTS of deer (where the 7.6 mile Wilderness trail is).  It’s a typical state park with part of it set off limits to hunt.  To the North of Kickapoo is the Kennekuk county park (7.1 mile Lake Mingo trail)and is also very good timber with limited hunting.  See - you thought I was a “golden triangle guy” and like everything else you say, you were WRONG!  You just keep shooting all those “park deer” and the rest of us will actually HUNT deer.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 11:41 AM

With all the bs en on here a outhouse seems very fitting.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 12:06 PM

I’m with keb

Posted by WhoaThereBigFella on 12/18 at 03:45 PM

This site is going south very fast.

Posted by Marc Anthony on 12/18 at 04:22 PM

Marc?  Can you see the difference here?  These guy think deer management and discussion is funny and turn it into a mess so it cant even be discussed.  Its one thing thinking its fine in their area.  But johnh and lungbuster wont even hear of it or really allow a sensible discussion to even take place. Johnh, Hunted deer and unhunted deer act TOTALLY different.  I have a piece of land where i can see 10 deer a day or could and they wouldnt even look at you and acted like if they did see you they wondered what that weird spot on the tree was then went back to feeding.  Thats because for 15 years they havent been shot at.  If i have a trophy in there hes EASY to kill.  Where i have other places where they are pressured hard and this has many differences on the actions of the deer.  1. I get trail camera pictures in this woods all day long of mature bucks.  I had pictures just this week of 2 decent books at noon and i actually get few night pictures in there.  Another location I rarely get day pictures because of the pressure.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 06:23 PM

Clint easy solusion-Just read Marc’s post and don’t pay any attention to the rest. Just a thought.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/18 at 09:08 PM

Don Higgins

I have deleted almost all your comments on this thread. The give and take was entertaining for awhile. But no longer. Stop now. Stay on topic. No more name calling. It’s time for everyone to return to being adults.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 12/20 at 01:27 PM

I agree. i’m tired of the name calling. we’ve got a bunch of kids running around in an adult body.
Lets shape up-

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/20 at 02:27 PM

I’m new to this site and have enjoyed reading all the various posts on the deer herd in Illinois.  Time will tell but I agree that the reduction in hunting kills is alarming.  I understand the DNR wants the herd smaller but agree with the various posts on here—when is enough?  I hunt Starved Rock SP primarily and just completed my second full season with a bow.  I have been able to harvest a doe each year but have had to pass on several bucks because all of the “rules”.  I did see ALOT fewer deer this year in general, but I chalk it up most to the weather and the 100s of acres of corn still in.  I do think Starved Rock is overzealous in reducing the doe population.  I’m staying open minded—if next year the weather is better, the corn is out AND I’m still seeing fewer, I’m really going to start questioning their herd management tactics.

p.s. very interesting article on the growing concern in wisconsin over the deer herd there.  They’ve really gotten the politicans involved up there it seems.  I hope someone in Illinois starts to listen…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/20 at 03:04 PM


You couldn’t pay me enough to do your job.  Now you have to referee the forums…You have taken a stance on many topics which are not popular among our “readers” and get blasted from both sides.  I appreciate your efforts and straight talk about important and complex issues.  With that said, I am glad the Muzzleloading boys/girls had a good year.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 07:05 AM


Everybody I spoke with around here agrees that deer numbers are rising in our neck of the woods.  If anything, they need to be thinned out.  I think landowners should be allowed to use shotguns to kill deer starting October 1st?  And I don’t’ want to hear any crap about “safety”...that’s BS.  If it is OK to have everybody using shotguns in a compressed time frame, it would seem safer to spread it all out.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 11:51 AM

Part of the reason the muzzleloader harvest keeps going up is because nobody really uses muzzleloaders anymore.  If it’s not flint lock it’s not a muzzleloader.  In-line “muzzleloaders” are nothing but riffles.  Some states have even begun to ban them from true muzzleloader seasons, and I applaud them for this.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/04 at 01:29 PM

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