According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the 2020 Illinois deer hunting harvest is up slightly from 2019. There are still a couple of late season firearm hunts, and archery season ends in January, but here are some preliminary numbers…
Firearm Harvest Results
A preliminary total of 76,579 deer were taken by hunters during the seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season, slightly higher than 75,417 deer harvested in 2019. The preliminary harvest for the first segment of this year’s firearm season (Nov. 20-22) was 47,147 deer, down from 50,241 for the same period in 2019. The preliminary harvest for the second segment of the firearm season (Dec. 3-6) was 29,432, compared with 25,176 during the second season in 2019.
Muzzleloader Harvest Results
During the 2020 Illinois Muzzleloader-Only Deer season (December 11-13), hunters harvested a preliminary total of 3,447 deer, compared to 3,076 in 2019. The preliminary harvest total consisted of 43% males and 57% females (1,469:1,978).
Preliminary Archery Harvest Results
Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 59,815 deer, compared to 55,079 for the same period in 2019. These are based on numbers provided by the IDNR as of November 11, 2020. As of November 19, harvest has consisted of 58% males and 42% females (34,417:25,398).
I personally noticed a decrease in the number of big bucks seen, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. I saw a good amount of does and small bucks during firearm season, but did not see as many mature whitetails compared to last year. And most hunters I talked to noticed the same. Unseasonably warm temperatures, and plenty of standing corn are two factors that could have accounted to decreased big buck sightings. I also think that mature breeding bucks were locked down with does during the firearm seasons. In Illinois, big mature whitetails will stay with a doe in heat for up to 72 hours or until he breeds her, which decreases the amount of time he is actively searching for another doe. This decreases the chance of being seen during daylight hours. In addition, the second half of the firearm season fell on a near-full moon. And based on personal experience, I typically see fewer deer during this phase.
Stay tuned for a comprehensive breakdown of the final harvest numbers after the season.