A white-tailed deer.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters to make safety their top priority as they head to the field for the first segment of the Illinois Firearm Deer Season this weekend.
The seven-day firearm deer season in Illinois this year is Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7.
“Deer hunting is a time-honored Illinois tradition for thousands of sportsmen and women, and we want all hunters to be safety-conscious while enjoying our heritage,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said.
Illinois firearm deer season legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Hunters who are successful in taking a deer during the firearm season in most Illinois counties must register the deer they harvest either through the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/HarvestReporting.aspx or by phoning (866) IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). Hunters registering deer through the online or phone systems must do so by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer.
In 10 northern Illinois counties where chronic wasting disease has been detected in deer, hunters are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season by taking them to their county check stations (listed below) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Biologists will be present to take chronic wasting disease samples for testing at the time of registration. Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate. The counties where hunters are required to check-in their deer at check stations are:
• Boone: Boone Co. Fairgrounds; one-half mile north of Route 76 and Business Route 20, Belvidere
• DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Park; 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona
• Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park/I & M Canal Trail; 401 Ottawa St., Morris
• Jo Daviess: Elizabeth Community Building; 210 N. West St., Elizabeth: one-half mile west of business district on Highway 20, next to Highland C.C. Elizabeth campus
• Kane: Shabbona Lake State Park (De Kalb County); 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona
• La Salle: Buffalo Rock State Park; three miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road
• McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park; McHenry Dam Day Use Area, east of McHenry on River Road, 2.2 miles south of Route 120
• Ogle: Castle Rock State Park; Route 2, three miles south of Oregon
• Stephenson: Stephenson County Fairgrounds; 1 mile east of Route 26 and Fairgrounds Road, Freeport
• Winnebago: Rock Cut State Park; Loves Park, Route 173 entrance
Hunters participating in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer (listed by phone number) through the IDNR website. Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR. For more information on CWD in Illinois, check the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/Programs/CWD.
In addition to the seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season, other upcoming firearm hunting seasons include the three-day muzzleloader-only deer season on Dec. 12-14, and the seven-day split late-winter firearm antlerless-only deer season and special CWD deer season on Jan. 1-4 and Jan. 16-18. For more information on open counties and other details regarding the late-winter season, check the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/Late-WinterSHAHuntingPermitInformation.pdf.
In 2013, there were 27 hunting incidents reported in Illinois, and there have been 10 hunting incidents reported in the state so far during 2014.
Among the hunting incidents reported last year, 16 involved tree stand falls. When using a tree stand, hunters should make sure they are using a fall arrest system safety harness.
When hunting with a firearm, hunters should:
• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and never assume a firearm is unloaded;
• Always point a firearm in a safe direction;
• Be sure of the target, and make sure there are no other hunters, homes, buildings, vehicles or other animals beyond the target;
• Keep their finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.
Hunters are encouraged to consider those less fortunate and donate to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. The program allows hunters to donate whole deer for processing into venison that is provided to food banks and food pantries in local communities throughout the state. For more information on ISAH, click on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/ISAH.
For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations, check the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.