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By BETH ZUMWALT
Firearm deer hunting season has come and gone in Illinois and the numbers show a decrease both in west central Illinois and state wide. Illinois Department of Natural Resources has released the firearms numbers for both seasons.
State-wide deer hunters harvested 77, 160 deer during firearm season in 2020. This year the number for both the Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 weekend seasons was 71, 675. Muzzle-loader only deer season was Dec.10-12 and those numbers are not yet available from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Nor are numbers available for archery season which ends Jan. 20, 2022. Some counties are available for late winter deer season but Pike and Scott are not among them. in this area, only Brown,
McDonough, Schuyler are included in the anter-less only and CWD hunting season, aimed at controlling the deer population and Chronic Wasting Disease, prominent in some deer herds.
Levi Ladner, a local hunter and taxidermist,says the lower numbers are not surprising to him or many others.
“Our numbers are down nearly 70 percent of where they were in 2005,” he said.”If this keeps on there will be no more deer.”
Ladner says it’s not just the deer population but overall hunting in Pike County is nearly extinct.
“The deer population is way down, few turkeys, few quail, no rabbits and few incentives for waterfowl hunters,” he said. “On deer hunting everything is in favor of the hunter, camera, food plots,( you can’t bait, but, you can leave 10 acres of unharvested grain).
Ladner said the predator population is out of control and nuisance permits allowing landowners to kill as many deer as possible for eating $1,000 worth of crops when they are making $50,000 from leasing land for hunting, yet the numbers continue to fall.
Ladner says the out-of-area hunting is the main reason for the decline.
“Other counties have not seen the decline we have,” Ladner said. “ Ninety percent of all hunters in Pike County are non-resident hunters.”
Ladner said the success rate of hunters is determined by the dividing the number of tags sold into the number of successful hunters. Pike’s is low.
“Other counties are killing the same number of deer with fewer tags sold,” Ladner said.
Tim Krumweide, of the Pittsfield Illinois Department of Natural Resouces says he acknowledges the numbers were down, but, thinks the number of permits sold is also down.
“I’ve not seen anything official yet, but I have had people tell me there were fewer hunters in the woods during firearm season and others that say they didn’t hear the shots like they usually do,” Krumweide said.
Krumweide also said he thinks the archery numbers will be up once the season is over.
“Cross -bow hunting is now legal and I think a lot of people switched to cross-bowing hunting,” he said. “I think the archery numbers will be as good as ever.”