Daytime highs in the 80s mean deer have been quiet. But as the days cool off, hunters should have more luck.
Warm temperatures have kept archery deer hunting cool.
To get a sense of how the archery deer-hunting season is going, look no further than your own closet or attic.
It’s OK to admit that you packed away the summer clothes prematurely and broke out the sweatshirts, long sleeves and other cool-weather gear. But unlike the deer roaming the woods, you can just climb the stairs to the attic and change into something more comfortable.
“Imagine moving around in a fur coat with temperatures in the mid-80s,” says Darrin Brauer, owner of Two Bears Custom Archery in Springfield.
Archery deer hunting season opened Oct. 1.
From what Brauer has seen in the woods and reports from his customers, warm weather has the season off to a slow start.
“There have been a few nice deer killed, but I think it has not been that busy,” said Brauer. “The high heat has caused some movement to slow down.”
So far, archery deer hunters statewide have killed just shy of 10,000 deer. Those figures were current as of Oct. 13.
Last year, Illinois archery deer hunters killed a total of 64,864.
Brauer says the deer are out there, but are restricting their movement to very early or very late in the day, pushing the limits of legal shooting hours.
Hunters can take deer from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
“I have a couple of buddies who got a couple of nice deer on video,” Brauer said. “It’s going to help having the crops out.”
Last year, hunters complained because a late harvest meant much of the corn crop remained in the fields during the hunting season, providing additional cover.
“Corn fields are almost like timber for a deer,” Brauer said. “It is a great hiding spot because they can get in there and not have to come out.”
Brauer says a lot of archery hunters sat out last weekend due to the warm temperatures and the youth hunt. Dads left their own gear at home and helped their kids instead.
“I didn’t go out basically because it was so hot and there were a lot of fathers out with their children who weren’t bow hunting,” Brauer said.
But forecasted cooler temperatures are lifting hunters’ spirits.
“I’m hoping if it cools down this weekend, some things will change and the deer will start to move,” Brauer said.
Brauer says deer hunting isn’t the only thing that has cooled off. An economy parked in recession has slowed business a bit, with hunters keeping gear and repairing it instead of buying new.
But like a good hunter, a good business operator finds quarry no matter how challenging the conditions.
“It has not been as busy as normal,” Brauer said. “But it’s been enough to keep us busy, and like anything else, everyone waits until the last minute.”
Brauer says he was in the shop from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day the week before the season opening, “just to be sure everybody else could get out and go.”
Due to technical difficulties, some participants in the Illinois youth deer hunt held Oct. 9-10 may not have been able to register their deer harvest.
The problem, which affected only the youth hunt, has been corrected. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources encourages those who had problems to register as soon as possible.
Hunters can register their deer harvest without penalty at www.dnr.illinois.gov or by calling toll-free at 866-452-4325.
As usual, Pike County leads the pack by a wide margin, with 400 deer killed.
Peoria County is in second place with 228. Fulton County is next at 261, followed by Jefferson at 217 and LaSalle at 200. Marion County hunters have killed 198 deer so far.
Sangamon County hunters have tallied 116.
Archery deer harvest totals by year2009-10 — 64,864 2008-09 — 64,955 2007-08 — 64,260 2006-07 — 65,179 2005-06 — 66,582 2004-05 — 63,639 2003-04 — 57,802 2002-03 — 51,660 2001-02 — 47,509 2000-01 — 42,886 1999-00 — 41,254 1998-99 — 36,280 1997-98 — 36,763 1996-97 — 35,259 1995-96 — 34,491