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KC's Corner

Late winter season cut again

Mon, August 31, 2015

IDNR announced the closure of 8 more counties from the late-winter antlerless seasons (LWS) in the 2015-16 deer hunting season.  Counties that will be newly closed this year are:


The number of counties open to the LWS now stands at 27.  This is down from roughly 70 counties just a few years ago.  A trend of herd reduction strategies, coupled with two years of EHD in 2012-13, has pushed many counties well below their population goal that was established by the Joint Deer Task Force and IDNR biologists in 2008.

Based on the latest deer-vehicle accident (DVA) data I have (2013), these new counties were below their population goals for the first time in 2013.  This tells me that preliminary data is indicating another year (2014) below the population goal for these counties.

IDOT has not made the final 2014 DVA data available as of August 31, 2015.

In addition, two counties have been added to the Special CWD Hunting Season in 2015, due to the detection of CWD-positive deer last year.  This now brings the total CWD counties to 14.

Click here for the link to the IDNR press release, which includes which counties are open for both the LWS and CWD seasons.

Quick edit….

It’s disappointing that the IDNR press release contains nothing about these counties being below their population goal.  And there’s no mention of the need to cut back on deer harvest.  And there’s no mention if any other permit numbers were decreased in all the firearm lotteries that have already taken place.

I just read another article online about the change to the LWS counties.  This writer suggested that hunters fill their already-issued permits early, since there would be fewer days to do it this year.  This is NOT the message that should be sent.  But without any kind of communication to cut back on harvest, this is what people will assume.

These counties have an average of a 32% herd reduction from their peak populations… and they average over 9% BELOW their target population (as of 2013).  The message that needs to get out is… the herd in these areas need to GROW.


I’ll be glad when LWS is gone in all counties.  Good to see a little progress though.  Thanks for the info KC

Posted by Andy Meador on August 31

Wayne county are you kidding me. Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder Hunt deer in Wayne county, and fill tags. I didn’t see that coming…......RRT

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on August 31

Im with andy, I say close them all!!!!

Posted by WhitetailFreak on August 31

@kevin - any details from the IWA meeting that was held at Sheel’s this past weekend?

Posted by buckbull on September 01

Seems like same old story. Same old rehired Chris Young with his BS press writings - Same old deer biologist - same old deer model - same old lagging DVA #s.  Hard to get excited about Rosenthal and his two big deer hunting changes (NR permits & youth permits)

Posted by BIGPOND on September 02

Ok, I have been giving this some thought, and have a question to raise with some of you. Any chance that the implantation of the LWS as by chance help lesson the spread of CWD through out the state? Any chance that bringing deer numbers down to low as possible might be a good move to help lesson the spread of CWD, or at least until you have a handle on it?
I am not saying that is what has been happening, or if what I mentioned above would even help. Just a thought is all. Every action has a reaction is all I am saying, and if this scenario I have mentioned above has had a positive effect, then what may the reaction be if we go back to the days of old?
I think most would have to agree that we are depending on DVA#s as sound science is a mistake. We need hardcore biologist doing field work with real numbers and real science. There have been a whole host of changes over the years that could effect the DVA#s, things like speed limits. How does raising the speed limit on a highway in certain counties effect deer populations? Do deer herds that are established near highways see a spike in DVAs, then a drop off after certain amount of time? Do these numbers within these highway areas level off?. A lot of variables to look at when tossing out DVA#s, and I am sure other people on this site could toss out many more.
I just think we need more than one or two people working on this, and we need hardcore science to tell the whole story. In the long run if it means certain counties have certain limits, then so be it, but I would hope that would be because of sound science, and not just because someone looked at some other agency’s numbers. I am not ready to replace the DNR with IDOT thank you….........RRT

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on September 03

RTT, The answer to your question on cwd is a resounding NO.  Prions are too complex to really do more than slow the spread what will happen will happen.  Imagine trying to control something that isnt really living.  Its not really dead and can lay on the ground or in the ground active for over a decade.  How do you stop that?  The major issue is how long it takes for our DNR to actually ACT with its current management practices.  Our herd in wayne if frankly shot to hell now.  Farms hid with EHD and that had high hunting pressure are pretty much deer free at this time.  And taking away LWS is like pissing on your house when its on fire.  If meaningful tag reduction on gun hunting isnt implemented and archery harvest totals arent brought down, the herd here will continue to plummet.

Posted by clintharvey on September 03

RTT, some good questions there.
We had a good discussion on some of this at the IL Whitetail Forum last Saturday.  The point I want to make with DVA’s is that it is a valid tool to track deer population.  It correlates well with hunter observation (it’s honestly been the best metric to prove our point of how far the herd is down in some areas)... and it trends nicely with deer harvest.  When we went through the EHD episodes, it trended perfectly with the decrease.  By itself, it’s not as effective as a tool… and it takes WAY too long to get the data and react accordingly.  Likewise… IDNR refuses to look much beyond DVA’s, so when things like EHD hits… they refuse to take it into account with the data.  If anything does get done, they wait for another year or two of data before making any kind of move.
Compare it to what happened in other states.  Even when others had more complex population models, herd estimates, etc… they were doing the same things IL was doing at the same time.  Herds were increasing.  States increased antlerless permits to bring herd levels down.  And then disease hit to push them over the edge below desired levels.  Every other state in the Midwest admits that populations are below desired levels.  IDNR simply says that some stakeholders still think there’s too many deer… and they refuse to do anything to increase the population back to desired (and agreed-upon) levels.
You’re correct… many outside factors can affect the DVA rate.  To add to your list… distracted drivers could increase it.  Un-mowed roadways can lead to more accidents.  But a lot of that would be hard to quantify.  Bottom line is… even without those other factors, the DVA rates in most counties are showing exactly the same thing hunters have been observing.
It’s not that the published DVA rates are lower than we think they are.  They are plenty low just as they are.  The problem is, the DVA’s are low… counties are below their AGREED-UPON population objectives… and nothing is being done to bring them back up.  We have no plan, and IDNR has no appetite, to do a single thing to increase deer herd anywhere, beyond the bare minimum of removing a county from the LWS.

Posted by Kevin C on September 03

Kevin, is DNR getting pressure from Farm Bureau, or the insurance lobby over any reductions in permits, or seasons? I know some in agriculture look at our deer herd more as a nuisance instead of a resource. Now I said some. Would this be the stakeholders you speak of Kevin ?

ClintHarvey, was on a well the other night in Wayne county. I had to wait on the herd of about 20 to cross the road before I got to the rig. LOL I know of places in Wayne county that have a lot of deer, but maybe I am just blessed. Look if the numbers say something needs done, then fine. I feel as Kevin, that hunters that wish to take a doe will do so now sooner in the season. I know a lot of people that used the LWS season to harvest a doe, and then used the regular season to hunt bucks, and if it got to cold they didn’t even hunt the LWS. Like Kevin said this just pushed hunters to harvest sooner.

Now I don’t say this to sound like a smart ass, but if a lower population would not help in controlling the spread of CWD, then why do we have that special CWD season, and the sharp shooters that have worked in those areas as well. Was that the wrong direction by the DNR ? Seems to me many of the actions taken dealing with CWD were just feel good knee jerk reactions, so someone could say they were doing something. Please correct me if I am wrong, because I am not a whitetail biologist, just an outdoorsmen that is out in the field. Thanks for the reply’s guys

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on September 10

I wonder how many hunters who purposely passed on taken a doe the last couple of years will continue to pass this year, I don’t hear much talk about that, probably a lot of hunters are in a wait and see mode, once they get out in the field.

Posted by BIGPOND on September 10

BigPond, I would hope that a lot of people have already been in the timber looking things over. Not long until the 1st of October. I know if I take a doe this year it will have to be mature. I have three does on the place I hunt, and they toss out twins is seems all the time. I like to keep them ladies around. I have a buck that is about five years old, and his was hurt as a yearling on his back leg. His rack in nasty looking, but he has gotten smart over the years, and has had large number of deer killed near him when he was younger. he has gave my daughter fits for about three years now, and even with the nasty rack he will be a trophy to her if she bags him. It just might be the year for old nasty…..RTT

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on September 10

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