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Illinois deer harvest 3rd lowest since 1999

Tue, January 23, 2018

Crossbows appear to have made a significant difference in the Illinois archery season. Preliminary figures show Illinois bowhunters shot 58,156 deer in the 2017-18 season – 4,472 more than last year and the highest total since 59,805 deer in 2012-13.

Pike County led the state with 2,072 deer harvested, followed by: 2. Fulton 1,625; 3. Adams 1,275; 4. Williamson 1,173; and 5. Jackson 1,139.

That archery harvest, combined with the various firearm season, brings the overall kill total for the year to 147,535. That’s above last year’s total of 144,303, but ranks as the third-lowest overall harvest since 1999.

Here is a recap of deer seasons.

Youth – Youth deer hunters shot a preliminary total of 2,372 deer during the Oct. 7-9 Youth Deer Season, compared to 3,259 in 2016. Of those, 51.5 percent were bucks.

Top-five counties were Pike (115), Adams (90), Randolph (88), Jefferson (76) and Jackson (67).

Shotgun –  Hunters shot a preliminary total of 80,021 deer during the seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season that concluded on Dec. 3. That’s slightly above last year’s total of 79,559. The breakdown showed 51,365 deer shot Nov. 17-19 and 28,656 from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.

Top-five counties were Randolph (2,405), Jackson (2,303), Adams (2,179), Jefferson (2,083), Fulton (1,997), Pike (1,990), Fayette (1,544),  Franklin (1,350)

Muzzleloader – During the Dec. 8-10 Muzzleloader Deer Season , Illinois hunters shota preliminary total of 3,700 whitetails, compared to 3,308 in 2016. Of those, 45 percent were bucks. Top-five counties were Pike (168), Adams (120), Jefferson (112), Randolph (103) and Fulton (102).

Late-winter/CWD – Hunters shot a combined total of 3,505 deer for both late-winter/CWD seasons (Dec. 28-31 and Jan. 12-14), compared with a harvest of 4,696 in 2016-17. 

This year, 15 counties were open to the Special CWD Season, and 22 counties were open to Late Winter Deer Hunting.

Top five counties were JoDaviess (318), Perry (290), Fulton (269), Schuyler (205) and Brown (203).


So if Xguns hadn’t been allowed and that additional harvest didn’t happen, where would this season have ranked????

Posted by walmsley on January 24

There is a serious hunter participation issue where I live. No one is hunting. Don’t know if it’s lack of interest or land access but it’s definitely affecting harvest totals around here and the population is soaring. Where I saw 5 deer last winter. I’m seeing 25 to 30. And it’s happening on all my farms so it’s not just a local situation.

Posted by chrismaring on January 24

On the flip side, on the fields I use to see 25-30 deer 5 plus years ago, I only see a few there now.  Fields where I saw 5 last year maybe 8 to 10 this year., certainly not huge jump to 25 -30.  Yes it is rebounding partly because of taking all the hunting pressure off going on 5 years now.

Posted by BIGPOND on January 25

Chris, I must say you’re the first person I’ve heard make that statement in 15 years in this state! Is it due to Outfitter leasing?

Posted by walmsley on January 25

No outfitting nearby. Just small blocks of timber that used to have 4 or 5 hunters frequenting them. Land has changed hands, passed down or sold and there is usually one hunter using the resource or even none with some of the new landowners which makes it ideal for population growth. Honestly,  it’s the best hunting situation I’ve seen since the 90’s. I hope it continues but things will cycle around the same way as it has for the last 30 yrs.

Posted by chrismaring on January 25

Putting the whole increase of bow harvest upon crossbows alone is ridiculous. The fact is bow hunting has become very popular now, and for many good reasons. The season is longer, thus offering more opportunity for people to enjoy the outdoors. A longer season allows a hunter the privilege of being able to be selective. Hunters get to hunt in more ideal weather conditions. Bow tags are good state wide, unlike gun tags, this allows a hunter opportunity to try other locations anywhere within Illinois. The TV factor !! Every deer hunting show these day has hunters bow hunting.

Did crossbow increase the bow harvest numbers ?? Maybe some, but there are far more factors pushing the bow hunting numbers up than just crossbows, and the general acceptance of bow hunting I feel is a far bigger factor.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on January 25

I agree with you RTT. I see just as many archers now as I do firearm hunters. Times are changing hunters are putting more emphasis on bow season due the convenience of a long season.

Posted by chrismaring on January 25

When you harvest a deer in archery season it asks what type of bow. so why aren’t they releasing the crossbow figures ?

Posted by Buck-Man on January 25

BUCK-MAN, they did release some numbers earlier in the season… maybe mid-November.  I think it was right around 29% of the archery harvest that was attributed to crossbows.  And of those, I think like 12% (Jeff’s quote from an earlier HO article) were from hunters who had never bought an archery permit before this year.
RTT, crossbows absolutely drove archery numbers up.  Period.  Sure, archery gives you many more advantages.  But everything you mentioned has been there for years.  Longer seasons.  Etc.  The bigger question is did crossbows drive up the TOTAL harvest, and I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer to that.  A lot of hunters are multi-season hunters… I get it… it doesn’t mean that they’ll shoot more deer because of a new weapon.  They still have the same size freezer! But it certainly makes it easier during that 110 day season.  And now we’re starting to see the fruits of IDNR’s liberal seasons again… and now they are proposing to cut back on the archery season in some counties next year.
On a side note… 2016 DVA rates still not officially released.  Not last year’s.  2016.  We’ve been through one season and another planning period approaching… and we’re working with 2 year old data (maybe that’s planned???).  Preliminary statewide DVA rates for 2016 show the population at the lowest it’s been since DVA’s were tracked.  Down 26% from the peak statewide (remember the “14%” target???).  And they allowed new weapons and new seasons in the last few years… while the deer population is the lowest it’s been.

Posted by Kevin C on January 26

so Kevin, It’s safe to say that had it not been for the total season introduction of Xguns, 2017 harvest numbers would have been one of the lowest ever-

they’re running out of weapons/seasons! “MAYBE”

Posted by walmsley on January 26

Their are more hunter in archery season because the liberals have let the gun hunters have a 100+ day season with their X-bows !
Archery harvest has been climbing the last few years because of more hunters with more powerful AND accurate weapons! NOT because their are more deer….
Our greedy IDNR heads simply wants more deer tags sold, the deer population to continue to go down more, more Pittman Robertson $$$$$ to come in & their paychecks to be bigger….
X-bows for all, is helping them PERFECTLY.

Posted by Lynn on January 26

Since all the newfound Xbow hunters maybe killing to many deer in places that have to few deer already, our IDNR is thinking of implementing ‘buck only’ harvest on ALL archery hunter (first 1/2 Oct), in those counties ???
Real bowhunters are going to get screwed over for the want a bees….
We warned everyone this would probably happen…..

Posted by Lynn on January 26

Agree with Lynn and a few other but man was I off .. on one of my other posts I stated that the bow kill numbers would go up next and the year after when word got out for using Xguns for the entire bow season man was I wrong…But here’s a store from one of the sales guy in my company only talk to him once in awhile .He hunts down south with some guys for shotgun season never picked up a bow or talked about till this year and mentioned he had a found a small piece of ground to hunt by his house.Well mid December I run into him and ask how his season when ,he tells me they got 3 down south which is about norm for there party then said he got 2 with his bow…I said hole **** that’s great for first time with a bow then he tells my he missed a doe the first shot at 40 yard cause he was using the 30 mark in his scope reloaded used the 40 yard mark and nailed it.At this time I said you got scope on you bow then he proceed to tell me it was a cross bow ...then said a small buck came out after the doe ran off around 30 yards or so and reloaded and shot him to ..Long story short he never would have done this if not for a scope and a trigger .

Posted by Mazakbill on January 26

Mazakbill… how they start talking about their ‘bowkill’ but fail to tell people it was a xbow kill, till they get asked….
Most also fail to put here xbow, in their kill pics too.


Posted by Lynn on January 26

Bow hunting’s popularity has grown in leaps and bounds over the last several years, that is a hardcore fact. Crossbows are just another tool for hunters to utilize, no different than when compound bows made their introduction to the outdoors. Crossbows are not the problem people, the 600# gorilla in the room is not having a state wide limit for whitetail deer.

The limit is now based upon the number of permits a hunter may purchase, fine purchase all the permits you want, but if your only allowed to take two deer a year per person by any means of legal take, then the whole permit boondoggle the IDNR has orchestrated would no longer be a factor. A hunter would still purchase the permits according to method of take, archery, gun, muzzleloader, with their respected seasons, but the two deer limit would apply overall.

Lynn, it is very clear of your dislike of crossbows, and I’m sure the traditional archers felt the same when lots of the archery gear that many use today hit the field. Funny how as time moves forward we forget when the shoe is placed upon the other persons foot. As a trapper I have been the brunt of a lot of criticism over the years by other sportsmen, many saying that trapping was not fair chase, or they didn’t like the idea of trapping as a whole, so don’t look for me to jump on the anti crossbow band wagon. I have come to learn over the years it’s not the tools we use, but rather the management process of the species overall that by far more important of an issue. I have no desire, nor do I see anything positive in criticizing a fellow sportsmen/women upon their method of take, especially when that method is now legal within our state. That approach I feel only drives a wedge between people, and the only people we help when that takes place is those that oppose our very own hunting heritage. No thank you. 

Don’t look for the IDNR to love such an idea, that is because I feel a culture exists within the IDNR that is more focused upon giving people an opportunity to hunt, rather that giving a person an opportunity at success. The two are very different, and one is by far more financially lucrative, and that is what I feel is behind many aspects of managing our whitetail deer herd today. I feel deer hunters if they really wish to make changes they are going to have to force this issue forward themselves, and yes its not easy, but not impossible either.



Posted by Ringtailtrapper on January 28

Right on RTT, the IDNR is all about opportunity at the expense of management.

Posted by BIGPOND on January 29

Perhaps with Paul Shelton’s promotion, his replacement will have a different view on how to manage the deer herd.

Posted by buckbull on January 29

RTT, just to clarify… bowhunting in IL is not “growing by leaps and bounds”...
Total archery permits down 7% since peak in 2009 (26,000 permits).
Resident permits down 5% since peak in 2012 (16,000 permits).
NR permits down 23% since peak in 2008 (9,000 permits).
All categories of unlimited archery permits are consistently down every single year since their peak just in the last few years (based on the latest permit data from 2016).  My guess is that “trend” will stop in 2017 with the addition of crossbows in the full season.
The big difference between crossbows now, and “modern” bows when they hit the market… deer hunters back then were limited to either gun hunting or bowhunting.  There was still a way to limit the harvest back then.  Same with the new proposed “5-county” area now… does anyone really think that fewer does will be shot in 100 days instead of the whole 115 days… with more advanced bows and now crossbows in the entire season?  We can’t keep expecting to use the same old management practices today that they did 20-30 years ago.  IDNR is talking out of both sides of its mouth with this proposal.

Posted by Kevin C on January 29

Thanks for the data Kevin C Your guess is right with the Trend stopping .I have no issues with xbows being used be have a issue when they are used I was hoping if they allowed it it would be at the start of the first shotgun season and after seeing how it gets a lot more challenging to get deer after that. I wonder how many people would try xbow hunting after the rut was more or less over ???.Ringtailtrapper,it’s not that much easier to hold a compound at full draw then a stick bow in may experience I have used both,but I do agree with permit limits to some degree. Regards  

Posted by Mazakbill on January 29

Until the outdoorsmen and women of Illinois can put together a voice that is louder than the farm bureau and insurance companies we will not be heard.  Even our local politicians take their orders from those who fund their campaign.  They will run the resources dry until nothing is left then move on to the next. 

Kevin C, Keep up the good work.  If more people could see your facts and research I believe it would be easier to unite the voices needed to try to make a difference.  We cant sit and wait for our elected officials to do what we ask.  The squeaky wheel needs to get louder.

Posted by RBBH on January 30

Kevin, the decline in permits has been throughout all categories has it not ?? If so then could it be said that we are looking at an overall decline in hunting participation ??
Also if the number of archery permits issued have declined that much, then would that decline offset any increase that crossbows might offer??

What about overall success rates for archery hunters, what percent of archery hunters are actually successful, and on average how many permits do archery hunters purchase ?? A decline in permits for residents of 5% could be just a few hunters just purchased one permit instead of two, many on this very site has admitted to purchasing fewer permits, so that mindset my very well be reflected in the numbers seen. The NR permit decline is not surprising either, this happens all the time with NR, they are now off to the next promoted magical land of unicorns, and whooper bucks.

Kevin, I don’t think you can just look at the permits sold and say bow hunting is in decline, nope I don’t agree with that approach, just more into the mix than number of permits sold. Bow hunting has also spilled over to turkey, and how about people bow fishing today ?? Way more than many realize, at least down state. Bow hunting is far form one dimensional, and crossbows are just another tool in that mix.

With all that said, just when are we going to get our two deer per year limit, and put all the BS to bed ?? Why beat up one another, and fight for something that will be beneficial for all outdoorsmen/women ??


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on January 30

That is a lot of ??‘s…..but little facts or answers.

How about some facts….

Permits sales have dropped because deer population have been slashed statewide.

Hunter success rates have also dropped like a rock.

A LOT of hunters, who have no deer to hunt, will quit hunting!

Continually expanding hunting season AND creating seasons with more effective weapons on an animal that is already well below statewide goals, will ONLY further decimate the resource.

Follow the $$$$..... the insurance company are happy, the FB are happy, the Archery Trade Association (ATA) are happy, the NRA is happy… Rosenthal & company are HAPPY and the IL deer herd gets screwed !

RBBH…..You have a pretty good grasp of what is actually going on here !!!

I wish more people could see the facts, see through the smoke & mirrors and not be hood winked by the money grubbers…..

Posted by Lynn on January 30

I thank you guys for starting some talk about the ever ending problem with the DNR. Up where I hunt it is bad. Between CWD and late seasons the hunters are getting very disappointed. I know some hunters didn’t hunt much or at all. Unfortunatly I see the kill ratio going up because a lot of hunters are going to switch to Xbows. PLEASE keep this subject going because some people just don’t get it. I know every area is different but if you are seeing 1990 or early herds….LET THE DOES WALKED SO THE HERD WILL GROW….because the DNR won’t. Thanks again.

Posted by deer1 on January 31

Lynn, for far to long our wildlife has been managed from an office, and the days of actual boots on the ground are truly need more now than ever. I feel if the DNR had more staff afield doing actual whitetail studies throughout the whole state, then me might see a totally different picture, or better yet have an idea of what is actually going on with the herd. Your right Lynn, that is a lot of questions, and I’m not saying I have the answers, but I do think things need looked into far deeper than just permits sales, and DVA rates. Hunter particapation trends, just how many permits each hunter is actually purchasing ?? If fewer permits are sold per hunter, then what is the contributing factor. Questions that need to be asked to actually know for sure, and the answers very well could back up the numbers related to permit sales, and DVA reports, but without research you will never know for sure. I personaly would like to know for sure, becuase if this herd goes, then I’m sure I might not ever see deer again in Illinois at my age. I remember those times Lynn, and I don’t care for a return to those days.



Posted by Ringtailtrapper on January 31

I have my doubts of the validity of the use of DVA rates.  If it were used to make any decisions, they would have those numbers available in a timely manner.  Also,  Who would they get their numbers from?  I’m guessing its the very insurance companies that would like zero deer, include the crop damage claims from the FB and we don’t have a chance.  RTT has a point, boots on the ground give more accurate and up to date numbers.
The special interests at the top of the political food chain is damaging our resources to benefit their bottom line, while decreasing the overall economic benefit to the entire state and its taxpayers.
Typical in today’s political world.

Posted by RBBH on February 01

DVAs come from IDOT.

Posted by buckbull on February 01

Where does IDOT get them from?

Posted by RBBH on February 01

I bet State Farm has their own YTD DVA’s immediately in January. DNR from IDOT - IDOT from what state police or where ever, thus 2 year lag time which by government bureaucracy standards seems normal or acceptable by DNR staffers.

Posted by BIGPOND on February 01

I ask because I honestly dont know.  I know that certain entities dont keep track of the deer that get picked up.  If idot has to get their numbers from the ISP, the process could take a while putting it all together.  I dont know how accurate that number would be because ISP doesnt handle all the DVA’s that happen.  It makes me think that some of the numbers have to come from the insurance companies….which have a large interest in the outcome.  Just some thoughts.

Posted by RBBH on February 01

RBBH… by law, any accident over $1500 requires an accident report to be filed.  That’s where the data comes from.  It’s not the TOTAL number of DVA’s per se, but it’s a static, measurable metric for the number of DVA’s required by law to be reported.  One could probably argue that inflation could cause more accidents to meet that dollar threshold over a long period of time (since it keeps costing more to repair newer cars).
Also… it’s the RATE of accidents per billion miles driven that is used, not just the total number of accidents.  This also helps to exclude the impact of counties with more traffic.  So… the number of accidents could go up year over year, but if the miles driven goes up as well… then the rate could go down.  It actually makes some sense.
I know people hate the DVA metric, but honestly… it tells the story that hunters are wanting heard.  The DVA rates are down drastically.  I have preliminary data by county, and the numbers for 2016 are actually quite surprising.  At least they were to me.  It shows another substantial drop in DVA’s (lowest rate since 1998) ... and thus, deer populations.  There are 17 counties that have been reduced more than 50% from their peak DVA rates.  And some REALLY BIG names on that list.  That’s total BS.  In the past, when I looked at the list… the top reduction counties (like 8 of the top 10) were always the CWD counties with all the expanded seasons and sharpshooting.  Now… 12 of the 17 counties over 50% are NOT CWD areas.  That’s ridiculous.
I’ll try to put some data together and maybe write a blog post here about it over the weekend.

Posted by Kevin C on February 01

Thanks Kevin.  That explains a lot.  Please keep up the good work!  I hope one day the right people will listen to what you have to say.

Posted by RBBH on February 01

I find it hard to believe that any of the insurance companies are willing to wait for IDOT to provide them data from 2 years ago.  I suspect they probably get it much faster than IDNR.

With the stakes that companies like State Farm have in this situation, you think they would tolerate that nonsense?

Posted by bw on February 02

I would also like to mention that with less deer in a area means less food for the predators.  In the area that we are hunting we didn’t see any fawns this year.  We have came to the conclusion that this is a result of the coyotes.  With declining deer numbers there will be less fawns and even fewer do to the predators.  Add this to the list of complaints to limitless permits and expanded opportunities to kill more deer.  The Xbow army is real and trust me has added to the numbers.  I went to a outdoor auction a few months back that had tons of bows and Xbows.  The Xbows were the hot item that brought the most money so what does that tell us!!

Posted by muzzyman on February 02

BW, insurance companies don’t need to wait on any data from IDOT.  They know how many accidents they paid claims on.  They already have that data.  And they pay claims on all accidents… not just the ones over $1500.  It sucks to wait two years on data from IDOT, but it beats letting the private insurance companies provide their own data for management decisions.
If you want to look at the trends with private insurance companies… I think State Farm puts out data.  The drop in the total number of accidents trends pretty well with IDOT data measured in DVA rates.  I’ve looked at it before.  State Farm rank all 50 states from top to bottom in terms of “odds” of hitting a deer based on the number of drivers in a state.  Don’t remember the exact numbers… but IL has dropped from Top Ten to like 26th on the list now.  Every Midwestern state around us is in a higher category.  We’re actually a “low risk” state compared to many others.

Posted by Kevin C on February 02

The insurance companies in IL are happy with the IL deer herd plummeting.
The FB is happy with less & less IL deer to eating crops.
The NRA is happy with their gun hunters now having a 100+ day deer season in IL.
The Archery Trade Association (ATA) is happy with thousands & thousands of xbows being sold in IL now.
NONE of these national orgs. care about the IL deer herd plummeting in IL.
It is all about making $$$$$$$$$ now !!!
Our IDNR is all about making $$$$$$$ now AND their political hacks campaigns getting supported by the big $$$$$$$$$ orgs. & companies.
The IL deer herd & IL deer hunters are screwed….

Posted by Lynn on February 03

Rosenthal & company have done nothing but augmented this proccess, just like Miller did….
I have seen no one, who has any real say & WORKS for our IDNR, do anything to help our IL deerherd in quiet some time…..
Rather pathetic isn’t it ????
Can anyone name ANYTHING new, in the last 5yrs or even 10 yrs that helped our IL deer ????
Think about it….when was the last new action, that helped to kill less deer in IL ???

Posted by Lynn on February 03

The IDNR for the last two decades has been robbed, plundered, and pillaged to the point of inability like never before in our states history. Hard to do much when someone always has their hands in your back pocket, and honestly it is effecting all species of wildlife within our state, not just our deer herd.
The lack of understanding by 99% of our legislators is because they are so far removed from our type of lifestyle, that its almost impossible for them comprehend funding anything we support. This is also a problem with people we are trying to recruit as outdoorsmen/women, they just have no idea, or understanding of what we enjoy, and most are left bewildered as to what we are all about. Sad that we as a people have forgotten the very things that brought us as a society to this very point. Take this, and add a mix of political BS, then you have the perfect scenario for what we have today.
Sometimes I think this has been done all by design, with the attempt to completely defund the DNR, and absorb the DNR into another agency, just like some other states have done. This I feel has been an all out assault upon sportsmen/women, and a way to suppress those involved in the wildlife management process that actually know how to manage our resources correctly. Some people don’t even need a knife to skin a cat, because a vote on way, or the other will do the same job.
The collective of many things has led us to this point, but what now ?? Are we as sportsmen/women at blame to some degree ? Do we not come to the DNR every year asking, or demanding more all the time ?? Maybe its just me, but it seems like some group is always pushing for some change, or new rule, so are we part of the problem ?? When does all our input, and involvement become a distraction ?? At what point do people quit listening, and just cave in, or do nothing ?? are we at that point ??
I know more questions, and many I’m sure we will ever have an answer for, but the fact that our DNR has been a train wreck for the last two decades is indisputable, and to continually trying to work with an agency in this shape is counter productive for sportsmen/women.
Lynn, surprised ? We actually agree on more than you realize. LOL    

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 03

I guess I’ll bite Lynn.  IDNR instituted the 2 buck rule within the last 10 years (I think).  Anyway, that’s the last major pro deer herd thing I can remember.

Posted by buckbull on February 05

Pretty sure the 2 buck limit was more like 20yrs ago or more.
I know the first time I killed 2 good buck was in 1999 & the limit was in place then.

Maybe Walmsley or Kevin can give the exact yr it became law ??

Posted by Lynn on February 05


Posted by Kevin C on February 05

RTT, I don’t disagree with most of your post… but I’m really tired of using the funding issue as an excuse for everything wrong with IDNR.  They made the decision 10 years ago to use DVA data to manage the deer herd.  That doesn’t cost a dime.  They were dishonest with the goals from the beginning, and they chose to not abide by the “rules” they laid out in front of the JDTF.  It doesn’t take money to be honest.  And it doesn’t take money to implement changes that would benefit the deer herd.  Even the IWA proposal was developed to be “revenue neutral” to IDNR.  The whole “being broke” argument just doesn’t work with everything.

Posted by Kevin C on February 05

Oh duh Kevin!!!!  I’m not sure why that went over my head with Insurance companies not needing IDOT numbers.

Maybe DOZRDEER could chime in here and justify why they wait to make decisions based on 2yr old data. Especially when you just pointed out that State Farm makes some of their trending information public.  So they wouldn’t have to ask them for their numbers, knowing they would doctor them in favor of the Insurance companies interests.

While I’m not opposed to crossbow hunting, I am opposed to IDNRs deer management practices.  And have pointed out before that it’s basically up to us to manage what we hunt now.  Groups like IWA are essential for educating the public to get more hunters on board with ideas to maintain a reasonable herd.

We obviously have to do it ourselves whether we like it or not. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Posted by bw on February 06

Yikes.  20 years ago.  I’m getting old and forgetful.  Kinda pathetic that the last thing I remember that IDNR did to protect the herd was that long ago.  I know the CWD zones are confrontational but I guess that action could be considered helping the deer herd.

Posted by buckbull on February 07

Kevin, I get sick of hearing about the lack of funding as well, but what was the real catastrophe of the destruction of the DNR funding was the personal that was lost in the process. How many years of professional wildlife experience was lost over this time ? Hard to replace those individuals, even if funding was restored to original levels. Good people just up and left, or retired, or exercised other options they had, just because they were unsure of what the future held with IDNR. I guess on some levels we shouldn’t be surprised with what we have left to work with.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 08

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