IL deer herd still not rebounding....

Discussion in 'Midwest' started by FredBear, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    Looking over numerous Facebook sites/forums like this one and all the comments on them and consensus seems to be that once again there was very little shooting during first gun season. Always potential for more than one reason as to why that is but one that seems to get downplayed by most hunters I talk to is just the simple fact that the herd quantity and quality is still significantly lower than what it was in the 2000s through about 2012. Seems to be an overall lack of awareness of the following numbers that I selected from a handful of counties once known to be some of the best on the planet.....

    Pike county has 57% less than deer than in 2007. That’s a staggering figure.
    Brown has 35% less
    Adams 45% less
    Fulton 24% less
    Schuyler 35% less
    Hancock 38% less
    McDonough 25% less

    These figures are based on the number of deer vehicle accidents in 2019 compared to 2007. Same metric the DNR uses to gauge population trends by county and one that I think is very good/representative. Takes everyone’s opinions out of the equation (“I saw plenty of deer” vs those saying “what’s going on w the rut, not seeing anything”). We’ve not shot any does on the farm I hunt in 7 years now. Not because I’m against the idea of shooting does and keeping the herd balance healthy, but simply because as these statistics show the herd numbers don’t justify it.

    Spread this information as much as you can. Like I said I don’t think most hunters are aware of them and it starts with awareness.
     
  2. Vabowman

    Vabowman Grizzled Veteran

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    well, it's the same here in VA...there was a massive push nationwide to decrease the numbers. from about 2000 to 2012. and they did it.
     
  3. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    They sure did. Can’t speak for Virginia but in IL I could certainly see the farmers and auto insurance industry wanting the herd reduced from their peak levels back in the 2000s and as much as it would’ve pained me I could’ve seen a 10-14% reduction target to keep all stake holders happy. But when you talk about a lot of those counties that used to be some of the best on the planet now being 30, 40, even 60% lower..... that’s just criminal. Such a shame.
     
  4. jstephens61

    jstephens61 Weekend Warrior

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    Most of the counties you listed have been hit hard by out of state hunters. Several outfitters.
    The areas around me and actually over carrying capacity. Average seeing 30-45 deer every time I go out. May not be from the stand but combined with the drive in and out. This year, I’m averaging 13 deer per day from the stand. That’s down from the ‘80s and ‘90s but not much.
    When you bring in dozens of hunters looking for a “booner” it’s bound to have an effect on the herd.
     
  5. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    Sounds as though you’ve got it better than most jstephens61 and I’m genuinely happy for you and at the possibility that there are still some areas that are very similar to the “golden years” out there. And I agree w ya that the outfitting and basically unlimited non resident tags was one of the main factors in the reduction. I am suprised that many of those outfitters haven’t adjusted their doe harvest (and maybe they have, my perception is that they’ve not). I would think that even by bringing in dozens of hunters looking for a booner that that alone could never produce a 30-60% herd reduction. Bout the only way of doing that is to aggressively over harvest does imo (in addition to severe ehd outbreaks on top of it). Out of curiosity what county(s) do you hunt? I’d be curious to see if the DVA data would line up with your experience/observation.
     
  6. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

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    is it?
    How many mature deer reach anything close to 'Booner' status?
    until this season, hunter numbers nationally have been dropping pretty significantly.
    None of the stats cited earlier in this thread included actual harvest numbers.
     
  7. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    I could get the actual harvest numbers and post them but I follow that fairly closely too and it’s been down around 30% as well.
    Personally I don’t feel as though the harvest number, even though it does reflect a significant decline as well, is as indicative of overall herd numbers as the DVA data is. For simple illustration purposes let’s say there are 200,000 hunters. Let’s say ten years ago there was one million deer and the deer hunters each harvested their deer, 200,000 were killed and everyone is happy. Now let’s say that herd levels get reduced by 50% to 500,000 deer. Those same 200,000 hunters in theory could still kill 200,000 deer and everyone’s “happy” without really recognizing just how much worse things truly got because they still got their deer.
    When I talk with fellow hunters this is kinda of the vibe I get and what I attribute the apathy too. I try to gently ask why they are still killing does, or at least multiple does, and the response is typically something along the lines of because they saw 7 of them why not? And to jstephens61 point, there are definitely far less booners being taken today than in that 2000-2012 range. Both quality and quantity have gone down significantly in the majority of the state.
     
  8. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

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    Granted I live north of I-80 so my opinion doesn't count much, but is IL really the destination hunt it used to be?
    NR tag and lease prices are ridiculous and when you compare IN, OH, KY, and MOs scores and access; IL is a lot less attractive to a NR hunter than it was 20 years ago.

    I would think DNR controlled kills and EHD has had a lot more to do with herd reduction than outfitters and NRs.
     
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  9. trial153

    trial153 Grizzled Veteran

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    Herd reduction allows for significant opportunity for woody browse and native grass/Forbs regeneration. Both of which have taken a serious beating with the record deer number that whitetail have maintained for too long across much of their range.
    30% reduction to see long term habitat and ecological improvements seems like a more than fair trade off. So instead of seeing 10 deer you seen 7...
    Hunters need to step outside their boxs and recognize that the ecological health of our landscape is multifaceted.
     
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  10. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    Completely agree with every point you make. Definitely not even close to the destination hunt it used to be. Like I mentioned the quality and quantity is way down relative to the 10-12 year stretch I mentioned. Spot on about EHD, controlled kills, and pretty much unlimited number of doe tags = far worse hunting today.
     
  11. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    I’ve heard this point mentioned in discussions before but what I’ve never bought in to is that for the 12 year stretch in IL that were the “golden years” the deer herd by almost every metric was as healthy as any herd on the planet. So I’ve never fully understood how that could be true while at the same time like you’re suggesting that the ecosystem/habitat was somehow suffering. If that were true the herd would suffer along with it and I just never saw evidence of that. I mean in most Midwest states I don’t know that a deer has ever died from starvation. I’m not a biologist but I firmly believe that the land can easily sustain the deer numbers that existed during those golden years.
    Maybe we can’t go back to those levels bc farmers and auto insurance companies have a say in it as well and rightfully so, but to reduce the resource by 30-60% is completely unfair to the hunting community imo. 10% sure. Maybe 15%? Ok.
     
  12. Vabowman

    Vabowman Grizzled Veteran

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    in VA we kill between 190,000-210,000 each year.. back in the 2000s we were killing 250,000. We still have unlimited doe tags in most of eastern and northern VA. So here is the run down. When I buy a license, I get six deer tags. 3 of them are either sex. and 3 are antlerless only. so we can kill 3 bucks and 3 does or 6 does, or whatever. but no more than 3 bucks. Now, we then can buy bonus antlerless tags which come in 6 tags. we can buy as many as we want until the season is done. so I guy could kill his 3 bucks, and then as many does as he wants for an entire season. This is the eastern part of the state and for specifically, southeastern. Farm country, more urban development coming so they it's a mix of reasons. Hell in my county, we have an early archery season from Spet 1-Oct1 then again from Jan 5 to March 31!! only antlerless deer though... deer numbers are still staggering in this area, but it has been reduced over the past 5 years.
     
  13. FredBear

    FredBear Newb

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    Wow, 3 bucks and unlimited does....don’t tell the IL DNR that lol! That’s an aggressive harvest strategy for sure. Wonder if there’s anywhere else in whitetail range with those tag allocations?
    End of the day too, I’m totally unfamiliar with VA and the different dynamics that are in play. I’ve always thought that in areas in IL that have bigger cities/human population that the DNR could allow for a more aggressive harvest. As you get out in to more rural areas, farm country, where the people population and number of vehicles on the road are relatively small then herd levels can easily be higher. I haven’t seen in it this year but at some point recently I saw a statistic that IL was like 34th in car deer accidents in this country so it’s not like it’s a major problem in most parts of the state.
     
  14. Vabowman

    Vabowman Grizzled Veteran

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    Yeh, well we have a lot of big swamps and cutovers and those deer can live there, breed there, and eat there and birth there..lots of deer are held in thick cutovers and swamps here.. can't kill all of them...we hunt with hounds in my part of the state to aid in killing more deer as well. my hunt club kills 130-140 deer a year with 35 members.. some clubs are killing 200-300 deer a year....every year! Alabama has pretty similar deer pop... we have about 1 million in VA
     
  15. jrk_indle84

    jrk_indle84 Grizzled Veteran

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    I live in Adams county and regularly got to Pike and Brown and from what I've seen hunters are down too. Not saying thats the cause of deer numbers being down but I can say back in the late 90's and early 2000's it was basically a free for all as far as hunters. Farmers and whoever had land wanted the deer pop down and that's when the outfitter and out of state boom started. See alot of ppl pile onto the DNR for selling so many tags but imo hunters need to step up and take responsibility too. Know several ppl that are now complaining about not seeing deer that would regularly kill 10-15 every year on their property 10 years ago.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
     
  16. Brad Kaufmann

    Brad Kaufmann Administrator

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    Technically speaking, I can shoot 3 bucks in Illinois in a county with the late CWD gun seasons. If I buy an either sex gun tag, then shoot 2 bucks during archery season with 2 archery tags, I can use the leftover either sex tag during the 2 CWD gun seasons and that buck doesn't count towards the 2 buck limit.
     
  17. cls74

    cls74 Legendary Woodsman

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    Can't you shoot unlimited bucks in that CWD county? During CWD season of course. Curious, what's the age structure like in such counties? Never really felt the need to research it, never ran into someone who hunts one of those counties.
     
  18. Brad Kaufmann

    Brad Kaufmann Administrator

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    You can shoot as many bucks as you want, as long as you have an either sex gun tag. That means you would have to buy a bunch of either sex gun tags before the 2nd gun season is over since I don't believe you can buy them after that.

    And I don't think the age structure is too bad here. There's still plenty of guys that shoot the first few deer that come by them regardless of age or sex. But I still see a decent amount of mature bucks on trail cameras.
     

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