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Hunters head to the field this week for firearm deer season

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[November 21, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters to make safety a priority as they head to the field this weekend for the start of the state's firearm deer season. The seven-day season opens Friday through Sunday, Nov. 22-24, and will conclude Dec. 5-8.

"The firearm deer season is a great part of our hunting heritage in Illinois," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "Thanks to so many safety-minded hunters, hunting is one of our safest forms of outdoor recreation, and we want to remind hunters to make safety their first priority for deer season and whenever they're hunting."

The legal hunting hours for the season are from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

In most counties, hunters successful in taking a deer during the firearm season must register the deer harvest online through the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/
Pages/HarvestReporting.aspx
or by phoning 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). Hunters using the online or phone-in system must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer.

Firearm deer hunters in 10 northern Illinois counties are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season by taking them to their county check stations (shown below) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Biologists will be present at registration to take samples for testing for chronic wasting disease. Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate. The counties where hunters are required to check in their deer at check stations are:

  • Boone: Boone County Fairgrounds, 1/2 miles north of Route 76 and Business Route 20, Belvidere

  • DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

  • Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park, I & M Canal Trail, 401 Ottawa St., Morris

  • Jo Daviess: Elizabeth Community Building, 210 N. West St., Elizabeth; next to Highland Community College campus, 1/2 mile west of Elizabeth business district on Highway 20

  • Kane: Shabbona Lake State Park in DeKalb County, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

  • La Salle: Buffalo Rock State Park, 3 miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road

  • McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park, McHenry Dam Day Use Area, east of McHenry on River Road, 2.2 miles south of Route 120

  • Ogle: Castle Rock State Park, 3 miles south of Oregon on Route 2

  • Stephenson: Stephenson County Fairgrounds, 1 mile east of Route 26 and Fairgrounds Road, Freeport

  • Winnebago: Rock Cut State Park, Loves Park, Route 173 entrance

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Hunters who participate in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer (listed by phone number) through the IDNR website. Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR.

For more information on CWD in Illinois, check the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/Programs/CWD.

In addition to the seven-day firearm deer season, other upcoming firearm hunting seasons in the state are the three-day muzzleloader-only deer season Dec. 13-15 and the seven-day split late-winter firearm antlerless-only deer season and special CWD deer season Dec. 26-29 and Jan. 17-19.

In 2012, there were 26 hunting accidents reported in Illinois, three of which resulted in fatalities. There have been 14 hunting incidents reported in the state so far during 2013.

Of the hunting incidents reported last year, 11 involved tree stand falls. When using a tree stand, hunters should make sure they are using a full-body safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system or FAS.

Among safety reminders when hunting with a firearm:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, and never assume a firearm is unloaded.

  • Always point a firearm in a safe direction.

  • Be sure of your target, and make sure there are no other hunters, homes, buildings, vehicles or other animals beyond your target.

  • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Hunters successful in taking deer in Illinois are also encouraged to consider donating to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. The program allows hunters to donate whole deer for processing into venison that is provided to food banks, food pantries and other charitable organizations in local communities throughout the state. For more information on the program, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/ISAH.

For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations, check the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.

[Text from Illinois Department of Natural Resources file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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