Thursday, November 20, 2008
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Firearm deer season opens Friday

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[November 20, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois firearm deer season, the state’s most popular hunting season, begins this weekend, with hunters in the field Friday through Sunday, followed by four days of hunting Dec. 4-7. Nearly 350,000 permits have been issued to hunters for the firearm season.

"As hunters take to the field this week, we hope for a successful harvest and encourage hunters to make safety a priority," said Sam Flood, acting director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "Hunters need to take extra care, especially with firearm and tree-stand safety."

DonutsHunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 117,425 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season in 2007 and 114,835 deer during the 2006 firearm season.

The legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Hunters successful in taking a deer during the firearm season in most counties must register -- or "check in" -- the deer they harvest by going online at 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. It is recommended that hunters who use cellular phones to register their harvest wait until they are out of the field and have a clear cell phone signal before attempting to make their report.

Hunters in nine northern Illinois counties where the Department of Natural Resources is conducting chronic wasting disease sampling must take deer they harvest to a deer check station by 8 p.m. on the day they take the deer. The check stations in counties where chronic wasting disease sampling is provided are listed below:


  • Boone County -- Boone County Fairgrounds, half-mile north of Route 76 and Business Route 20, Belvidere

  • DeKalb County -- Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

  • Grundy County -- Gebhard Woods State Park, 401 Ottawa St., Morris

  • Kane County -- Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona

  • LaSalle County -- Buffalo Rock State Park, three miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road, 1300 N. 27th Road, Ottawa

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

  • Ogle County -- Nov. 21-23 at Castle Rock State Park, 1365 W. Castle Road, Oregon; Dec. 4-7 at Lowden State Park, 1411 N. River Road, Oregon

  • Stephenson County -- Stephenson County Fairgrounds, Route 26 and Fairgrounds Road, Freeport

  • Winnebago County -- Rockford Speedway, Illinois Route 173 at Forest Hills Road, Rockford

Hunters who participate in the chronic wasting disease sampling can check the status of their deer at Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the Department of Natural Resources.

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While not believed to be contagious to humans or livestock, chronic wasting disease is known to spread from animal to animal among deer and elk. The disease affects the brain of infected animals, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die. Illinois expanded its surveillance effort in 2002 following the discovery of the disease in neighboring Wisconsin.

Hunting quick facts

  • Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must successfully complete a hunter safety course before a regular Illinois hunting license is issued to them.

  • The No. 1 cause of hunting accidents in Illinois is falling from a tree stand.

  • Last year in Illinois, there were 29 reported hunting accidents; 12 were the result of tree-stand falls. In 2006, 28 hunting accidents, including two fatalities, were reported in Illinois.

When using a tree stand, remember the following:

  • Check ladder stands before you climb to make sure they are secure.

  • Wear a safety harness when climbing a tree and when in a tree stand.

  • Use a haul line to raise an unloaded firearm or bow into a stand.


When hunting with a firearm, sportsmen should remember three primary rules of firearm safety:

  • Point the muzzle in a safe direction.

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

  • Know your target and what is beyond your target.

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



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