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Firearm deer season is this weekend. What’s the outlook?

Heading to the woods for deer hunting? Here’s the prediction from bow hunters

As firearms season opens for deer, here's what the bow hunters have been finding so far this fall. Monty Hoffarth, manager at Town Hall Archery in Belleville, said to expect some decent bucks and a solid harvest this season.
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As firearms season opens for deer, here's what the bow hunters have been finding so far this fall. Monty Hoffarth, manager at Town Hall Archery in Belleville, said to expect some decent bucks and a solid harvest this season.

The army of orange will hit the woods Friday morning.

It’s the start of the firearm deer season in Illinois, the first portion of which runs from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon.

Tom Micetich, the deer project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said even though it’s been a warm fall, hunters should expect to see the same level of success they’ve seen in recent years.

He said the rut — the whitetail deer mating season — has begun. During the rut, deer are on the move.

“October warmth likely depressed archery harvest during that month, but the kill during this past weekend was outstanding,” Micetich said.

October warmth likely depressed archery harvest during that month, but the kill during this past weekend was outstanding.

Tom Micetich, IDNR deer project manager

He said it remains to be seen whether the weather will be a factor this weekend.

“I think that temperatures are going to be cooler, but the wind may be a factor,” he said.

So far this year, the archery deer harvest hasn’t kept up with last year’s archery harvest.

At this point in 2015, Illinois bowhunters had taken about 39,370, a slight increase from a total of 38,076 at that same point last year.

Jeff Dickinson, of Bethalto, has had no problem finding deer during the archery season. He said he harvested three deer in lands he hunts near Hamel in Madison County and near Jerseyville in Jersey County. A bow technician at Town Hall Archery in Belleville, Dickinson pointed to two reasons for the why some others may have struggled this fall.

“People aren’t doing their homework,” he said. “And the weather has been terrible. There have been less hunters in the woods for the early season. As far as the heat goes, it’s been terrible. You’re up there (in a deer blind) sweating bullets. A lot of people don’t want to sit in the heat and hunt.”

People aren’t doing their homework. And the weather has been terrible. There have been less hunters in the woods for the early season. As far as the heat goes, it’s been terrible. You’re up there (in a deer blind) sweating bullets. A lot of people don’t want to sit in the heat and hunt.

Jeff Dickinson, bow technician at Town Hall Archery

Dickinson said he even skipped a few days in the field when it was too hot to hunt. He’s hopeful some cool temperatures predicted for this weekend come to pass, which should make the hunting experience better for everyone in the field.

Safety first

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Law Enforcement has investigated 10 hunting incidents so far during 2016, eight of which involved hunters falling from elevated tree stands or falling while climbing into or out of tree stands.

In 2015, there were 25 hunting incidents reported in all hunting seasons in Illinois. Among the hunting accidents reported last year, 15 involved tree stands.

The IDNR reminds hunters using tree stands to use a fall-arrest system or safety harness. Nationally, more than 80 percent of reported tree stand incidents involve hunters who were not using a fall restraint system, according to IDNR.

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