OUTDOORS: Deer harvest increases this season

Nov. 26—Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 52,354 deer during the first weekend of the Illinois firearm deer season Nov. 18-20.

Comparatively, hunters took 48,964 deer during the first firearm weekend in 2021.

Illinois' seven-day firearm deer season will conclude Dec. 1-4. Other deer hunting opportunities in the weeks ahead include:

. Muzzleloader-only deer season Dec. 9-11

—Late-winter antlerless-only and Chronic Wasting Disease deer seasons (in select counties only) Dec. 29-Jan. 1 and Jan.13-15

. Archery deer season continues through Jan. 15. (Note: archery deer hunting is closed Dec. 1-4 in counties open for firearm deer season.)

Vermilion County firearm hunters harvested 369 deer this past firearm season compared to 400 during last year's first season and 333 during the first season in 2020.

For more details about deer hunting, open counties and other information, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/hunting/Pages/DeerHunting.aspx.

Youth interested in participating in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt on Jan. 16 can register now.

The 2023 hunt will be dedicated in the memory of Tom Brokaw of Bloomington, who was a vital part of the hunt since its inception and opened his entire club for the youth hunters. He always went above and beyond to make sure children had a great hunt. Brokaw died Aug. 10 and was recognized as a 2022 Illinois Department of Natural Resources Volunteer of the Year during the Illinois State Fair.

The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in the Canton area in Fulton County, and hunters selected to participate will be pre-assigned to hunting locations.

Registration for the hunt begins Dec. 1 and will close Dec. 31. To register for a drawing to participate in the hunt, youth hunters must visit the following link, and follow the instructions: : https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/education/Pages/YouthGooseHunt2023.aspx.

The registration link can also be found on the IDNR home page at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Pages/default.aspx; look for the rotating images at the top of the page.

A lottery drawing involving all youth hunters who register will be conducted, and those who are selected will be notified by email. First-time applicants will be given priority over previous participants in the drawing.

The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-17 at the time of the hunt. All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20 gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's identification (FOID) card.

For any questions, call 217-785-8060.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will host its third annual mentored archery deer hunting opportunity for adults and youth at Kickapoo State Recreation Area Dec. 13 through Jan. 8.

Deadline to apply for a spot is 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 5. Those who wish to participate must complete the online application at https://bit.ly/ILmentoredhunt.

Hunters who wish to apply must have less than three years prior deer hunting experience and must not have had their name drawn previously for the mentored deer hunt program. This information will be verified by IDNR license records.

A lottery of applicants to assign blinds will be conducted following the close of the application period. All successful applicants will be contacted by an IDNR hunter heritage biologist with blind and hunt period assignments. Hunting slots will be allocated between youth and adult applicants equally. This year's hunter periods are:

Week 1: Dec. 13-18, 2022

Week 2: Dec. 20-25, 2022

Week 3: Dec. 27, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023

Week 4: Jan. 3-8, 2023

Hunters will be limited to harvesting one deer and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult mentor who can assist and advise them during the hunt. All accompanying mentors must be 21 years of age or older and must have a current Illinois hunting license. A free, site-issued windshield card will also be required. Hunters must provide their own mentor and equipment (ground blinds will be provided).

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Saturdays. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: pamnsam70@aol.com