Hunters hitting the woods and fields Friday for the first day of firearm deer season are urged by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to take simple steps toward ensuring their safety and the safety of those around them.
Hunters should wear a full-body harness in their stand to prevent them from falling, assume their firearms are loaded at all times, know where their target is in relation to other hunters and property and always point their firearms in a safe direction, said IDNR spokesman Tim Schweizer.
“They are simple suggestions but people need to remember to follow them,” said Schweizer.
Schweizer believes hunters will have a good season because of positive weather conditions and fewer instances of EHD, or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. While 400 deer were reported as having the disease by mid-October in 51 counties throughout the state, there were 2,000 reports by that time last year, said Schweizer.
“There are plenty of healthy deer out there,” said Schweizer.
Approximately 72,000 deer were shot during the first weekend of firearm season last year, with 180,811 total in all seasons last year, according to Schweizer.
“That is up from 66,500 from the year before after the first shotgun season,” he said.
According to Schweizer, cold weather has killed many of the gnats that cause the disease. The cold weather also makes this weekend good for hunting, with lows in the mid-20s overnight. The cold weather, he explained, causes more deer movement in woods and fields.
“Deer are out there and on the move,” he said.
The seven-day firearm deer season runs through Sunday, Nov. 24, and will conclude on Thursday, Dec. 5 through Sunday, Dec. 8.
Follow Tony Huffman on Twitter @EDNMain Friday as he joins in the first day of deer hunting season.