2020 Illinois Deer Hunting Report & Results
2020 has been an interesting year due to the COVID pandemic. But that has not seemed to dissuade the masses of deer hunters hitting the woods. So far, the 2020 Illinois deer hunting harvest is slightly higher than 2019, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. These are preliminary numbers, as there are still late season firearm and archery seasons to account for. The first half of the firearm showed a decrease in deer harvested, while the second half showed an increase compared to last year. Muzzleloader and archery harvests are to date both higher than this time last year.
As an Illinois hunter myself, I saw plenty of does and small bucks during firearm season, but did not see as many big, mature whitetails compared to last year. Many hunters that I talked to reported similar results. Unseasonably warm temperatures, and the abundance of standing corn are two factors that could have attributed to decreased big buck sightings. I also believe that mature breeding bucks were “locked down” with does during the firearm seasons. Mature whitetail bucks will shadow a doe in heat for up to 72 hours, which decreases the amount of time he is actively searching for another doe, and consequently decreasing the chance of being seen during daylight hours. In addition, the second half of the firearm season fell on a near-full moon which can contribute to decreased daytime movement.
Firearm Harvest Results
A preliminary total of 76,579 deer were taken by hunters during the seven-day 2020 Illinois Firearm Deer Season, slightly higher than 75,417 deer harvested in 2019. The preliminary harvest for the first segment of this year’s firearm season (Nov. 20-22) was 47,147 deer, down from 50,241 for the same period in 2019. The preliminary harvest for the second segment of the firearm season (Dec. 3-6) was 29,432, compared with 25,176 during the second season in 2019.
Muzzleloader Harvest Results
During the 2020 Illinois Muzzleloader-Only Deer season (December 11-13), hunters harvested a preliminary total of 3,447 deer, compared to 3,076 in 2019. The preliminary harvest total consisted of 43% males and 57% females (1,469:1,978).
Preliminary Archery Harvest Results
Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 59,815 deer, compared to 55,079 for the same period in 2019. These are based on numbers provided by the IDNR as of November 11, 2020. As of November 19, the overall harvest has consisted of 58% males and 42% females (34,417:25,398 respectively).
Another trend to notice is the larger increase in the archery harvest and success rate. Arguably, this could be attributed to the increase in crossbow versus traditional compound bow use, as crossbows generally have a longer lethal ranges and accuracy by the average user. Stay tuned for a more comprehensive breakdown of overall harvest results.
Take a look at some successful Illinois hunters in the gallery below…