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Tim's Big Game Blog

Illinois Deer Classic totals

Thu, June 19, 2014

Not long ago, IDNR Forest game Biologist Paul Shelton, head of Illinois deer herd management, made the statement that Illinois is still the envy of the country. Exacly what state’s he’s referring to is unknown – I’m guessing Florida, perhaps Washington. Maybe Hawaii.

Everything points to a drop huge drop in total deer living in the Prairie State, along with the drop in “Quality” bucks that Illinois was once known for. Now I should point out that in this instance, the quality bucks that I’m referring to means having bucks in an older age structure. Through the 1980s and into the 90s, “about the time we got a Tenn. Waterfowl Biologist to head our deer program,” bucks had been extremely protected through the permit systems. Because of that, Illinois had a high percentage of bucks that got old, old being 5 1/2 years or more, now being referred to the “Good Old Days”

And with Midwest whitetails, old Doesn’t mean “Mature” like you hear the “Hunting Pros” on the TV shows say when they’ve killed a younger, small-racked deer because they have to kill something on tape to look like a big shots and are trying to make an excuse for their actions.

A yearling spike buck can breed, produce fawns, and is “Mature”.  And we can’t be using the phrase “Big Buck” as whitetail bucks vary in body size greatly just like humans do, and what’s “Big or a “Trophy” is in the eye of the beholder.

I’m talking true adult bucks, and with that comes large antlers. The Boone and Crockett Club states that the avarage age of a whitetail buck that makes their records minimum is 5 1/2 years old, aged through tooth cross section.

So, where am I going with this? Where I’m headed is that Mr. Shelton and his boss John Buhnerkempe are obviously out of touch and have been for many years. North American Whitetail/Field & Stream/Outdoor Life/Deer and Deer Hunting and many more have all documented the rise and FALL of Illinois as being one of the top “Adult” buck producing states.

Will we ever see “the good old days” return to the Illinois deer herd with the people in Springfield’s IDNR that have been and continue to run this deer herd down? That’s an easy one to answer: NO.

It’s past time for a change in the IDNR Wildlife Division’s deer management goals and the people that run it.

2005 was the Peak year for the the overall number of deer harvested in Illinois.

The following are the results of the Illinois Deer Classic held every spring Since that peak year of 2005.

Show year   Total entries       Total Booners (170” typical/195” non-typ)

2014         165————————————————————————-13
2013         220————————————————————————-18
2012         280————————————————————————-28
2011         307 ———————————————————————-29  
2010         499————————————————————————-32
2009         502————————————————————————33
2008         605————————————————————————48
2007         496————————————————————————36
2006         588————————————————————————45
2005         628————————————————————————-56

While these numbers alone may not be the “nail in the coffin” stats, I ask you: Does this look like we are still the envy of North America? It looks to me more like we’re the laughingstock!

For those Heartland readers that say you don’t care about having a large percentage of adult bucks in the deer herd, you are in luck. YOU DON’T HAVE!

THIS is the Legacy Shelton and Buhnerkempe will leave the day they walk out of the “Manning Manor” building at the Illinoisn State Fairgrounds in Springfield for the last time. Don’t let the door hit you in the…


It’s a little off subject but does anyone know how the attendance numbers have been since it switched to Springfield?  I haven’t made it since then since its a bit longer drive for me.  I’m also curious if moving it to an earlier date has anything to do with it.  I always wondered if having it a touch earlier in the year made it tougher on getting heads done in time of for the classic as well (even though it looks like it has been on a decline for years)  Those heads were always the high point of the classic, always fun to see the bucks coming out of your county!

Posted by Bigb on June 19

Tim, I wish you would have counted the current year at the classic this year.  Because it wasn’t more than 25 percent of that number you listed.

Posted by clintharvey on June 19

That’s just sad

Posted by Andy Meador on June 19

CURRENT YEAR- Booners killed in the 2013 season-in the contest———TWO

Posted by walmsley on June 19

After reading this, why in the hell would anyone who cares about the Illinois whitetail herd in the slightest, have one negative thing to say about the IWA. While you may not agree with every single part of their proposal, these guys are VOLUNTEERING their time for the better of the herd.  Someone said it best, I believe Higgins, that the naysayers are the loudest and in reality the majority of hunters want change in Illinois whitetail management and realize he IWA is a step I’m the right direction. Please keep in mind, I have zero ties to anyone in the IWA and no skin in the whitetail money game. Thank you very much for your efforts, I hope the DNR wakes up soon.

Posted by CCHUNTER2024600 on June 19

MORE good facts & hard data Tim, that clearly show & support ALL the other IL deer data, facts & trends !!!!
As we have been saying for the last several years, the numbers, the data, the facts, the science & the truth…. do not lie !!!!
Here is the REALLY REALLY sad part =
Mark Miller & Comp. has made ZERO actual changes to any of the deer seasons, limits, permit quotas, restrictions or removed one single county from the LWS for this year ?????????
WHO, in their right mind, sites by year after year and lets this happen to our state’s valuable resource ????????

Posted by Lynn on June 19

Annual Deer Harvest Reports =
Well here it is again boys & girls. The link to the IDNR’s own Annual Deer Harvest Reports.
Most all of you have seen me post this link on here & other sites, lots & lots of times.
EVERY year they post the last years harvest report, in June.
Well we are just over a week away from June being over. The big question is, will IDNR post this years harvest report there, on time, as they are suppose to do OR…. will they set on it, like they did the end of season harvest totals & press release this year ?????
My guess is that they will NOT post it.
Time will tell…...

Posted by Lynn on June 19

If I recall correctly the last four or five March’s have been very cold, snowy and wet, which would account for the decline in number of heads that could be brought to the show.

Posted by BIGPOND on June 20

BIGPOND, I drove up to the show from southern Illinois this year.  I wouldn’t drive in bad road conditions.  THIs year the conditions for the show were as good as you could expect.  I doubt I attend it again.  The show seriously isn’t 1/5 of what it was 10 years ago. 

Tim, I thought the current year numbers at the show were lower than if the show would have been held in 1980.

Posted by clintharvey on June 20

I was actually mimicking an often used Sheldon excuse for his justifcation for lower numbers.

Posted by BIGPOND on June 20

Lynn - 2013 Deer Harvest Summary was posted to the website this morning (link, below).  Also, as discussed with you and other IWA members present during our recent meeting, LWS and firearm/muzzleloader quota changes were to be made after all data had been evaluated—so your announcement of “no changes” is a bit premature.

Posted by DozRdeer2 on June 25

Thanks Tom, appreciate the update.
Not trying to be argumentative here, but by the time we get 2013 DVA data (August-September, I’m told) we will have been through 2 firearm lotteries and possibly days or weeks of daily permit drawings. Also, the available permits by county have already been posted. What if you sell all of them in a particular county before you have the data? How will you adjust numbers after permits have been issued?  Some counties below goal don’t have the LWS to curtail. And even counties in the LWS… it does no good to simply cancel the LWS if you still issue the same number of permits.
I think that’s why people assume that we won’t be seeing significant changes for this year.

Posted by Kevin C on June 25

The first two lotteries are for first firearm permits.  Other than individual sites with very samll quotas, we typically don’t exhaust all either-sex permits for a County—unless a big buck taken there happened to be splashed across the pages of deer magazines. 

Additional permits may be obtained beginning with the random daily draw period which begins August 14th.  We have time to get “preliminary” DVA data and evaluate it prior to then.  LWS counties can be identified and permit quotas adjusted before mid-August—as was explained during our recent meeting with yourself and other IWA representatives.

Posted by DozRdeer2 on June 25

anyone heard what limitations are going to be put on this years upcoming hunts? Still selling unlimited bow tags OTC? Shotgun tags OTC?

Posted by deer&turkey; on June 26

If it wasn’t for “BIG BUCKS”, No one would know who Paul Shelton or Illinois is in the deer hunting world-or care- cause he could have come in from TN. and just had Doe’s and yearling bucks to kill off like PA.“Oh wait, that’s where we’re almost at”—He Inherited the best in the world- Which helps pay DNR salaries: And he’ll leave a shell of what once was-

Maybe he can’t be “fired”- But Miller could stick him in one of the mnay Empty Offices or closets in “Manning Manor” and give him a trivial job to do for a couple years and he’d finally quit. Make it one big enough for Buhnerkempe to be in there with him. That’s how they forced out Forest Loomis.

Posted by walmsley on June 26

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