Deer hunters are so far more successful this year than last -- at least to when it comes to using their shotguns.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says 58,000 deer were harvested during the first part of firearm deer hunting season November 20 through 22nd.  Spokesman Chris Young says even with some bad weather the latter part of the weekend, hunters remained successful.

"Weather always plays a part," says Young.  "We had a beautiful day on Friday when hunters just had a spectacular first day.  Saturday, the snow moved in, and it was a little below the Saturday before for the previous year.  Then, Sunday, hunters made up some more ground, and we ended up just a little bit ahead of last year.

Up 6.100 from last year, in fact.  Jackson County saw the most deer harvested at nearly 1,600, with Adams County close behind.

Young says the increase may be by design, based on the number of car-versus-deer accidents in various areas, and how biologists use those numbers to manage the deer herd.  "Our biologists can use the number of permits that are issued for each county.  They can issue more permits if the deer numbers are a little higher -- if the deer-vehicle accident rate goes up.  They can restrict those numbers if that rate falls below the goal.

The second part of firearm deer season runs for four days starting Thursday.


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