By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Illinois hunters once again enjoyed a prosperous deer season, nearly matching the harvest total from 2011-12.
The combined harvest total for the archery, firearms and muzzleloader seasons was 180,669, less than 1,000 fewer deer killed than a year ago. The harvest total for the 2011-12 seasons was 181,451.
The record harvest was in 2005-06 when 201,209 deer were harvested.
"We hope Illinois deer hunters had an enjoyable time afield this year, and took advantage of the many hunting opportunities afforded them," said Paul Shelton, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' forest wildlife Program Manager. "In the coming months, deer biologists will be reviewing all available data and making any needed program changes in order to ensure the continued well-being of Illinois' deer herd for this and future generations."
Last weekend, the archery and late-winter antlerless-only seasons wrapped up with hunters taking 59,728 deer with their bows and 14,726 antlerless-only deer.
Overall, there were 99,461 deer harvested during the seven-day firearms season, 3,630 deer taken during the muzzleloader season and 3,124 deer killed during the youth season.
Pike County led the state with 7,239 deer harvested, including 3,071 during firearms season and 2,838 during archery season.
In Adams County, there were 4,606 deer harvested, including 2,539 during firearms season and 1,347 in the archery season.
In Hancock County, hunters took 3,344 deer, including 2,076 during firearms season and 728 in archery season.
In Brown County, there were 2,887 deer harvested, including 1,409 during firearms seasons and 917 during archery season.
Waterfowl hunters event on tap: The Quincy chapter of Ducks Unlimited is playing host to a waterfowl hunter party Feb. 1 at Turner Hall. The doors open at 4:30 p.m. with a chicken dinner to be served at 6 p.m. The cost is $25 per person, which includes drinks for the evening (draft beer and soda). Anyone wearing camouflage to the event will have their name entered into a drawing for a shotgun.
The event is tailored to waterfowl hunters with all giveaways, raffles and auctions involving hunting gear.
For more information or to purchase a ticket, contact Quincy chapter president Don Marold at (217) 222-6267 or visit the DU website at www.ducks.org.
IDNR hires wetland program manager: Havana's Randy Smith is joining the IDNR's Division of Wildlife Resources as the wetland program manager.
Smith previously served as a waterfowl scientist for the Illinois Natural History Survey's Forbes Biological Station in Havana. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he majored in wildlife and biology, Smith earned a master's degree from Southern Illinois University, where he studied waterfowl habitat rehabilitation and spring migration ecology.
Since joining the INHS in 2007, Smith has studied waterfowl migration and feeding ecology, shorebirds, and wetland management and ecology.
"Management of the state's wetland wildlife program is critically important to the Department's efforts to protect waterfowl habitat and improve public migratory waterfowl areas within the state," IDNR director Marc Miller said. "Randy brings a wealth of experience to the job and we're delighted to welcome him to our team."