Outdoors With Braz: Deer Numbers Slightly Down

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Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 51,365 deer during the first weekend of the Illinois firearm deer season on Nov. 17-19. We are a little down on the numbers this year as hunters took 54,452 deer during the first firearm weekend in 2016.

I'm pretty sure the high winds and periodic rain had something to do with the harvest numbers. We even had a few snowflakes Saturday evening where I was hunting.

Illinois’ seven-day firearm deer season will conclude Nov. 30 through Dec. 3. Deer harvest numbers from surrounding counties were as follows, with the first number being last years harvest and the second the 2017 harvest (source IDNR website).

County    2016    2017

Montgomery    551    509

Bond    390    441

Macoupin    967    945

Madison    444    493

Fayette    1050    1008

Christian    420    360

Other deer hunting opportunities in the weeks ahead include:

• Muzzleloader-only deer season on Dec. 8-10

• Archery deer season continues through Jan. 14, 2018 (archery is closed Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in counties open for firearm deer season)

I saw about 12 deer on my adventure but nothing close enough for a shot. What I did see, and I believe it was the reason for me not seeing more deer, was a large number of coyotes.

On opening day I saw eight, including two that were chasing a small deer across the field near my stand. Saturday I saw two, and Sunday evening I saw five. Late Sunday was the pick of the weekend as far as the weather and wind and I was confident I would see something close enough for a shot near my stand location.

About an hour before dark the coyotes started howling in the woodlot where I was sitting and a short time later five of them came within 50 yards of my stand. Pretty much ruined my chances of seeing a deer.

A friend of mine shot a deer on Friday morning and by the time he tracked it just a few hundred yards, the coyotes had already eaten a good portion of the rear quarter. I think it goes without saying that coyotes are becoming a huge problem in Montgomery County. Their numbers have increased dramatically over the last several years and they have become more and more brave, often wandering into towns and residential areas.

One night a few weeks ago I was just coming home from work about 2 a.m. and sat down on my porch for a few minutes to enjoy the nice evening. As I sat there on my porch, a coyote came from the side of my house and stood in my front yard right next to a big red maple. He was 10 feet from me. He had no idea I was there until I whistled at him.

Last week I was patrolling through Raymond about 1 a.m. and observed a large coyote running down Broad Street toward Springfield Road, right in the middle of town.

A friend of mine who raises show animals has had goats killed by coyotes and another friend has lost a few sheep at his farm near Walshville. I also read a story on Facebook where a hunter was chased by several coyotes as he left the woods. I'm not sure what the solution is for the increasing numbers of coyotes but I think its fair to say it's worth a study.

Many hunters were successful in the past few days during both shotgun and archery seasons. Eleven-year-old Payton Brown took a giant 11 point buck with a shotgun with an inside spread of nearly 26 inches.

I've hunted deer for 35 years and haven't taken anything close to that size. Great job Payton! That will be a hard one to top in upcoming seasons but he's off to a good start!

I heard of a lot of great stories of fathers, sons, mothers, grandparents and others sharing time in the woods. Those are good times, you'll remember them forever so keep it going. Good luck in the second season to everyone and don't forget to send me your pictures. You can find Outdoors With Braz on Facebook or just send them to my messenger. Happy hunting!

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