FILE - Deer hunting

Lee Anderson, center, helps Domenic Salvucci, left, get the buck Salvucci shot into the butcher shop for processing in this 2005 file poto.

(The Center Square) – Bowhunting season is underway and runs through Jan. 17, 2021. 

Dan Skinner, forest wildlife program manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said recreational hunting is vital for the protection and management of the outdoor environment in Illinois.

“People may never hunt or fish a day in their lives, but they are still benefiting from the purchases that hunters are making,” Skinner said. “The sale of hunting and fishing licenses and the sale of deer permits is money that we use to do a lot of good for wildlife all over the state.”

There are 102 counties in Illinois. Each county has its own deer population goals. Without the help of recreational hunters, it would be impossible for the employees of the Department of Wildlife Management to meet those goals, Skinner said. 

Illinois has lost most of its natural predators for deer. 

“We don’t have mountain lions. We don’t have wolves. We don’t have black bears to keep our deer populations in check,” Skinner said. “Our North American of model of wildlife management is founded on hunting – both for population control and for funding.”

The popularity of bow hunting in Illinois is growing every year. Firearm deer hunting is limited to a handful of days in November. Bow hunting season, on the other hand, lasts three and a half months. 

“It gets people off the couch, away from the TV and out in the woods. And it is a whole lot of fun,” Skinner said. 

Traditional longbow hunters are still out there, and longbow hunting has its devotees. Skinner said that there is nothing like the thrill of using modern bows and crossbows.

“They are modern engineering marvels that propel arrows 300- to 400-feet per second, with a razor sharp tip on the end,” he said. 

Modern equipment makes for a quick kill, a preferable death for a deer compared with what awaits them in nature: starving to death, being eaten by a coyote, succumbing to an injury or suffering from a chronic wasting disease.