VIENNA, IL (KFVS) - Some big names in the hunting and fishing industry make southern Illinois their deer hunting destination.
Gerald Swindle is a longtime professional bass fisherman in the B.A.S.S. Elite Series. Swindle won his second Bassmaster's Angler of the Year award last season.
Swindle is also avid hunter.
For about the last decade, he's traveled with his wife, Le Ann Swindle, from their home in Alabama to bow deer hunt near Vienna, Illinois
"My wife tells my sponsors, 'he has to fish to afford his fishing habits,'" Swindle said.
He said southern Illinois has a lot to offer sportsmen and women.
"For my time frame, if I'm gone two hundred days a year, I'm on the water fishing. I don't have time to hunt 20 or 30 days with her and so we try to make it count," Swindle said. "What this place offers is that, a chance of a lifetime."
Swindle said his wife took her largest deer to date while bow hunting in the area three years ago.
He said he enjoys the people and hunting culture found in the Vienna.
"True hunters and sportsmen it's not all about the killing. it's enjoying the art of what you do," Swindle said. "So to me, archery hunting is a full life circle of coming out and enjoying the outdoors," Swindle said.
Deer harvest numbers are down in Illinois after this year's firearms season, that according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Their preliminary report shows hunters took nearly 79,500 deer. That's about 7,000 less than last year.
Hunters in Randolph County took the most deer of Illinois Heartland counties and second most in the state.