Deer hunters are being reminded to make safety their top priority as the firearm season begins.

The seven-day firearm hunting season takes place in two waves, from Friday to Sunday and again over the weekend of Dec. 4-7.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller calls deer hunting "a time-honored Illinois tradition." And he's urging hunters to be safety conscious while enjoying that heritage.

The department is also encouraging hunters to donate deer for processing into venison that is provided to food banks and food pantries throughout the state. That initiative is called the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Information about how to donate can be found on the department's website.