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Welcome to Illinois Hunter

IllinoisHunter Home:

Your independent guide to useful information about hunting in Illinois...........

The Midwestern state of Illinois is well known as one of the best states in the USA for trophy whitetail deer and eastern-strain wild turkeys. However, Illinois offers more than just great deer and turkey hunting. In addition to having big bucks and trophy gobblers, Illinois also boasts excellent hunting for a wide variety of other wild game species. Illinois upland game choices include great hunting for pheasant, bobwhite quail, rabbit, and squirrel hunters. Coyote and fox are popular predator hunting species. Excellent migratory waterfowl hunting opportunities for both ducks and geese are also found throughout Illinois. Great dove hunting is also available in Illinois every September.

Whitetail Deer

2017-18 Illinois Deer Seasons & Permits

2017-2018 Illinois Archery Deer Hunting began October 1st, and ends January 14th 2018 statewide. A variety of firearm seasons follow soon afterwards.

Permit Firearm and Muzzleloader Lotteries are over. Only OTC (Over-The-Counter) will be available, starting October 17th! Archery permits are already available over-the-counter.

Remaining Deer Permit Application Deadlines (Lotteries)

  • Special Hunt Areas Lottery - 10/31/2017 to 11/27/2017
  • Deer Firearm and Muzzleloader Remaining OTC permits - 10/17/2017 to 1/14/2018

Deer Season Dates

  • Archery Deer Season - 10/1/2017 to 1/14/2018
  • Youth Firearm Deer Season - 10/7/2017 to 10/9/2017
  • First Firearm Deer Season - 11/17/2017 to 11/19/2017
  • Second Firearm Deer Season - 11/30/2017 to 12/3/2017
  • First Muzzleloader Deer Season - 11/30/2017 to 12/3/2017
  • Second Muzzleloader Deer Season - 12/8/2017 to 12/10/2017
  • First Late-Winter/CWD Deer Season - 12/28/2017 to 12/31/2017
  • Second Late Winter CWD Deer Season - 1/12/2018 to 1/14/2018

Eastern Wild Turkey

Illinois 2017-18 Wild Turkey Hunting

Fall Turkey Archery Season - 10/1/2017 to 1/14/2018

Fall Turkey Season (Shotgun) - 10/21/2017 to 10/29/2017

In order to hunt turkeys in Illinois, you will need a valid Wild Turkey permit, a 2017-2018 Illinois hunting license, and an Illinois Habitat Stamp. Certain exemptions may apply for hunters under 16, disabled hunters, disabled veterans, former POWs, certain military members, and landowners. View General Information contained in the current 2017-2018 ILDNR Hunting Digest. Visit the IDNR Turkey Hunting Web Portal Page

2017 IL Fall Turkey Shotgun Season Applications:

  • FIRST LOTTERY - Applications from Illinois residents will be accepted through July 3rd.
  • SECOND LOTTERY - Applications from non-residents and residents that do not have a permit will be accepted through August 21st. Illinois residents will be given preference for permits allocated in the Second Lottery.
  • THIRD LOTTERY - Anyone that does not have a permit or has one permit may apply for the third lottery through September 18th.
  • NOTE: Last day to apply for Fall Shotgun Turkey permits is September 18th.
  • View & Download Main-In Application Form & Information Sheet (information only)

2017 IL Fall Turkey Archery Season Applications:

Useful Turkey Hunting Web Links:

2017-2018 Illinois Upland Hunting

View 2016-2017 Season Details from the current ILDNR Hunting Digest as a general guide. The new Hunting Digest is typically publisjhed late summer around the time of the Illinois State Fair.

Get Ready for the 2017 Hunting Seasons!

IDNR Wingshooting Group at JEPC

IDNR Wingshooting Clinics: IDNR-sponsored shotgunning clinics are designed for a wide range of shooting skill levels.The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) sponsors wingshooting clinics at multiple sites geographically distributed throughout Illinois.Two types of clinics are offered.Youth/Women's clinics are designed to teach participants basic firearm and hunter safety, wingshooting fundamentals, as well as practical wingshooting.Hunters clinics are designed to enhance the wingshooting skills of hunters, and impart sound wingshooting practice techniques. The clinics are conducted on weekends during the spring through early fall of each year. LEARN MORE

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Illinois Waterfowl Seasons

Goose Flagging in Fulton County IL

Various waterfowl seasons have been established throughout Illinois, starting in the North and working to the South. There are now a total of four waterfowl zones in Illinois; designated as North, Central, South Central and South zones. Please note that some updates in the regulations can come out at the "last minute," so make a last-minute check before you start your season.

Illinois Hunting Licenses:Hunting Gear at

Illinois hunting and fishing licenses expire on March 31 each year. The licenses for each new year become available starting in January. Current year fishing, hunting and sportsman combination licenses are available from local license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR web site at DNR Direct Online License Sales, or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT. Online license buyers can use American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa or E-Check and print the license or receipt. The system is available 24 hours a day. Note: Dove and waterfowl hunters should remember to register with the HIP program when they obtain their licenses.

Youth Hunting License:As per the new regulations: The purpose of this license is to extend limited hunting privileges, in lieu of obtaining a standard hunting license. Any resident youth hunter age 18 and under may purchase a YouthHunting License, which does not require the hunter to have a Hunter Education Card. A youth hunter with this license must hunt while supervised by a parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older and has a valid Illinois hunting license. The youth hunter shall not hunt or carry a hunting device unless the youth is accompanied by and under close personal supervision of these individuals. Learn More

Public Hunting Area Reports:

Public Hunting Areas: Need a place to hunt? Many public hunting opportunities are available at sites owned or managed by the state of Illinois, but regulations are often hard to find and vary widely. The IDNR currently offers 182 public land sites for hunting. Detailed statistics have been released regarding hunter usage and harvest success for last year's hunting seasons at state-owned hunting sites.

Windshield Cards For State Hunting Sites: Online registration for a site-specific "windshield" hunting permit will soon be available. Registration for local site permits to be displayed on vehicle windshields previously had been issued at site offices.Windshield Permit Information

Hunting & Trapping Digests: The Illinois Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations is the primary public source of official information about Illinois hunting laws and related regulations. The Illinois Waterfowl Digest is the official source of information for hunting migratory species. Regulation Digests and season guides are published each summer; typically just before the Illinois State Fair. The Digests can be accessed either online, or as printed pamphlets available at hunting license vendors and ILDNR offices statewide. Publications such as these are also offered for free to qualified teachers, administrators, etc. Learn More

Special Notices

Returning Military Veterans:The Armed Forces Special Pass was created for military members who live in Illinois and who have served abroad, including guard or reserve members called to active duty. The special pass provides camping, fishing and hunting fee exemptions for qualified military members, guard and reserve members who can apply within two years of their return from abroad or release from mobilization. Learn More

Find a Hunter Safety Class in your County: (Certification is generally required for anyone anyone born on or after January 1, 1980.) Most counties in Illinois are running classes prior to Fall hunting seasons, but some have already completed their annual class schedule. An alternative web-based online instructional component is now available, which can be used in conjuction with a 5-7 hour "Field Day" clinic to obtain safety certification. However, "Field Day" experiences are held less frequently than traditional classes. If you cannot find a class or field day available at this time of the year, an apprentice license may be a possible alternative for either youngsters or adults. (see below) Note: Many older adults are finding that they need hunter safety certification in order to hunt out-of-state regardless of age. Learn More About Safety Education

Crossbow Regulations Updated: A series of regulation changes have been made for crossbow deer hunting over the past few years, and now age/disability restrictions have been removed entirely:

  • Hunters in Illinois may use crossbows during archery hunting seasons, including the Illinois Archery Deer Season and the Illinois Fall Turkey Archery Season beginning on Oct. 1. 
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    Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law House Bill 2893, which amended the Illinois Wildlife Code to repeal restrictions on the use of crossbows during archery hunting seasons in Illinois.  

    Illinois law previously allowed the use of crossbows for archery hunting by persons age 62 or older, and those persons with disabilities who qualified for a crossbow permit issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  In addition, the previous law allowed certain youth hunters to use crossbows, and allowed all archery hunters to use crossbows beginning the Monday after the second firearm deer season. 

    The 2017-18 season dates for archery deer and fall turkey archery hunting in Illinois are Oct. 1, 2017 through Jan. 14, 2018.  Archery seasons will be closed Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3 during the Firearm Deer Season in those counties open to firearm deer hunting.

Crossbows used in hunting shall: a) have minimum and a maximum peak draw weight of 125 and 200 pounds, respectively. b) have a minimum overall length (from butt of stock to front of limb) of 24 inches. c) have a working safety. d) be used with fletched bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length (not including point). e) use broadheads that may have fixed (must be metal or flint-, chert- or obsidian- napped) or expandable blades (must be metal), but they must be a minimum 7/8 inch diameter when fully opened. f) NOT use electronic tracking systems utilizing radio telemetry. Note: On state-owned and -managed hunting areas flu-flu arrows must be used for taking upland game.

The equipment restrictions apply to all eligible hunters. (note: the 24" minimum crossbow limb width restriction has been removed - check the IDNR Legal Hunting Devices page for more details.

Illinois "Purple Paint Law" in Force: A recent state law allows Illinois landowners or lessees the option of using purple paint markings on trees or posts on their property as a “no trespassing” notice. The “Purple Paint Law” is designed as an alternative which Illinois landowners can use to protect their property from trespassing. Learn More

State Site Closure Updates: Check out the current ILDNR Site Closure Update for specifics regarding the availability of services at state sites, including weather closures. Background Info

IDNR Contacts: The State of Illinois Telephone Directory is useful for contacting specific departments of State Agencies such as Natural Resources. For example, the IDNR hunting permit office telephone number in Springfield is 217-782-7305. We feel that IDNR is greatly understaffed; you should first try to answer your questions by researching online through and other Internet sites, or reading the latest issue of the Illinois Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations publication.

Poacher TIP Line: Game Violation Hotline (1-877-2DNRLAW)

Landowner Property Tax Relief: The Conservation Stewardship Program offers the incentive of reduced valuation for property taxes to Illinois landowners who are willing to commit to maintaining and managing unimproved land. Learn More

CWD and the Special Northern CWD Season: Read the latest CWD Information and Updates

Note: Editing of the web site has been slowed by a broken hip for our publisher Larry Dale; the accident happened on a trip to Monterey in eastern Tennessee to pick up a new French Brittany puppy! The hip has been replaced at Cookeville Regional Hospital, and expert local rehab staff have expedited his recovery (see for details on the amazing therapists)

Our Mission has been designed to provide a friendly user interface to access useful information about hunting and outdoor conservation in Illinois. Many of our links will take you to other sites, especially selected portions of the IL Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) web site. Please note that is not officially associated with the IDNR or other organizations whose sites open in a new browser window, and that we are not responsible for the accuracy of information derived from or found on these external sources. Please note that our web site became somewhat outdated during 2014 and early 2015 due to time and health priority conflicts for our publisher, which have since been resolved. For 2015, we plan on both updating the accuracy of our information, and creating a fresh new look for our page design. provides access to a wide variety of resources, including:

State Of Illinois Links - where you can go directly to useful State of Illinois information without having to search through multiple levels of state sites to reach the basic information that you need. Our focus is on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (acronyms ILDNR or IDNR) for Illinois hunting information, and also includes the Illinois State Police (ISP) web site for Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID) information. However, you can also check here for a list of useful IDNR departmental Email links, and an online Master Contact Listing covering all governmental agencies in the great State of Illinois, including full DNR agency-wide listings and departmental phone numbers.

Local Club and Chapter Sites - a clearinghouse where local sporting clubs and organizations in Illinois can get a free link to their current web site, or arrange to publish an inexpensive site through our domain name and web hosting partner!

Sporting Organizations - here are handy links to United States of America national and state organizations supporting hunting and shooting, such as the NWTF (National Wild turkey Federation,) DU (Ducks Unlimited,) NRA (National Rifle Association,) ISRA (Illinois State Rifle Association,) and IFOR (Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources.)

Illinois Sporting Publications - a guide to sporting publications and videos featuring hunting, fishing, and shooting sports throughout the state.

Hunter Tools - links to useful tools related to hunting such as Illinois FOID card information, weather forecasts, sunrise/sunset tables, and more. Send us an email about what topics you would like to see in this section. Do you want topics like hunting dog resources, wing shooting clinics, local upland hunting preserves, rifled slugs vs sabots, shed antler collecting, taxidermy, etc?

Hunting Facts - a collection of resources that will help to educate Illinois hunters and non-hunters alike regarding the importance of hunting in our culture and our environment.

Feature Article Section - feature articles are created with a focus on informational and educational topics that will be of interest to Illinois sportsmen and sportswomen. is a resource that has been developed to provide useful web links and general information about sport hunting and wildlife conservation in the great state of Illinois, USA. Our site is designed for use by sportsmen of all ages and skill levels, as well as by non-hunters who simply want to learn more about hunting and related activities in Illinois. We intend to accomplish our goals without bothering you with annoying commercial interruptions, "chatty" opinion postings, and distractions like "popups" and/or unrelated advertising. Whether you are a resident or non-resident hunter, you will especially appreciate our upcoming "County by County" search for local resources in Illinois counties. In addition, we will also be featuring innovative online ways to buy hunting products, services, or properties - such as! In our home Central Illinois area surrounding Petersburg and Menard County, we have expanded out web publishing focus beyond hunting topics with - check it out!