No place to hunt? Already filled your permit? Forgot to apply for a deer permit?
You may want to consider daily "stand-by" deer permits that are available on-site at a number of special hunt areas during their respective 2006 deer seasons. With this program, you can always have an opportunity for firearm deer hunting in Illinois if you are willing to travel. Since they typically cost only $5 for the opportunity to hunt deer with a firearm on a day-to-day basis, stand-by deer hunting is a bargain by anyone's standard. At many sites, it is not unusual to harvest a deer in the morning and then return to the field in the afternoon with another $5 permit!
Most of these opportunities are "doe-only," but a number of the sites will participate in the "Bonus Buck" program described in our first feature installment of this series. Thirty-three (33) special hunt areas were listed as having standby permit programs on the regular firearm application alone, plus additional opportunities on state sites that support special muzzleloader hunts. Stand-by permits are managed independently by each participating site, so we recommend that you contact a site directly to make sure that standby permits will be available before you travel. You should also read their 2006 Hunter Fact Sheet, but keep in mind that our random sampling has shown that many of the fact sheets available online were published long before the sites worked out their stand-by rules and procedures.
While there are fewer state areas with standby hunting opportunities during muzzleloader season, there will be less competition for the available standby slots. Sites that are listed as having standby muzzleloader permits on the 2006 application form include Castle Rock State Park, Marseilles Fish & Wildlife Area, Mitchell's Grove Nature Preserve, and Starved Rock State Park. The Delair Division of Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge will also have some standby opportunites during their special hunt that will be held on January 6 & 7, 2007.