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The Long-Term Future Is Still Uncertain For The DNR Pheasant Program, But 2008 1st Lottery Applications Run Through August 17th.

photo of pheasant hunter and guide

Note: pheasant hunting at state sites has been reinstated for the 2009 season. This report series is no longer being updated as of July 2009.

3/24/08 - 8/6/08
An Special Report

Recommended Sources For Additional Information:

2009 Update As Of 8/1/09

Application, season & regulation information for DNR-operated pheasant hunting sites has been updated with the new 2009 season information. The online application process for DNR-operated sites started on Monday, August 10, 2009. Learn More

Update As Of 1/26/09

The 2008-2009 season was a success, and there are reasonable expectations that the program will return for the 2009-2010 season in some form.


Status As Of 8/6/08

Despite continuing controversy regarding the new ILDNR budget, the Controlled Peasant Hunting Permit Reservation System for IDNR-controlled public sites is now operational, and online reservations for DNR-operated sites have begun. (Ongoing reservations for Public/private sites operated by T. Miller, Inc. will continue through August 8th.)

Applications from Illinois resident hunters only will be accepted beginning the first Monday of August (Aug. 4th) at 8:30 a.m. through Aug. 17th at 12:00 midnight CDT for inclusion in the first random drawing. Illinois resident hunters that did not apply or who were unsuccessful in the first drawing and nonresident hunters can apply from Aug. 18th at 12:01 a.m. through Aug. 31st at 12:00 midnight CDT for inclusion in the second random drawing. Each applicant age sixteen and over may apply for only one area and receive only one permit during the first two drawing periods. Applicants that are successful in the first drawing are not eligible for the second drawing. Controlled Pheasant Hunting Permits are apparently still $15 per hunter. There are no fees for the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt.

The Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt is a special one day hunt during the controlled pheasant hunting season for young hunters ages ten through fifteen (see Youth Pheasant Hunt). Young hunters may apply for only one area and receive only one permit for a site participating in the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt. Young hunters that have applied for the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt may also apply for another hunt date during the controlled pheasant hunting season in one of the first two drawings.

IllinoisHunter plans to continually update this report as future events unfold. Although the program is in place for this year, the long-term future is still highly uncertain.


News Timeline

3/24/08: Reports began circulating in mid-March 2008 that the Illinois Controlled Pheasant Program (operated by the Illinois DNR on multiple state sites) was to be eliminated effective immediately by order of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. The Fall 2008 Pheasant Season is many months away, but without a continuing ILDNR operating budget for raising pheasants, there will be no birds available for release in the Fall.

With the relative lack of accessible and/or suitable pheasant hunting habitat on private land in Illinois, many hunters find that the Controlled Pheasant Program provides their only available upland hunting opportunities. In addition, most DNR sites offer popular youth pheasant hunts that would also be cut in this ill-conceived plan.

Several Town Hall Meetings have been scheduled throughout the state to allow citizens to offer their input on Illinois budget-related issues. However, the narrow range of dates (3/17-3/27) and the relative lack of down-state locations has made it difficult for many sportsmen to attend and defend the Controlled Pheasant Program. Of course, the best approach for most people is simply to contact your local legislators directly with your input.

The purported savings through elimination of the program was to total $1.3 million dollars. However, as Jeff Lampe of notes: "... the savings total is completely deceptive. For one thing, hunters must purchase a $15 permit each time they hunt pen-raised birds, and last year paid $438,000. Then too, payroll costs account for $928,000 of the previously mentioned $1.3 million. But there are no plans to eliminate staff positions even if pheasant-raising is halted according to Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta)."

These figures also don't include revenues generated by Illinois hunting licenses and habitat stamps purchased by the hunters, since they are not directly attributed to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources pheasant program. Nor do the figures include revenues received through the distribution of Pittman-Robertson funds: these funds include an 11% federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment distributed to states based on a formula involving the area of a state and the number of licensed hunters in the state. (The Pittman-Robertson money is collected from the manufacturers and distributed annually to the states by the federal Department of the Interior.)


The following sources have been added since our first item was originally posted. Update 3/30/08

3/23/08 Article in German Shorthair Pointer Club of Illinois website

3/29/08 Article in the Springfield State Journal-Register by Chris Young:

IL Pheasant Program Fact Sheet from Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever Update 4/9/08

April 2008 (undated press release) "State Senator John O. Jones (R-Mt. Vernon) is leading a bi-partisan effort in the Illinois General Assembly to preserve the state-sponsored Controlled Pheasant Hunting Program (CPHP)." Update 4/14/08

This Wednesday, April 16th, there will be a legislative hearing of the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield that will cover the funding of the IDNR state pheasant program (among other topics.) This committee hearing will be held as a joint hearing with the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee (Appropriations II) starting at 8 am. The direct link to the hearing notice is: The committee hearing is open to the public and written public statements will be accepted for consideration. According to Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) there will probably be a proposal to keep the program associated with a proposed $10 hunting trip fee increase. ($15-$25) There is also some talk of higher fees for out-of-state hunters. Update 4/16/08

As reported in Prairie State Outdoors, the legislative hearing was inconclusive as to the future of the pheasant hunting program. For more details:

"DNR pheasant program faces deadline" Prairie State Outdoors 4/16/08 Update 7/1/08

As reported in Prairie State Outdoors, it appears that the IDNR pheasant program will continue for at least this season. For more details:

"Pheasants might fly this fall after all" Prairie State Outdoors 7/1/08 Update 7/7/08

Online applications for Public/Private pheasant hunting sites operated by T. Miller, Inc. are being accepted for the first lottery through July 11th. Despite continuing controversy regarding the new ILDNR budget, the Controlled Peasant Hunting Permit Reservation System for public sites is now operational, and online reservations for DNR-operated sites are expected to be available starting at 8:30 am on Monday, August 4th. More details:

For public/private sites, apply online at

For IDNR-controlled sites, apply online at