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. Regulation Digests and season guides are published each summer. As a general reference, View 2015-2016 Hunting Seasons Guide
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 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. Learn More
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
Crossbow Hunting Expanded: Regulation changes have been made for crossbow deer hunting over the past few years, and the following is generally expected to continue for 2015-2016: View Currrent Regulations
- Hunters who are under 62 years old and wish to use a crossbow, can now do so after the regular firearm seasons conclude ( after the second firearm season)
- Senior hunters 62 years of age and older are permitted to hunt using a crossbow without a special crossbow authorization for the entire archery season.
- Persons with a disability or persons who have obtained a special use permit are also allowed to use the devices for the entire archery season.
All eligible hunters using a crossbow need an archery deer permit, and prior to the second half of the archery season must carry proof of age in the form of an official ID, or a disability permit. Equipment restrictions apply for all eligible hunters. (note: the 24" minimum crossbow limb width restriction has been removed - check the IDNR Legal Hunting Devices page for more details.
Waterfowl Seasons: 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 "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
Public Hunting Area Reports: 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. Learn More
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. Search Site-Specific Hunting Regulations
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 IllinoisHunter.com and other Internet sites, or reading the latest issue of the Illinois Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations publication.
Windshield Cards For State Hunting Sites: Online registration for a site-specific "windshield" hunting permit is now available. Registration for local site permits to be displayed on vehicle windshields previously had been issued at site offices. Register and Print Permit
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
As Seen at the Quail Forever Banquet in Oakford, IL
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Illinois Fall 2015 Hunting Seasons Unfold
Squirrel season started in August, and Dove Season began the month of September. Archery deer season starts off October 1st, and many waterfowl seasons begin later in the month. It's a great time to be alive, with a hunting license in your pocket and a permit in your hand. Now is the time to brush up on the latest hunting rules and regulations, as many details change on a year-to-year basis. The best way to start is to Download The Latest 2015-2016 Hunting & Trapping Digest, or pick up a paper copy at a local Illinois Hunting/Fishing License Vendor.
Illinois Deer Hunting
Illinois archery deer hunting began October 1st statewide. Details
Illinois Firearm Deer Seasons:
- Youth Firearm Deer Season - 10/10/2015 to 10/12/2015
- First Firearm Deer Season - 11/20/2015 to 11/22/2015
- Second Firearm Deer Season - 12/3/2015 to 12/6/2015
- First Muzzleloader Deer Season - 12/3/2015 to 12/6/2015
- Second Muzzleloader Deer Season - 12/11/2015 to 12/13/2015
To obtain Illinois deer permits, the Illinois DNR runs a series of permit lotteries followed by "over-the-counter" sales. The Resident-Only 1st Firearm Lottery ended on April 30th. The 2015 Second Lottery was open to both residents and non-residents, with a deadline of June 30th. The 3rd lottery application deadline was August 21st. "Random Daily Drawings" are no longer used for firearm or muzzleloader deer permits.
Any remaining 2015 - 2016 firearm deer permits are now available over-the-counter "OTC" from license vendors (began October 21st) on a first come, first serve basis. Permits will be sold until quotas are exhausted, or until the the close of the firearm deer season, whichever occurs first. Individuals can purchase one or more permits during this period, subject to availability. Muzzleloader Season permit applications run concurrently with the Firearm permit application periods.
Available permits during the OTC period are only occasionally posted, but at least you can view the available permits when the OTC process began: View Available Muzzleloader and Firearm Deer Permits, Effective Starting 10/21/15.
A variety of changes were implemented starting in 2014 due to a reduced Illinois deer herd and a harsh winter in 2013. From the private sector, the initiative to promote continued deer herd monitoring and proposals for change have been taken by the newly formed Illinois Whitetail Alliance. More Info
More Licenses, Permits,
Illinois Hunting Licenses:
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.
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 2015 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
Youth Hunting License: As per the new regulations: The purpose of this license is to extend limited hunting privileges, in lieu of obtaining a valid hunting license, any resident youth age 16 years old and under who will be hunting under the direct supervision of a validly Hunter licensed adult; parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older. The Resident Youth Hunting License shall be a renewable license that shall expire on the March 31 following the date of issuance. The Youth Hunting License shall not require any certificate of competency or other Hunting Education as a condition of the Youth Hunting License. For resident youth aged 16 and under, the Youth Hunting License shall entitle the licensee to hunt while supervised by a validly Hunter licensed adult; parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older. Possession of a Youth Hunting License shall serve in lieu of a valid hunting license, but does not exempt the licensee from compliance with the requirements of any rules and regulations. The youth shall not hunt or carry a hunting implement, (firearm, bow, crossbow) unless the youth is accompanied by and under the close personal supervision of a validly Hunter licensed adult; parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older. At age 17 years or when the youth chooses to hunt by themselves, they are required to successfully complete a Hunter Safety course approved by the Department prior to being able to obtain their own full Hunting license and subsequently hunt by themselves.
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
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IllinoisHunter.com 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 IllinoisHunter.com 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.
IllinoisHunter.com 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 SportingDomains.com!
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 - IllinoisHunter.com feature articles are created with a focus on informational and educational topics that will be of interest to Illinois sportsmen and sportswomen.
IllinoisHunter.com 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 turkeypro.com! In our home Central Illinois area surrounding Petersburg and Menard County, we have expanded out web publishing focus beyond hunting topics with PetersburgIL.com - check it out!