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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. Regulation Digests and season guides are published each summer. As a general reference, View 2013-2014 Hunting Seasons Guide

Special Notices

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

Bass Pro Shops SaleIDNR 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 Update: Regulation changes were made for crossbow hunting in 2012, and the following is currently expected to continue for 2013-2014:

  • Hunters who are under 62 years old and wish to use a crossbow, can now do so after the regular firearm seasons conclude ( after December 8th, 2013.)
  • 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.

New Illinois "Purple Paint Law"Already in Force: A new 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. The new law – Senate Bill 1914 – was signed by Governor Quinn on Aug. 22 and took effect immediately. 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 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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Youth Turkey Hunt Photo taken at State Hunting Site JEPC
Youth Hunter and Parent at JEPC in Cass County

Illinois Turkey Seasons End

Spring 2014 wild turkey seasons began in April throughout Illinois, and the last day was May 15th in the Northern Zone. An extended winter throughout most of the state resulted in limited plant growth in the turkey woods compared to previous years. There are five individual hunting seasons with separate permits within each of the state's two zones (Northern and Southern.)


Illinois Deer Seasons: Due to a reduced Illinois deer herd and a harsh winter, a variety of changes are being proposed for 2014. From the private sector, the initiative to promote change has been taken by the newly formed Illinois Whitetail Alliance. More Info

The Resident-Only 1st Firearm Lottery ended on April 30th. The 2nd lottery is open to both residents and non-residents, with a deadline of June 30th. (Non-Residents began applying starting May 6th.) "Random Daily Drawings" will then be held August 13 through September 9.

Non-Resident 2014 Archery Deer permits are expected to be available June 2nd - 30th. Applications will be accepted by Over-The-Counter (OTC) Sales, Online at Illinois DNR License Sales, or by phone at 1-888-6PERMIT.

Deer Management Open House Followup: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Wildlife Resources recently held five Deer Management Open Houses throughout the state. The purpose of these meetings was to inform Illinoisans about the deer management process in Illinois. In addition, attendees to these open houses were able to take a survey that addressed their attitudes and opinions about deer management in Illinois. For those unable to attend the open houses, IDNR has posted all information from the meetings online, and has provided an opportunity to fill out the deer management survey online, as well. Learn more From The IDNR

More Licenses, Permits, & Seasons!

Hunting Gear at Illinois Hunting Licenses:

Illinois hunting and fishing licenses expire on March 31 each year. The licenses for 2014 were 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 many have already completed their 2011 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

Apprentice Hunting License: The Apprentice Hunter License is a one-time, non-renewable license for residents and non-residents. It allows persons ages 10-17 to go hunting with a parent, grandparent or guardian who has a valid Illinois resident or non-resident hunting license.Those 18 and older will be able to go hunting with any family member or friend who is a validly licensed Illinois resident or non-resident hunter. A hunter safety course is not required to purchase this license. Apprentice License holders will also need the usual license extras, such as a habitat stamp if age 16 and over, and both state and federal duck stamps plus a HIP number if targeting waterfowl.. Learn More Note: the Apprentice License program is currently being expanded, and will no longer be non-renewable. More details will follow.

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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Our Mission is 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.


Our Feature Section

The 2009 feature section has been revised to a series of "special reports" instead of comprehensive looks at specialized topics. The first report of January 2009 covered Late-Season Upland Hunting Opportunities in Illinois. The second report concerned new Illinois Governor Quinn making some positive decisions regarding conservation and hunting initiatives in Illinois. The third report concerned a Request For Action By Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever as the Illinois Legislature wound down, and three major needs for wildlife remained.

The First Special Report of 2008 took a look at the hunting opportunities offered by a variety of upland hunting preserves located throughout Illinois. The Second Special Report of 2008 looked at the precarious status of the Controlled Pheasant Program on state sites. The Third Special Report of 2008 takes a look at the current controversies surrounding the 2008-2009 ILDNR budget.

In 2007, the feature section went undeveloped as other aspects of our site were enhanced. (and personal priorities were attended to...) Please keep in mind that is a small semi-commercial web publishing project, but we are honored that 5,000+ unique visitors each month come to our site for "useful information about hunting in Illinois." We know that our home page has become too "wordy" over time, and a new visual interface is being designed to help you cut through the links and go straight through to the information that you need. Please keep the questions and suggestions rolling....................

The 2006 feature section covered the process of applying for 2006 Illinois firearm and muzzleloader deer permits, and took a special look at public deer hunting opportunities in Illinois. These topics are scheduled for a review and new release prior to the 2010 seasons.

The 2005 Illinois Heritage Youth Turkey Season was the topic of our first IllinoisHunter feature section. Here you will find some facts about a special youth turkey hunt, learn about a related outreach project by a local NWTF chapter in Central Illinois, and read an exciting first-person hunt narrative written by a 13-year-old female hunter from Auburn, Illinois. 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. Jesse Staab photo 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!