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Illinois Hunting Guide

turkeys in illinois corn field

Despite being home to one of the nation’s major metropolitan centers, Illinois offers large amounts of natural, preserved land that support a variety of popular game species.

What to Hunt

Illinois’ diverse landscape supports many types of game, both large and small.



Illinois limits deer hunting to shotgun and muzzle-loading rifles only. Deer tags are fairly easy to obtain each season. A healthy deer population means that most hunters will have success in Illinois. Lotteries occur in the spring and summer, with the first lottery being limited to Illinois residents. Illinois has a bag limit of two antlered deer per year, and there is no limit on does.



Illinois has leased 15,000 acres for turkey hunting from private landowners in 39 Illinois counties. Illinois wild turkeys are of the Eastern subspecies. There is a limited lottery drawing for turkey tags in the state. Illinois has both fall and spring seasons for turkeys, though not all counties are open for both fall and spring seasons. Harvested turkeys must be registered before they are field dressed or butchered. Hunters can use shotguns, compound or traditional bows, or crossbows.



Illinois’ wetlands offer a substantial amount of waterfowl hunting, including geese, rails, ducks, teal, snipe, coots, Bluebills, geese, and mergansers. Most of the duck hunting can be found around the Illinois River. Hunters will need state and federal migratory waterfowl stamps. Hunters may use shotguns of at least 10 gauge with a barrel between 17-26” and a total capacity of three or fewer shells. Hunters may also use vertical compound bows, traditional bows, or crossbows.


Upland Game Birds

Pheasant and quail hunting are both available in rural Illinois, particularly the middle and south of the state. Hunters may also target doves, partridge, woodcock, and crow. There is no limit on crow; doves have a daily limit of 15; and the other limits run from 2-8 per day. Hunters may use shotguns of at least 10 gauge. Hunters may also use vertical compound bows or traditional bows, but crossbows are not permitted for upland birds.

Other Illinois game species include: Coyote, Striped Skunk, Woodchuck, Squirrel, Doves, Canada Geese, Common Snipe, Rails, Ducks, Mergansers, Coots, Light Geese, Brant, White-Fronted Geese, Crow, Woodcock, Rabbits, Pheasant, Quail, Partridge, Bobcat, Foxes, Opossums, Raccoon, etc. found in the "Hunting Seasons" section at bottom of the page

Where to Hunt

Illinois has allotted different types of areas for hunting and outdoor recreation. These are subject to their own restrictions and regulations.

Public Hunting Areas

Only a small portion of Illinois is legally considered public land. But, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has designated Public Hunting Areas around the state. Site-specific permits may be needed for some of these areas.

Illinois Recreational Access Program

Private landowners in Illinois have the option to lease their land to the Department of Natural Resources. The public is then allowed to hunt in these areas, but hunting may be subject to individual, varied restrictions in IRAP areas.

Licensed Hunting Preserves

Hunting preserves are licensed hunting areas that offer hunting for a variety of game species during limited hunting seasons. These preserves may feature all of the state’s game birds, or they may specialize in one or two. Licensed hunting preserves provide high-quality hunting in natural environments. These areas often require a fee.

Licensing Fees

Anyone wishing to hunt in Illinois is required to obtain a hunting license.

License Resident Nonresident
​Hunting License ​$12.50 ​$57.75
​Non-Resident Hunting License (5 day) ​N/A ​$35.75
​Lifetime Hunting License ​$360.00 ​N/A
​Senior Hunting License ​$6.50 ​N/A
​Veteran Hunting License ​$6.50 ​N/A
​Hunting Apprentice License ​$7.50 ​N/A
​Youth Hunting -18 & under ​$7.50 ​N/A

Hunter Education

Any person born on or after January 1, 1980 must successfully complete a hunting education course before being issued a hunting license. There are three ways to take the course: in-person, online and in-person combined, or online only. Note that the online-only course is only available for hunters over 18 years old.

A hunting education course is not required for youth hunting licenses.

Youth Hunting

Any hunter under the age of 18 must obtain a youth hunting license. The Youth Hunting License allows the youth to hunt while supervised by an adult who is at least 21 years of age and has a valid Illinois hunting license. No hunting education is required to obtain this license.


The following species are all considered furbearers in the state of Illinois: badger, beaver, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, red fox, river otter, striped skunk and weasel. A trapping license is required to take any of these animals by means of a trap. To obtain a trapping license, a trapping education course must be completed.

Hunting Seasons

Game Season
Deer (fall)* Oct 1 2023 - Jan 14 2024
Coyote/Striped Skunk Open year round
Woodchuck year round
Squirrel* Aug 1 2023 - Feb 15 2024
Doves Sep 1 2023 - Nov 14 2023
Dec 26 2023 - Jan 9 2024
Canada Geese* Oct 21 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Common Snipe Sep 9 2023 - Dec 24 2023
Rails Sep 9 2023 - Nov 17 2023
Teal Ducks/td> Sep 9 2023 - Sep 24 2023
Turkey* Sep 9 2023 - Dec 24 2023
Apr 3 2023 - May 4 2023
Ducks/Mergansers/Coots* Oct 21 2023 - Jan 30 2024
Light Geese/Brant* Oct 21 2023 - Jan 31 2024
White-Fronted Geese* Oct 23 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Crow* Oct 28 2023 - Feb 28 2024
Woodcock Oct 21 2023 - Dec 4 2023
Rabbits Nov 4 2023 - Feb 15 2024
Pheasant/Quail/Partridge* Nov 4 2023 - Jan 15 2024
Bobcat/Foxes/Opossums/Raccoon* Nov 10 2023 - Feb 15 2024
Conservation Order Light Geese Jan 20 2023 - Apr 30 2023

*Hunting dates for this species may vary by zone, method of take, or subspecies of animal. Visit the state’s website at to find out more.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information.