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Illinois

Hunting

Deer Hunting Regulations

2021 FIREARM/MUZZLELOADER DEER HARVEST REPORTING & HUNTING REGULATIONS INFORMATION

Your deer permit entitles you to participate in the privilege of deer hunting. Please review this information to ensure that you comply with all the deer hunting regulations. While hunting, please respect the rules of good sportsmanship and the property of others. Have a safe and successful deer hunt.

Mandatory Deer Harvest Reporting

Successful deer hunters must register (report) their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer was taken by calling the toll-free telephone check-in system at 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-IL-CHECK) or by accessing the online check-in system: https://www.exploremoreil.com/... (For your convenience, this information is also printed on the front of your deer permit.)

Note to cell phone users: The most common reason hunters are unable to complete their harvest report is because of a poor cell phone connection. Once you have properly tagged your deer, wait until you are out of the woods and receive a clear, strong cell phone connection before placing your call.

TAGGING: The temporary harvest tag (leg tag) shall be attached and properly sealed immediately upon kill and before the deer is moved, transported or field dressed. No person shall leave any deer that has been killed without properly attaching the temporary harvest tag (leg tag) to the deer in the manner prescribed on the permit.

HARVEST REPORTING: Hunters must register (report) their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer was taken. When reporting, hunters will be asked a series of questions to help biologists manage Illinois’ deer population (additional information below). Before checking in your deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them. Please have a pen or pencil on hand when making the call (an extra-fine-tipped permanent marker works best). Upon completion, the hunter will be provided with a confirmation number to verify that he or she checked in the harvest. The confirmation number must be written by the hunter onto the temporary harvest tag (leg tag). If the condition of the tag precludes writing on the tag in the appropriate space (i.e., bloody, etc.), the confirmation number shall be written elsewhere on the tag, or onto a piece of paper and attached to the deer along with the temporary harvest tag (leg tag). The temporary harvest tag (leg tag) and confirmation number must remain attached to the deer until it is at the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed the deer, the deer has been checked in, and final processing is completed. The deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in.

In instances where deer are checked in while the hunter is still afield, the deer may not be dismembered while afield beyond quartering the animal. If quartered, all parts of the carcass (except the entrails removed during field dressing) must be transported together and evidence of sex must remain naturally attached to one quarter. Evidence of sex is:

A) For a buck: head with antlers attached to carcass, or attached testicle, scrotum, or penis

B) For a doe: head attached to carcass, or attached udder (mammary) or vulva.

If the head/antlers are delivered to a taxidermist for processing, the confirmation number must be recorded on the “head tag” portion of the permit, and both must remain with the deer while at the taxidermist. If the carcass is taken to a meat processor, the temporary harvest tag (leg tag) with confirmation number must remain with the deer while it is processed, and until it is at the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed the deer. Persons delivering deer/parts of deer to a tanner for processing must supply the tanner with either their deer permit number, their confirmation number, or a written certification by the person from whom the deer was received that the specimen was legally taken or obtained.

ANTLERED DEER - A deer having at least one antler of a length of 3 or more inches

ANTLERLESS DEER - A deer without antlers or a deer having antlers less than 3 inches long.

Notes:

  • Unfilled Property-Only Hunting (Landowner) Firearm Deer Permits are valid during the Muzzleloader Season (with a muzzleloading rifle) and during the Late-Winter and Special CWD Seasons (if open in that county).
  • Any unfilled Firearm or Muzzleloader permits except Special Hunt Area permits that were valid during the previous Firearm or Muzzleloader-Only Seasons are valid during the Late-Winter Antlerless-Only Firearm Season (if open in that county), but the holder may only harvest antlerless deer. Unfilled Youth Firearm Deer season permits, issued as part of the statewide Youth-Only Deer Hunting Season Pilot Program, are valid for all of the open Late-Winter Season counties, but the holder may only harvest antlerless deer.
  • Any unfilled Firearm or Muzzleloader permits except Special Hunt Area permits that were valid during the previous Firearm or Muzzleloader-Only Seasons are valid during the CWD Firearm Season (if open in that county). Unfilled Youth Firearm Deer Season permits, issued as part of the statewide Youth-Only Deer Hunting Season Pilot Program, are valid for all of the open CWD Season counties.
  • Hunters shall not have in their possession, while in the field during deer season, any deer permit issued to another person.
  • It is illegal to use salt, corn or any other kind of bait. An area is considered as baited during the presence of and for 10 consecutive days following the removal of bait. NOTE: Feeding deer is also illegal, although there are certain exemptions such as food plots. Consult the Hunting Digest for more complete information.
  • Permits will not be reissued in cases involving deer taken which are found to be diseased or spoiled due to previous injury. Legal disposal of unfit deer taken shall be the responsibility of the hunter.
  • In those counties where deer hunting is permitted, it is unlawful to hunt or trap any species protected by the Wildlife Code, except migratory waterfowl, unless the blaze orange or blaze pink clothing required for deer hunters is worn during the firearm deer seasons.
  • It is unlawful to take or attempt to take deer: a. in excess of the legal limit; b. during closed season; c. by use of dogs*, horses, automobiles, aircraft, boats or other vehicles. ***This does not prohibit the use of a leashed dog to track wounded deer.***
  • Totally white white-tailed deer are protected by Illinois Law and are illegal to kill.

FIREARM OWNERS I.D. CARD (Issued by Illinois State Police):

Regardless of who owns the gun, anyone who has a firearm, including muzzleloaders, or firearm ammunition in their possession must have in their possession a valid Firearm Owners’ I.D. (FOID) Card unless he or she is: a) A licensed out-of-state-sportsman hunting in Illinois, or b) Under the age of 21 and under the immediate control of a parent, guardian, or responsible adult who has in their possession a valid FOID Card.

For more FOID Card Information, contact ISP at 217-782-7980.

2021 FIREARM/MUZZLELOADER DEER HUNTING RULES AND REGULATIONS

SEASON DATES

  • 1st Firearm Season: Nov. 19 - 21, 2021
  • 2nd Firearm Season: Dec. 2 - 5, 2021
  • Muzzleloader-Only Season: Dec. 10 - 12, 2021 (Hunters may also use a muzzleloader permit with a muzzleloading rifle during 2nd Firearm Season Dec. 2 - 5, 2021)

HUNTING HOURS

One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Persons hunting deer must have gun unloaded during hours when deer hunting is unlawful. See “Legal Hunting Devices” for description of unloaded muzzleloader.

PERMIT, LICENSE, & HABITAT STAMP REQUIREMENTS

Permit: Before hunting, you must sign your permit. Your deer permit shall be carried on your person while hunting.

License: In addition to your deer permit, you must have a valid Illinois Hunting, Sportsmen, Youth or Apprentice License unless you are:

• A person who is disabled and able to show proof of disability in the form of one of the following:

a. A State Disabled Person I.D. card (available from the Secretary of State through the Drivers License
Examining Station) showing a P2, P2A, H2, or H2A disability

b. Veterans Disability card (at least 10% service related); available from local Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs offices.

OR unless you are:

• An Illinois resident on active duty and on leave from the U.S. Armed Forces.

• A landowner or tenant residing on farm lands, or the children, parents, brothers and sisters permanently residing on such lands, and hunting only the lands resided on. Landowners/Tenants are required to obtain a Habitat Stamp, unless exempt.

Habitat Stamp: Before any person 18 years of age or older takes, attempts to take, or pursues a deer, he or she shall first obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Disabled veterans and former prisoners of war shall not be required to obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Any person who obtained a Lifetime license before January 1, 1993, shall not be required to obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Licenses/stamps are available at IDNR Direct Automated License System agents, by phone at 1-888-6PERMIT or www.dnr.illinois.gov.

    CLOTHING

    Any person taking or attempting to take deer by use of a firearm shall wear, when in the field, a cap and upper outer garment of solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink color, displaying a minimum of 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material.

    IT IS UNLAWFUL:

    1. to possess any rifle in the field during firearm deer season EXCEPT muzzleloading rifles used by deer hunters only. No person may have in his possession any firearm not authorized by administrative rule for a specific hunting season when taking deer.
    2. for any person having taken the legal limit of deer by firearm to further participate with a firearm in any deer hunting party.
    3. to drive deer, or participate in a deer drive, on all Department-owned or managed properties. A deer drive is defined as a deliberate action by one or more persons (whether armed or unarmed) whose intent is to cause deer to move within firearm range of one or more participating hunters. For more details regarding deer hunting laws, please refer to the Hunting Digest; or contact the DNR Law Enforcement Office at 217-782-6431 or the Permit Office at 217-782-7305.

    LEGAL HUNTING DEVICES

    • Shotguns, loaded with slugs only, of not larger than 10 nor smaller than 20 gauge, not capable of firing more than 3 consecutive slugs; or
    • Single- or double-barreled muzzleloading rifles of at least .45 caliber shooting a single projectile through a barrel of at least 16 inches in length; or
    • Centerfire revolvers or centerfire single-shot handguns of .30 caliber or larger with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches; or
    • On private land only, archery equipment may be used with a FIREARM permit ONLY during the Firearm Seasons

    Nov. 19-21, 2021 & Dec. 2-5, 2021.

    Additional Muzzleloading Regulation

    • A muzzleloading rifle is defined as a rifle that is incapable of being loaded from the breech end.
    • Only black powder or a “black powder substitute” such as Pyrodex may be used. Modern smokeless powders (nitrocellulose-based) are an approved black powder substitute only in muzzleloading firearms that are specifically designed for their use.
    • Only percussion (cap or primer), wheellock, matchlock, flintlock or electronic ignition may be used.
    • Removal of percussion cap/primer; removal of prime powder from frizzen pan with frizzen open and hammer all the way down; removal of prime powder from flashpan and wheel unwound; removal of prime powder and match with match not lit; or removal of the battery from the electronic ignition shall constitute an unloaded muzzleloading rifle.

    LEGAL AMMUNITION

    • For shotguns and muzzleloading firearms, the minimum size of the projectile shall be .44 caliber. A wad or sleeve is not considered a projectile or a part of the projectile.
    • For handguns, a bottleneck centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger with a case length not exceeding 1.4 inches, or a straight- walled centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger, both of which must be available as a factory load with the published ballistic tables of the manufacturer showing a capability of at least 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.
    • Non-expanding, military-style full metal jacket bullets cannot be used to harvest white-tailed deer; only soft point or expanding bullets (including copper/copper-alloy rounds designed for hunting) are legal ammunition.

    HUNTING AREA

    The specific county or hunt area for which the permit is issued. Permission to hunt on private property must be obtained from the property owner or tenant. For Property-Only Hunting (landowner) permit holders, the hunting area is all land owned, leased or rented in the counties open for deer hunting. A hunting rights lease, or other non -agricultural lease, is not valid as a basis for obtaining a Property-Only Hunting permit.

    BAG LIMIT: One deer per legally authorized permit. No hunter, regard- less of the quantity or type of permits in his/her possession, may harvest more than 2 antlered deer during a year, including the Youth, Archery, Muzzleloader and Firearm Seasons. For purposes of this bag limit, deer seasons are considered to be in the same year if their opening dates fall within the same 12-month period that begins July 1. A hunter in possession of an either-sex permit after having harvested 2 antlered deer during a year may only use the permit to harvest an antlerless deer. Subject to this restriction, an either-sex permit holder is allowed to take a deer with or without antlers during the legal season. An antlerless-only permit holder is allowed to take only a deer without antlers or a deer having antlers less than 3 inches long during the legal season.

    2021 ARCHERY DEER HARVEST REPORTING AND HUNTING REGULATIONS INFORMATION

    Your deer permit entitles you to participate in the privilege of deer hunting. Please review this information to ensure that you comply with all the deer hunting regulations. While hunting, please respect the rules of good sportsmanship and the property of others. Have a safe and successful deer hunt.

    Mandatory Deer Harvest Reporting

    Successful deer hunters must register (report) their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer was taken by calling the toll-free telephone check-in system at 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-IL-CHECK) or by accessing the online check-in system: https://www.exploremoreil.com/... (For your convenience, this information is also printed on the front of your deer permit.)

    Note to cell phone users: The most common reason hunters are unable to complete their harvest report is because of a poor cell phone connection. Once you have properly tagged your deer, wait until you are out of the woods and receive a clear, strong cell phone connection before placing your call.

    TAGGING: Immediately upon kill and before the deer is moved, transported or field dressed, the hunter must detach the appropriate leg tag from the permit to invalidate it and attach the tag to the leg using his/her own fastener through the holes provided (see Figure 1). A head tag is also provided to hunters which must be used if the head or antlers is delivered to a taxidermist. The deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in.

    HARVEST REPORTING: Hunters must register (report) their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer was taken. When reporting, hunters will be asked a series of questions to help biologists manage Illinois’ deer population (additional information below). Before checking in your deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them. Please have a pen or pencil on hand when making the call (an extra-fine-tipped permanent marker works best). Upon completion, the hunter will be provided with a confirmation number to verify that he or she checked in the harvest. The confirmation number must be written by the hunter onto the temporary harvest tag (leg tag). If the condition of the tag precludes writing on the tag in the appropriate space (i.e., bloody, etc.), the confirmation number shall be written elsewhere on the tag, or onto a piece of paper and attached to the deer along with the temporary harvest tag (leg tag). The temporary harvest tag (leg tag) and confirmation number must remain attached to the deer until it is at the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed the deer, the deer has been checked in, and final processing is completed. The deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in.

    In instances where deer are checked in while the hunter is still afield, the deer may not be dismembered while afield beyond quartering the animal. If quartered, all parts of the carcass (except the entrails removed during field dressing) must be transported together and evidence of sex must remain naturally attached to one quarter. Evidence of sex is:

    A) For a buck: head with antlers attached to carcass, or attached testicle, scrotum, or penis

    B) For a doe: head attached to carcass, or attached udder (mammary) or vulva.

    If the head/antlers are left with a taxidermist, the confirmation number must be recorded on the “head tag” portion of the permit, and both must remain with the deer. If the carcass is taken to a meat processor, the temporary harvest tag (leg tag) with confirmation number must remain with the deer while it is processed, and until it is at the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed the deer. Persons delivering deer/parts of deer to a tanner must supply the tanner with either their deer permit number, their confirmation number, or written certification by the person from whom the deer was received that the specimen was legally taken or obtained.

    Harvest reporting questions will include your permit number, the county or special hunt area of harvest, and the season in which you are hunting. You will also be asked the following questions. It will be helpful if you fill in the answers on this sheet before making the call. Use the ruler on the back of your permit to make any necessary measurements.

    • Select the type of deer that you harvested: (1) a buck with antlers; (2) a buck without antlers; or (3) a doe.
    • Was your deer a fawn last summer or is it an adult?
    • How many bobcats did you see while hunting this location during this season?
    • How many turkeys did you see while hunting this location during this season?
    • How many wild pigs did you see while hunting in this county during this season?

    Measure the distance in MILLIMETERS from the rear edge of the nostril opening to the front corner of the eye (Fig. 3).

    Additional Questions For Bucks With Antlers Only:

    • How many antler points at least 25 mm long are present?
      Count the total number of points on both beams, including the tip of the main beam.
    • Measure the circumference in MILLIMETERS around the thickest antler beam one inch above the base.
    • If the brow tine interferes with this measurement, take the measurement just below the brow tine. (Fig. 2)

    ANTLERED DEER - A deer having at least one antler of a length of 3 or more inches

    ANTLERLESS DEER - A deer without antlers or a deer having antlers less than 3 inches long.

    2021 ARCHERY DEER HUNTING RULES AND REGULATIONS

    SEASON DATES

    • In Cook, DuPage, Lake and that portion of Kane County east of State Route 47: Oct. 1, 2021 - Jan. 16, 2022
    • In all other counties and that portion of Kane County west of State Route 47: Oct. 1, 2021 - Jan. 16, 2022 EXCEPT archery hunting is CLOSED during Firearm Deer Seasons Nov. 19 - 21, 2021 & Dec. 2 - 5, 2021.

    Archery deer hunting is OPEN during

    • Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season (Dec. 10 - 12, 2021)
    • Youth Firearm Deer Season (Oct. 9 - 11, 2021)
    • Late Winter Deer Season (Dec. 30, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022 and Jan. 14 - 16, 2022)
    • CWD Deer Season (Dec. 30, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022 and Jan. 14 - 16, 2022)

    ILLINOIS RESTRICTED ARCHERY ZONE

    The Illinois Restricted Archery Zone shall consist of Champaign, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties. During the period October 1 - October 15, only antlered deer may be harvested in the Restricted Archery Zone, regardless of permits in possession. An antlered deer is defined as a deer having at least one antler of a length of 3 or more inches.

    HUNTING HOURS

    One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. No bow and arrow device shall be carried with the arrow in the nocked position during hours when deer hunting is unlawful.

    PERMIT, LICENSE, & HABITAT STAMP REQUIREMENTS

    Permit: Before hunting, you must sign your permit. Your deer permit shall be carried on your person while hunting.

    License: In addition to your deer permit, you must have a valid Illinois Hunting, Sportsmen, Youth or Apprentice License unless you are:

    • A person who is disabled and able to show proof of disability in the form of one of the following:

    a. A State Disabled Person I.D. card (available from the Secretary of State through the Drivers License
    Examining Station) showing a P2, P2A, H2, or H2A disability

    b. Veterans Disability card (at least 10% service related); available from local Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs offices.

    OR unless you are:

    • An Illinois resident on active duty and on leave from the

    U.S. Armed Forces.

    • A landowner or tenant residing on farm lands, or the children, parents, brothers and sisters permanently residing on such lands, and hunting only the lands resided on. Landowners/ Tenants are required to obtain a Habitat Stamp, unless exempt.

    Habitat Stamp: Before any person 18 years of age or older takes, attempts to take, or pursues a deer, he or she shall first obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Disabled veterans and former prisoners of war shall not be required to obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Any person who obtained a Lifetime license before January 1, 1993, shall not be required to obtain a State Habitat Stamp. Licenses/ stamps are available at IDNR Direct Automated License System agents, by phone at 1-888-6PERMIT or www.dnr.illinois.gov.

    HUNTING DEVICES

    The only legal hunting devices to take or attempt to take deer are: 1. Crossbows. Crossbows used in hunting shall meet all of the

    following specifications:
    a) shall use a bowstring to propel the bolt or arrow and have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds;
    b) have a minimum length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches;
    c) have a working safety;
    d) be used with fletched bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length (not including point).

    2. Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows with minimum pull of 30 pounds at some point within a 28-inch draw. Minimum arrow length is 20 inches. Any mechanical device capable of maintaining a drawn or partially drawn position on a bow without the hunter exerting full string tension is illegal.

    Broadheads must be used for archery deer hunting. Broadheads may have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces, but they must be a minimum 7/8 inch in diameter when fully opened. Broadheads with fixed cutting surfaces must be metal or flint-, chert-, or obsidian- knapped; broadheads with expandable cutting surfaces must be metal.

    All other hunting devices, including electronic arrow tracking devices utilizing radio telemetry, are illegal.

    HUNTING AREA

    All Illinois counties. Permission to hunt on private property must be obtained from the property owner or tenant. For Property-Only Hunting permit holders, the hunting area is all of the land owned, leased or rented in counties open for deer hunting. A hunting rights lease, or other non-agricultural lease, is not valid as a basis for obtaining a POH permit.

    CLOTHING

    No special clothing is required, EXCEPT during any gun deer seasons that are open concurrently with the Archery Season. These include:

    • Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season (Dec. 10 - 12, 2021)
    • Youth Firearm Deer Season (Oct. 9 - 11, 2021)
    • Late Winter Deer Season (Dec. 30, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022 & Jan. 14 - 16, 2022)
    • CWD Deer Season (Dec. 30, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022 & Jan. 14 - 16, 2022)
    • and on those IDNR sites that allow archery deer hunting during the Firearm Deer Season (Nov. 19 - 21, 2021 & Dec. 2 - 5, 2021)

    Any person taking or attempting to take deer by use of a bow and arrow shall wear, when in the field, a cap and upper outer garment of solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink color, displaying a minimum of 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material in all Illinois counties open to those seasons.

    BAG LIMIT: One deer per legally authorized permit. No hunter, regardless of the quantity or type of permits in his/her possession, may harvest more than 2 antlered deer during a year, including the Youth, Archery, Muzzleloader and Firearm Seasons. For purposes of this bag limit, deer seasons are considered to be in the same year if their opening dates fall within the same 12-month period that begins July 1. A hunter in possession of an either-sex permit after having harvested 2 antlered deer during a year may only use the permit to harvest an antlerless deer. Subject to this restriction, an either-sex permit holder is allowed to take a deer with or without antlers during the legal season. An antlerless-only permit holder is allowed to take only a deer without antlers or a deer having antlers less than 3 inches long during the legal season.