Wildlife Illinois

Hunt Planner

Announcements

IDNR ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF 2020 CWD CHECK STATIONS

Deer

Season Dates & Limits

SEASON DATES HOURS LIMIT ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS
Archery
(Counties with a firearm season and west of Route 47 in Kane County)
1 Oct–19 Nov and 23 Nov–2 Dec and 7 Dec 2020–17 Jan 2021 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset One deer per archery permit ** See footnote below
Archery
(Cook, DuPage, Lake and Kane [east of route 47] Counties)
1 Oct 2020–17 Jan 2021 One deer per archery permit ** See footnote below
Firearm
(Shotgun, Muzzleloader, Handgun)
20–22 Nov and 3–6 Dec 2020 One deer per firearm permit ** See footnote below
Muzzleloader only 11–13 Dec 2020 One deer per muzzleloader permit ** See footnote below
Special CWD 31 Dec 2020–3 Jan 2021 and 15–17 Jan 2021 One deer per valid permit Antlered deer limit in footnote below does NOT apply to this season
Late-Winter Antlerless-only
(Shotgun, Muzzleloader, Handgun)
31 Dec 2020–3 Jan 2021 and 15–17 Jan 2021 One antlerless deer per permit ** See footnote below
Youth Firearm 10–12 Oct 2020 One deer ** See footnote below
**No hunter, regardless of the quantity or type of permits in his/her possession, may harvest more than two antlered deer during a year, including the youth, archery, muzzleloader and firearm seasons. For the purpose of this harvest limit, deer seasons are considered to be in the same year if their opening dates are within the same 12-month period that begins July 1

Licenses & Permits

Licenses & Stamps

Permits & Lotteries

  • Archery Permits
    • Residents
      • No limit
      • Purchase at vendors or online (no lottery)
    • Non-residents
      • Can apply for and receive only one archery combination permit per license year. A non-resident landowner who has obtained landowner archery permits is also eligible for one combination non-resident archery permit
      • Applications accepted 1-30 June online
      • Any permits remaining after the drawing will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis
  • Firearm/Muzzleloader Deer Permits for IDNR Sites
    • First Lottery 
      • Application dates: Early Mar-30 Apr 2021
      • Available to residents only
      • Apply online
    • Second Lottery 
      • Application dates: Early May-30 Jun 2021
      • Available to: unsuccessful residents from the first lottery, residents that did not apply in the first lottery, and non-residents
      • Apply online
    • Third Lottery 
      • Application dates: 1 Jul-16 Aug 2021
      • Available to: anyone can apply for one or more permits in this lottery
      • Apply online
    • Over-the-Counter period
      • Permits remaining after the lotteries will be available at vendors on a first-come first-served basis beginning at 8 am on 20 Oct 2020
      • Permits will remain available until reserved permit quotas are depleted or until 72 hours prior to the hunt date.
      • Maximum of 5 permits total
    • To receive a hard copy application for a firearm or muzzleloader deer hunting permit, contact the IDNR Springfield permit office at (217) 782-7305
  • Late Winter Anterless-only Permits
    • Application dates: 27 Oct-23 Nov 2020
    • Available to: residents only
    • Can use: shotgun, handgun or muzzleloading rifle
      • Hunters with valid, unused permits from the previous firearm, muzzleloader or youth seasons may use only the weapons allowed by that permit in those respective seasons
    • Permits are only applicable to Special Hunt Areas (IDNR sites) and counties open to this season
    • Permits remaining after lottery only available to residents over-the-counter at vendors starting early December
    • Apply online
  • CWD Permits
    • Application dates: 27 Oct-23 Nov 2020 (residents only)
    • Can use: shotgun, handgun or muzzleloading rifle
    • Hunters with valid, unused permits from the previous firearm, muzzleloader or youth seasons may use only the weapons allowed by that permit in those respective seasons.
    • Permits (either-sex) are only applicable to Special Hunt Areas (IDNR sites) and counties with CWD
    • Some state sites are issued by lottery (see Firearm permits above) but open counties are issued over the counter.
    • Permits (antlerless only) remaining after lottery available to residents and non-residents over-the-counter at vendors in early December
    • Apply online
  • Youth Deer Permits
    • Application dates: 31 Aug-1 Oct 2020
    • Available to: residents and non-residents
    • Youth hunter is limited to one either-sex deer permit that is valid statewide, except the closed area of Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties and that portion of Kane County east of State Route 47
    • Purchase permit over-the-counter at vendors or online starting in early August through last day of youth season
  • Landowner Deer Permits
    • Resident landowners or tenants (including those leasing land) of land of 39.5 acres or more can apply for free firearm or archery deer permits. Permits are a combination of one either-sex permit and one antlerless permit
    • Non-resident landowners or tenants (including those leasing land) of 39.5 acres or more can receive the same permits, but for a fee
    • See list of permit application options on the IDNR permits page here
  • Outfitter Permits and Regulations
    • See IDNR Law Enforcement information here

Season Specific Regulations

  • Be sure to check regulations for the IDNR site(s) you intend to hunt, as some sites have more restrictive regulations on equipment, harvest reporting, etc. You can find site-specific regulations using the Directory or Hunt Planner
  • Full details on deer hunting can be found in the Statewide Hunting Regulations

Archery Season

  • Can use:
    • Vertical compound bow, traditional bow (recurve or longbow)
      • Minimum pull of 30 pounds at some point within a 28-inch draw
      • Arrows must be at least 20 inches long (not including point)
    • Crossbows
      • Minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds
      • Minimum length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches
      • Has a working safety
      • Fletched bolts or arrows must be at least 14 inches long (not including point)
    • Points (all bows)
      • Broadheads must have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces and a minimum ⅞ 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
  • Clothing requirements: None. But hunters using archery during other seasons should be mindful of blaze clothing requirements
  • 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. A head tag is also provided to hunters which must be used if the head or antlers is delivered to a taxidermist. Deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in.
  • Harvest Reporting: Successful deer hunters must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them.
  • Download Archery Deer Harvest Reporting and Hunting Regulations Information Sheet

Firearm Season

  • Can use:
    • Shotgun
      • Must use shotgun of gauge 10 or larger (e.g., 12 or 20 gauge)
      • Barrel length shall not be less than 18 inches, and the overall length shall not be less than 26 inches
      • Must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Any shotgun having a capacity of more than 3 shells must be fitted with a one-piece plug that is irremovable without dismantling the shotgun or otherwise altered to render it incapable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined
      • Minimum size of the projectile of .44 caliber
    • Muzzleloader
      • 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. Scope is allowed
      • Definition of what qualifies as a muzzleloader can be found in the Equipment section here
    • Handgun
      • Centerfire revolvers or centerfire single-shot handguns of .30 caliber or larger with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches
      • Must use 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 at least 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. There is no case length limit for straight-walled cartridges
    • Archery
      • Vertical, traditional and crossbows can only be used on private property during this season. See equipment specifications in the archery season section above.
  • Clothing requirements: A solid blaze orange or blaze pink cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material must be worn
  • 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. A head tag is also provided to hunters which must be used if the head or antlers is delivered to a taxidermist. Deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in
  • Harvest Reporting: Successful deer hunters in counties without CWD surveillance must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them
  • Successful hunters tagging a deer with their muzzleloader deer permit during the second weekend of the firearm season may, at their option, report their harvest either electronically or at a designated firearm deer check station by 8 pm on the day the deer was killed
  • Mandatory check stations: Deer harvested during firearm season in counties with CWD surveillance (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, LaSalle, Livingston, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will, and Winnebago) need to be physically registered at a designated check station on the same day it was killed between 8 am and 8 pm. Check station locations are listed on the map below and can be downloaded in the Firearm Deer Hunting Information for CWD Counties information sheet

Firearm Deer Check Stations Map

Muzzleloader Season

  • Can use:
    • Single or double barreled muzzleloading rifle of at least .45 caliber shooting a single projectile through a barrel of at least 16 inches in length. A wad or sleeve is not considered a projectile or a part of the projectile. Scope is allowed
    • Definition of what qualifies as a muzzleloader can be found in the Equipment section here
    • Legal archery equipment can be used during this season, but archery permits must be used and blaze orange/pink rules apply
  • Clothing requirements: A solid blaze orange or blaze pink cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material must be worn
  • 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. 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: Successful deer hunters must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them. Telephone check-in: 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-IL-CHECK)
  • Online check-in
  • Download a PDF of the Firearm/Muzzleloader Deer Harvest Reporting & Hunting Regulations Information Sheet

Special CWD Season

  • Can use:
    • Any legal firearms, muzzleloader or handgun as specified in the Firearm Season section above
    • Legal archery equipment can be used during this season, but archery permits must be used and blaze orange/pink rules apply
  • Counties Open: see map below

Download a PDF of the Late Winter and CWD map

  • Clothing requirements: A solid blaze orange or blaze pink cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material must be worn
  • Note: two antlered deer limit does not apply to this season
  • 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. A head tag is also provided to hunters which must be used if the head or antlers is delivered to a taxidermist. Deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in
  • Harvest Reporting: Successful deer hunters must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them.
  • Download a PDF of the Firearm Deer Hunting Information for CWD Counties

Late Winter Antlerless-only Season

  • Can use:
    • Any legal firearms, muzzleloader or handgun as specified in the Firearm Season section above
    • Youth hunters can only use a shotgun or muzzleloader
    • Legal archery equipment can be used during this season, but archery permits must be used and blaze orange/pink rules apply
  • Clothing requirements: A solid blaze orange or blaze pink cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material must be worn
  • Counties Open: see map below

Download a PDF of the Late Winter and CWD map

  • 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. A head tag is also provided to hunters which must be used if the head or antlers is delivered to a taxidermist. Deer must remain whole (or field dressed) until it has been checked in.
  • Harvest Reporting: Successful deer hunters must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them.
  • Download Late-Winter Deer Hunting Permit Information

Youth Firearm Season

  • Eligability:
    • Youth must be less than 18 years of age on first day of hunt
    • Permit available to resident and nonresident youth, limit of 1 either-sex deer permit
    • Permit is valid on private land statewide, with landowner permission, or on public sites open to this season. See PDF list of open public sites here
  • Can use:
    • Shotgun or muzzleloader following specifications in the Firearm Season section above
  • Supervision: each youth hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult that is in immediate control of the youth hunter at all times during the hunt. The adult must have a current Illinois hunting license if a non-resident or if the youth is using an Apprentice or Youth hunting license
  • Clothing requirements: A solid blaze orange or blaze pink cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material must be worn by the youth hunter and the supervisor
  • 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. 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: Successful deer hunters must report their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day the deer was taken using the toll-free telephone check-in system or accessing the online check-in system as below. Before reporting your harvested deer, please look over the questions listed on the back of your permit and be prepared to answer them. Telephone check-in: 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-IL-CHECK)
  • Online check-in
  • Download a PDF of the Youth Deer Hunting Information Sheet

Management & Ecology

The IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources is tasked with restoring, managing, and protecting white-tailed deer and their habitats. Deer were nearly extirpated from Illinois due to overharvest by the end of the 19th century but today deer are primarily managed via regulated hunting seasons and harvest quotas.

Management: Wildlife management involves balancing ecological principles with human interests. IDNR incorporates information on harvest trends, hunter success, deer vehicle collisions, and agricultural damage to set county-wide harvest quotas. More information is available here about Illinois deer management.

Ecology: Effective white-tailed deer harvest strategies require in-depth knowledge of the species’ ecology including behavior, food and habitat preferences, and disease dynamics. More information on these topics, and others, can be found at White-tailed Deer Illinois.

Disease

White-tailed deer are subject to several wildlife diseases that vary in their impact on humans, livestock, other wildlife, and deer populations. More information is available here about white-tailed deer diseases and parasites.

Illinois hunters are encouraged to report sick or dead deer to IDNR. Additionally, if abnormalities are detected while field dressing a harvested deer and there are concerns about consuming the meat, hunters should contact an IDNR District Wildlife Biologist.

Hunters should be particularly aware of the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in counties of northern IL. Hunters are required to check their deer during firearm seasons in those counties.  Find more information concerning check stations here.

Samples can be submitted from any county and will be tested by IDNR for CWD. We partner with taxidermists  and meat processing facilities to encourage statewide testing. Yearly results and an overview of CWD occurrence in Illinois can be found here.

Additional Resources