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Hunting Programs & Safety Courses

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Safety Courses

Hunter Safety

Course Requirements

Who Must Take the Course?

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 may not be issued a resident or non-resident Illinois hunting license unless he/she presents a valid Hunter Safety Education Certificate issued by the Illinois DNR-Safety Education Division or another state. Have your unique identification code on your certificate ready when purchasing your license. Hunters purchasing an Apprentice or Youth license are not required to have completed Hunter Safety. Residents note that an Illinois Hunter Safety Education Certificate is accepted by all other states.

Find your existing Illinois safety certification number here.

Take a Course

Instructor-led

The traditional and preferred hunter education method is through a 10-hour instructor-led class and demonstrations. Classes may be a few hours a night for 2–4 nights or a full weekend class. The educational material is based on a sixth-grade reading level. This type of class is FREE, unless there is some special activity provided that the person may choose to participate in. Individuals may participate in any scheduled class throughout the state. The final part of the class will end with a test to pass the course, with individuals completing the minimum 10 hours of instruction and final examination receiving a State of Illinois Hunter Safety Education Certificate.

Call 1-800-832-2599 or check List of Classes by County

Online

Online Self-Study / Field Day course

This option is provided by outside companies, and there is a fee charged for the service. The Illinois authorized providers arewww.huntercourse.com or www.hunter-ed.com

  • Persons 17 years old and younger may study and complete each section of the course online, taking exams as they proceed. The person must also attend a Field Day which includes hands-on participation and a final exam. Persons under age 10 must be accompanied to and during the safety education courses by an adult or guardian at least 16 years of age. Persons passing the online and Field Day will receive a Hunter Safety Education Certificate. A list of Field Day classes can be found here and details of online/Field Day courses can be found here.
  • Persons 18 years old or older may complete the online course and receive your Hunter Safety Education Certificate.

Trapper Safety

Consists of a minimum 8 hours of instruction. These courses cover the basics in: 

  • equipment and trapping techniques
  • trap and pelt preparation
  • wildlife and furbearer management
  • reporting requirements
  • trapper ethics
  • game identification and state regulations

Course is designed to teach new or inexperienced trappers the most ethical and humane procedures for trapping Illinois furbearers. In addition to basic techniques, it is also important that the trapper understand the unique role that trapping has played in the history of our state and nation. We believe that the trappers create a good image only by being responsible and ethical users of our fur resources. Trappers should also understand the principles of wildlife management and should cooperate with landowners, other sportsmen and managers of public natural resources. This course, taught by certified instructors, is designed to provide a solid beginning to your trapping education – an education that will continue every day you are on your trapline. Persons completing the minimum 8 hours of instruction and successfully completing the final examination will receive a State of Illinois Certificate of Competency.

The Trapper Education Manual is used in Illinois trapper education courses and is available for download as a PDF.

Course Requirements

Who Must Take The Course?

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1998, is required to complete a trapper education course before purchasing a trapping license.

Find your existing Illinois safety certification number here.

Take a Course

Instructor led

The traditional and preferred trapper education method is through an 8 hour instructor-led class and demonstrations. Classes are usually 1 day and held on a weekend. The class will end with a test to pass the course.

Call 1-800-832-2599 or check List of Classes by County

Courses are sponsored by various conservation clubs, park districts, public service organizations and other interest groups.

Online

Individuals may study course material online and complete each section of the course online. At the completion of the course the individual must successfully complete an online exam and will be able to print off a certificate verifying their assigned Trapper Education number. To take the online course click here: Trapper Education Course. If you need proof of certification, contact Chas via email at chas@djcase.com or 1-574-258-0100.

Boating Safety

Hunters are encouraged to take the Boating Safety course. Youth hunters, particularly those hunting waterfowl, will need to successfully pass a boating safety course if planning to use a boat to hunt.

IDNR Target Ranges

Hunting Access (IRAP)

One of the more challenging issues facing the Department of Natural Resources is providing public outdoor recreational access and opportunities. Illinois ranks 46th in the nation for publicly owned land with more than 97% of the land in private ownership.

In order to carry on our outdoor traditions, we need to connect youth and families to the land. IDNR has created the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) to help meet this need.

Since IRAP’s inception in 2011, more than 24,000 acres in 51 counties have been leased for outdoor recreational activities. Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts have accessed these sites for turkey, deer, rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, quail and waterfowl hunting as well as pond and riverbank fishing. For many its been their “first” time hunting experience creating great memories.

Who Can Apply?

Any legally licensed hunter who has completed their hunter safety course (if born in 1980 or after) and who complies with all Illinois hunting laws.

  • Youth (under age 18) All youth hunters must have a non-hunting supervisor
  • First-time Adult (18 years or older and have not hunted in past five years)
  • Adult (any qualified hunter)
  • Resident or non-resident

See the full IRAP website to apply and get program updates

Hunting Opportunities

Turkey Hunting

  • Youth Season
    • Youth under 18 years of age may apply for an IRAP youth turkey site online. Successful applicants will receive confirmation (site permit, map, etc.) from IRAP 3 weeks prior to the start of youth turkey season. Once IRAP has confirmed a site, then the youth hunter can purchase an over-the counter youth turkey permit
    • Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult over the age of 21
  • Spring 3rd & 4th Periods
    • An applicant must first obtain a county specific turkey permit through the IDNR permit system (lottery) for one of the available IRAP counties. Once an IDNR turkey permit is awarded, then immediately complete an IRAP turkey hunting application to reserve a hunting site. Sites are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis
  • Where?
    • IRAP has leased more than 20,000 acres for turkey hunting from private landowners in 43 Illinois counties.  Most the sites are at least 40 acres, and all have been evaluated for turkey activity to provide the highest possibility for a good hunting experience

Archery Deer Hunting

  • How?
  • Applicants must complete an application online along with the liability waiver and non-hunting adult (if applicable) forms
  • Only successful applicants will be notified by mail at least 3 weeks prior to the IRAP hunting period and given driving directions, and a site-specific map and permit allowing them to hunt on the private property
  • Where?
    • IRAP leases land from private landowners throughout Illinois. Currently there are more than 260 hunting sites/opportunities available and average around 40 acres in size
  • When?
    • IRAP archery deer occurs in months of October and December. Each hunter will have approximately 15 days to scout and hunt deer on their assigned site
    • Hunting Period 1 is October 1–15
    • Hunting Period 2 is October 16–31
    • Hunting Period 3 is December 16–31

Youth Shotgun Deer Hunting

  • How?
    • Youth hunters under the age of 18 may apply for an IRAP archery deer site by completing an application along with the liability waiver and non-hunting adult forms
    • Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult over the age of 21
    • Only successful applicants will be notified by mail at least 3 weeks prior to the IRAP hunting period and given driving directions, and a site-specific map and permit allowing them to hunt on the private property
  • Where?
    • IRAP leases land from private landowners throughout Illinois
  • When?
    • Hunt allowed on Columbus Day Weekend in October, Saturday-Monday (3 Days) with 7 days of scouting prior to the 3-day hunt

Waterfowl Hunting

  • How?
    • A participant must first complete and submit an application to IRAP at least 21 days before the hunt dates requested
    • Most hunting sites are furnished with a blind that can accommodate a group of four hunters
    • If sending in as a group, each individual hunter must fill out an application, sign the liability waiver, and send in all the group’s applications together
    • Sites are reserved for five consecutive days per hunting group
    • Successful applicants will be sent a site permit packet with instructions, driving directions, a map, and site permit
  • Where?
    • There is limited availability for hunting sites. They are available on a first-come, first-serve basis
  • When?
    • November 1 until December 31

Upland Game Hunting

  • How?
    • A participant must first complete and submit an application to IRAP at least 30 days before the hunt dates requested
    • Each hunting site can accommodate a group of 4 hunters and their dogs
    • If sending in as a group, each individual hunter must fill out an application, sign the liability waiver, and send in all the group’s applications together
    • Successful applicants will be sent a site permit packet with instructions, driving directions, a map, and two site permits, one for your vehicle and a smaller one to carry on your person
    • All hunters must report their harvest success to IRAP’s hotline within 48 hours
  • Where?
    • IRAP has leased private property for quail and pheasant hunting in several counties throughout Illinois
  • When?
    • Sites are available the last three weekends in December and are awarded for 2-days per hunter/group. There is limited availability for hunting sites. Lotteries may be held for each site

Small Game Hunting

  • How?
    • Registering to hunt small game through the IRAP is easy- just follow these four simple steps:
    • Step 1: A participant must first register online and receive an IRAP participant ID Number
    • Step 2: During the registration process, the participant must agree to and sign the Liability Waiver
    • Step 3: Once the IRAP participant is registered, he or she may go to IRAP’s reservation system and make up to three reservations at a time for small game sites
    • Step 4: When a reservation is complete, you will be instructed to print your IRAP Reservation Site Permit for your vehicle and a smaller one to carry on your person
    • If a child is accompanying an adult, they too must register
  • Where?
    • Over 3,500 acres available in numerous counties in Illinois
  • When?
    • Squirrel hunting from August 1–September 30
    • Rabbit hunting from December 10–December 31

Conservation

Using VPA-HIP grant funds from the federal Farm Bill, IDNR is helping private landowners to protect and restore their land. Landowners who chose to lease their property to IRAP will have a comprehensive habitat/forestry management plan written and be eligible for assistance to implement habitat restoration projects.

IRAP has its boots on the ground with more than 70 habitat/forestry plans written and conducted more than 12,000 acres of habitat projects on IRAP leased private property. This includes invasive species control with aerial spraying and on-the-ground removal, prescribed burning, grass and tree planting, pollinator establishment and more.