Wildlife Illinois

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Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area

Site Contact Info

Site Characteristics

  • Huntable acres: 4,190
  • Habitat: Topography is flat with shallow sloughs. Horseshoe Lake is noted for its large stands of bald cypress, tupelo gum, and swamp cottonwood. This 2,400 acre body of water has a maximum depth of six feet. Active habitat management will be occurring throughout the year on the site.
  • Digital Map
  • Printable Map

Site Specific Regulations

  • All statewide hunting regulations apply at site unless noted hereafter.
  • All hunters must sign-in and sign-out and report harvest each day at the registration boxes before leaving the site.
  • Use Hunt Planner to find hunting seasons open at this site.
  • Trolling motors are permitted year-round; outboards (10 hp limit) may be used from Mar 1 – Oct 15.
  • Species-specific rules:


  • Only portable tree stands; one stand per hunter. Stands may be left unattended from Sept 15 – Jan 31 only. Stands must be legibly marked with owner’s name, address and telephone number.
  • Archery
    • Allowed on the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area from Oct 1 – 31
  • Statewide regulations apply to the rest of the Public Hunting area
  • Firearm and Muzzleloader
    • With the exception of the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area, firearm and muzzleloading deer hunting is allowed during the statewide season in the Public Hunting area.
    • Firearm deer hunting is only permitted on the Refuge area the third Friday and Saturday in October.  Firearm deer hunters must apply online for a site specific special hunt permit which is available from the statewide lottery.


  • Spring Turkey
    • Public and Controlled Hunt areas
    • Statewide regulations
  • Fall Archery
    • Public Hunting Area is statewide regulations; Controlled Hunting Area closes Oct 31
  • Fall Firearm
    • Public Hunting Area is statewide regulations; Controlled Hunting Area not open


  • 2023 Waterfowl Hunting Procedures
    • Hunters will be required to park in the corresponding position number (1-15) on their permit. 
    • Hunters must remain in their vehicles at all times. 
    • Once the draw begins, hunters will pull up to the selection area as directed by staff and select a blind off the board (the hunters will have 18 blinds to select from). 
    • Hunters will receive a copy of the rules and regulations, site map, and blind specific map then head to their blind. 
    • Hunting ends at 12:00pm. Gates will be closed at 12:30pm.
    • All hunters must complete harvest report cards at the end of each day’s hunt. 
    • Only one vehicle allowed per permit holder.
  •  Controlled Hunting Area blinds/stakes are allocated through the online permit reservation system and the daily draw. A $10 daily permit must be purchased. Blinds will be assigned by a daily drawing and hunters will be transported to the blinds/stakes.
  • Hunters with permit reservations are required to check in at the check station between 4:30 and 5 am. Permits are void after 5 am.
  • Waterfowl hunting is allowed in other portions of the Public Hunting Area (Poor Farm, Section 11, Gentle Farm, Triangle Woods, Big Fill Bottoms, Sink’s Tract) Wednesday through Sunday. No waterfowl hunting is allowed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Waterfowl hours are from legal opening hours to 1 pm in the Public Hunting Area. After duck season, all goose hunters must abide by a shell limit of 5 shells per Canada goose allowed in the daily bag.
  • The area is closed to goose hunting during any September goose season.
  • The Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area is not open to any goose hunting seasons that occur after the regular Canada goose hunting season.
  • No permanent blinds or pits may be dug or constructed. All blinds must be portable or established with natural vegetation and must be removed or dismantled at the end of each day’s hunt.
  • Youth Waterfowl
    • One permit per person shall be issued for the hunt on December 28th. 
    • Hunting hours from legal opening until 12 pm. 
    • Each youth shall not possess more than 25 shot shell.


  • Squirrels
    • Squirrel hunting is allowed during the statewide season in the Public Hunting Area and from Aug 1 – Oct 31.
    • All squirrel hunting is by .22 rifle or shotguns using non-toxic shot.
  • Rabbits
    • Statewide regulations
    • No hunting allowed in the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area
    • Non-toxic shot only

Upland Birds

  • Quail, Woodcock
    • Statewide regulations
    • No hunting allowed in the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area
    • Non-toxic shot required
  • Dove
    • Dove hunting is allowed on the Public Hunting Area non-toxic shot required (steel shot, size 6 or smaller only).
    • Sept 1-15, the shooting hours are 12 pm – 5 pm. Sept 6 – 30, shooting hours are sunrise – sunset.


  • Trapping
    • Statewide regulations
    • Site specific permit is required
    • Only Egg Traps, D-P (Dog-Proof) Traps, Lil Grizz Get’rz, box traps, and traps of similar design may be used for land sets; only body-gripping traps with a jaw spread of 5 inches or less, foothold traps with a jaw spread of 4 1/2 inches or less and square body-gripping traps with a 10 inch jaw spread may be used for water sets; snares may be used for water sets
  • Hunting
    • Public Hunt Area except in Controlled Hunt Area