Wildlife Illinois

Hunt Planner


Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permit First Lottery Begins August 16!

Horseshoe Lake State Park – Madison County

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Site Characteristics

  • Huntable acres: 2,000
  • Habitat: An oxbow lake of the Mississippi River floodplain is surrounded by a mix of managed row crop fields and sunflower fields interspersed with small tracts of grassland and forest. 1,000 acres of water exists as open lake and moist-soil management areas

Site Specific Regulations

  • All statewide hunting regulations apply at site unless noted hereafter
  • Use Hunt Planner to find hunting seasons open at this site
  • Hunters may leave stands unattended during the week hunted. Stand must be tagged with name, address and phone number
  • Waterfowl blinds are on a 3 year allocation cycle
  • No boats with motors greater than 50 hp allowed
  • No fishing allowed within 250 yards of an occupied blind within the hunting area
  • Species-specific rules:


  • Only portable tree stands; one stand per hunter. Stands must be legibly marked with owner’s name, address and telephone number. No permanent stands allowed
  • Archery
    • Site-specific permit is required. Applications are available online or at the site office. Applications will be accepted from Mar 1-30. A drawing will be held the first weekday in April. Applications are for Walker’s Island and Bend Road hunting areas
      • 12 hunters will be selected for each of the 15 weeks: 4 for Walker’s Island and 8 for Bend Road
    • An antlerless deer must be harvested prior to the harvest of an antlered deer
    • All deer harvested must be reported to the IL Check System per Statewide regulations and reported to the site office. The harvest sheet must be returned to the site office by Dec 31 or privileges for the next year will be forfeited. There is no limit on the number of antlerless deer that may be harvested with the proper permits
    • Open during the Youth and Regular Firearm Deer Seasons. All hunters must wear a solid blaze orange cap and vest as required for firearm deer hunting during these seasons
    • There will be 15 hunting sessions available
      Only 1 session will be awarded per hunter.
      • Session 1: Oct 1-7
      • Session 2:  Oct 8-14
      • Session 3: Oct 15-21
      • Session 4: Oct 22-28
      • Session 5: Oct 29 – Nov 4
      • Session 6: Nov 5-11
      • Session 7: Nov 12-18
      • Session 8: Nov 19-25
      • Session 9: Nov 26 – Dec 2
      • Session 10: Dec 3-9
      • Session 11: Dec 14-20
      • Session 12: Dec 21-27
      • Session 13: Dec 28- Jan 3
      • Session 14: Jan 4-10
      • Session 15: Jan10-17
    • Archery deer permit holders will be allowed to harvest furbearers during their designated hunting week. Harvest must be reported on the archery deer harvest sheet along with hunter trips and deer harvested
  • Muzzleloader
    • Open only during the 3-day muzzleloader only season
    • Site-specific permit is required as issued through the regular muzzleloader firearm application process (Springfield lottery system).
    • Antlerless deer only may be harvested
    • All deer harvested must be reported to the IL Check System per Statewide regulations and reported to the site office
    • Hunters with a valid Horseshoe Lake-Madison County Muzzleloader only permit are permitted to hunt on Bend Road or the southern half of Walker’s Island. All other areas are closed to deer hunting


  • Spring
    • Site-specific permits are required as issued from the Springfield Permit Office
    • Hunting hours ½ hour before sunrise to 1 pm
    • Hunting is allowed in the Bend Road Unit only
    • 3 hunters per season allowed
    • Required to report harvest to the site


  • Teal/Early Canada Goose/Late Goose
    • Hunting hours:
      • Teal: Sunrise to sunset
      • Early Canada Goose: ½ hour before sunrise to sunset
      • Late Goose: ½ hour before sunrise to 3:30 pm. except during the last 3 days will extend to sunset
    • Hunters are required to check in and out at the sign-in box located at the Site office
    • All hunting is from blind locations. Blinds need not be completed
    • Blind builders must claim their blind no later than 1 hour before shooting time. If the blind is not claimed 1 hour before shooting time, the blind may be occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis
    • No more than 4 persons can occupy a blind at one time
    • No one under 16 years old shall hunt unless accompanied by an adult
    • Hunters must hunt over at least 12 goose decoys
  • Youth Waterfowl
    • Statewide regulations
    • Youth waterfowl hunting is typically held the weekend preceding the Illinois Central Zone duck season opening date.
    • Hunting hours ½ hour before sunrise to 3:30 p.m
    • Hunters required to check in at check station
  • Waterfowl Season (Regular Duck/Canada Goose Season)
    • Only ducks, mergansers, coots, and geese can be hunted
    • Hunting from ½ hour before sunrise to 3:30 p.m., except hunting hours for the last 3 days of the season will extend to sunset
    • It shall be unlawful to trespass upon a designated waterfowl hunting area between sunset of the Sunday immediately receding opening day of regular duck season through the day before regular duck season as posted at the site
    • All hunting must be from a waterfowl blind
    • All hunters must report to check station to fill out information cards and to present their hunting license or firearm owners identification FOID cards before proceeding to blinds
    • Registered blind builders must claim their blind by reporting to the check station 1 hour before the opening shooting hour each day. Blinds not claimed by blind builders will be available in a daily drawing. After the drawing, any blind which has not been assigned will be on a first-come, first-serve basis from 9 am – 12 pm
    • All hunting will be from registered blinds only and hunters must occupy their blinds within one hour after blind is assigned on any specific day.
    • All hunters must check out within 1 hour of the close of legal shooting hours. At this time all waterfowl and coots bagged must be reported by submitting harvest card
    • No more than 4 persons shall occupy a blind. Blinds may not be locked
    • No one under 16 years old shall hunt unless accompanied by an adult
    • All hunters must hunt over at least 12 decoys. Decoys shall be staked, placed, or floating and be individually visible, be at least 8 inches long and not be within a boat, blind or container. Decoys may be left overnight or for the season
  • Conservation Order Snow Goose Season
    • Statewide regulations and site specific regulations apply
    • ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset
    • All hunting must be from a waterfowl blind
    • All hunters must sign in before hunt and sign out and report their results at the end of hunt. The sign-in box is located at  the Main Office


  • Squirrel or rabbit hunting not permitted

Upland Birds

  • Dove
    • Dove hunting from Sept 1-5 is by site-specific permit only. Permits are issued from the Springfield Permit Office. Sept 6-30, a daily drawing will be held at the site office each time there are more hunters than the site’s daily quota
    • Registration is from 9-10 am
    • Hunting hours are from 12 pm – 5 pm daily
    • Hunting is done beside numbered stakes. When a dove is downed, hunters are required to leave their gun at their stake while retrieving their bird. Hunters must hunt within 10 feet of assigned stake
    • Hunters must report their harvest at the end of each day
    • Each hunter’s harvested doves must be kept in separate bags by each hunter
    • Only non-toxic shotshells are permitted. Steel shot size # 6 or # 7 1/2 bismuth or smaller is allowed
    • No cleaning of doves is permitted at check station or in the hunting field
    • It is the hunter’s responsibility to remove all refuse, including empty shotgun shells, from the hunting area once they have finished hunting.
    • Non-hunters are not allowed in the fields
  • Youth Dove:
    • All dove regulations listed above for dove hunting apply.
    • The 1 day youth dove hunt is held the first weekend in September or Labor Day, whichever comes first.
    • Hunting is by permit. A standby drawing may be available if permit holders do not show up.
    • Check in time is from 10 am – 11 am.
    • Each youth hunter must be between the ages of 8 – 17, and youths must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
    • Either the youth hunter or supervising adult must possess a F.O.I.D card.
  • Youth Pheasant
    • The 1 day free youth pheasant hunt usually occurs in November. Contact site for specific date
    • Site-specific permit issued from the Springfield Permit Office
    • Check-in time is 7 am – 8 am at the main office
    • Hunting hours are 9 am – 4 pm
    • Hunters must be between the ages of 10 -17 and must possess a valid hunting license and habitat stamp
    • Each youth permit holder must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
    • Either the youth or the supervising adult must possess a F.O.I.D card
    • Both hunters and supervisor must wear hats and vests of solid blaze orange while in the field
    • All hunting must be done with shotguns. Only non-toxic shotshells are permitted. Shot size must be ballistically equivalent to # 5 lead but must be composed of non-toxic material
    • Anyone who has killed game previously and has it in his possession or in his vehicle must declare it with the person in charge of the area prior to hunting on the area. Any other game found in the hunter’s possession after he has started hunting on the area will be considered illegally taken if the hunter has not declared it prior to going into the field
    • Daily limit is 2 pheasants of either sex. No other game may be harvested
    • All pheasants must be affixed with a department tag before they are removed from the area. The tag must remain on the leg of the pheasant until the pheasants are prepared for consumption
  • Crow
    • Hunting season is February 1-28
    • Hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset
    • Hunters are required to get a site permit and harvest sheet from the site office prior to hunting
    • Harvest sheets are to be returned to the site office by March 15
    • Hunting is restricted to the Bend Road area
    • Harvested crows must be removed from site property and properly disposed


  • Trapping
    • Trappers must obtain permits, allocated via a public drawing held at the site office during the last week of October. Registration begins at 10 am, and the drawing will be at 11 am
    • Trappers must possess a current or previous year’s trapping license.
    • Only Egg Traps, D-P(Dog Proof) Traps, box traps, cage traps, and traps of similar design may be used for land sets
    • Only body gripping traps with a jaw spread of 4½ inches or less and square body-gripping traps with a 10 inch jaw spread may be used for water sets
    • During the waterfowl season, live traps and land sets only are allowed.
    • All trapping will resume after the close of waterfowl season
    • Harvest report must be submitted by Apr 1 after the season
  • Hunting
    • Bow and Arrow only for hunters with a valid site issued archery deer permit during archery deer season
    • Site opens up to statewide regulations during the month of February
    • Rimfire rifles .22 caliber and smaller may be used from sunset to sunrise
    • Coyote and striped skunk season coincides with the statewide fox season