Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Utility Links



  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Hunting

Getting Started

Hunting Opportunities in Illinois

Landscape diversity provides ample opportunities for hunting a variety of species in Illinois.  From hunting ducks along a Mississippi River backwater slough to bow hunting deer in the forests of the Shawnee, Illinois has a variety of opportunities and experiences available.

For hunters just getting started, finding and taking a hunter safety course is required by law for persons born after January 1, 1980.  Hunters will learn about safety, ethics and many of the skills to become a successful hunter.  After taking the course, a person should learn how to use their hunting weapon and practice with it often until they are proficient in using it.

Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that maintains the health and abundance of game species and the balance of our natural resources.  Hunters play an important role in managing wildlife and it is their tax dollars paid through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and hunting licenses and fees that pay for the majority of wildlife management by the IDNR.

Who can hunt in Illinois?

  • Illinois allows hunting for both Residents and Non-Residents.
  • There are also special hunting opportunities/privileges for Youth, Seniors and Disabled hunters.
  • Illinois provides an Apprentice License for first-time hunters.
  • Residents 18 years old and under may purchase a Youth Hunting License.

Where can I hunt in Illinois?

What can I hunt in Illinois?

When can I hunt in Illinois?

What permits or licenses do I need to hunt in Illinois?

  • In general, anyone wishing to hunt in Illinois is required to purchase a hunting license.  There are some exceptions to this requirement.
  • In most cases, a state habitat stamp is also required.
  • Waterfowl hunters will also need both the state waterfowl stamp and the federal waterfowl stamp (federal waterfowl stamps may be purchased at US Post Offices or selected DNR offices).
  • In addition to the license and stamps, species-specific permits are also needed.
  • Anyone born after January 1, 1980, will need to have a copy of the Hunter Safety Education Certificate available while hunting.
  • Hunters wishing to use firearms need to obtain a Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID) from the Illinois State Police.
  • Lost or damaged permits can be replaced, if you provide required information.

What are legal hunting devices and are there any ammunition restrictions?

  • It is unlawful to hunt any protected species except with a gun or bow and arrow. 
  • Various species and seasons have restrictions as to hunting devices and ammunition

What am I required to wear?

  • Firearm Deer Hunting - It is unlawful to hunt deer with any firearm when not wearing a solid blaze orange cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of solid blaze orange material.  Note:  Camouflage blaze orange does not meet the requirements.
  • Archery Deer Hunting during a Firearm Season - During the muzzleloader only, the youth, the late winter and the CWD deer season, archery deer hunters must comply with the requirements to wear blaze orange in counties open to those gun deer seasons.
  • Archery Turkey Hunting during a Firearm Season - When and where it is legal to archery turkey hunt during any gun deer season, archery turkey hunters must comply with the same blaze orange requirements as gun deer hunters.


Trapping Opportunities in Illinois

Trapping plays an important role in the ecology and conservation of Illinois' furbearers - mammals that are hunted and trapped primarily for fur.

If you are starting out in trapping, it is recommended that you take the Illinois Trapper Education Course or complete the online course at United States  Successful completion of this course is required for first-time trappers, born on or after Jan. 1, 2015, before purchasing a license.

Additionally, any trapper regardless of age, who has not previously held a valid trapping license issued by this state or another, with in the 3 years preceding application, are required to complete a trapper education course before purchasing a license.

Who can trap in Illinois?

Where can I trap in Illinois?

  • Some properties owned or managed by IDNR offer trapping opportunities.
  • Trapping can occur on private property if a landowner or tenant grants permission to do so.  Permission must also be obtained from anyone living within 100 yards of where traps are set.  This requirement often limits opportunities to trap in residential areas.  Trapping along roads or other public right-of-ways is prohibited.  Land Access Permission Card

What can I trap in Illinois?

  • Only certain furbearer species are allowed to be trapped in Illinois.

When can I trap in Illinois?

What do I need to trap in Illinois?

  • In most cases, a trapping license and habitat stamp are required to trap in Illinois. See the Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations for exceptions.  Non-residents may trap in Illinois if their state allows Illinois residents to trap there.