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  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Hunting
  3. Hunting Devices and Ammunition

Hunting Devices and Ammunition 

If hunting on DNR owned property, please refer to the site specific regulations regarding hunting devices and ammunition, which may differ from statewide regulations.

Deer Hunting

Legal Firearms

  • Shotguns, loaded with slugs only, of not larger than 10 gauge nor smaller than 20 gauge, not capable of firing more than 3 consecutive slugs; or
  • Single or double barreled muzzleloading rifles of at least .45 caliber shooting a single projectile through a barrel of at least sixteen inches in length; or
  • Centerfire revolvers or centerfire single-shot handguns of .30 caliber or larger with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches.

Legal Ammunition

  • For shotguns and muzzleloading firearms, the minimum size of the projectile shall be .44 caliber.  A wad or sleeve is not considered a projectile or a part of the projectile.
  • For handguns, 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 the published ballistic tables of the manufacturer showing a capability of at least 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.  Note: There is no case length limit for straight-walled cartridges.
  • Non-expanding military style full metal jacket bullets cannot be used to harvest white-tailed deer; only soft point or expanding bullets (including copper / copper-alloy rounds designed for hunting) are legal ammunition.

Additional Muzzleloading Restrictions

  • A muzzleloading firearm is defined as a firearm that is incapable of being loaded from the breech end.
  • Only black powder or a "black powder substitute" such as Pyrodex may be used.  Modern smokeless powders are an approved blackpowder substitute only in muzzleloading firearms that are specifically designed for their use.
  • Percussion caps (shotgun primers are legal), wheellock, matchlock or flint type ignition only may be used, except the Connecticut Valley Arms (CVA) electronic ignition shall be legal to use.

Legal Archery Equipment

  • A long, recurve, or compound bow with a minimum pull of 40 pounds at some point within a 28 inch draw.
  • Minimum arrow length is 20 inches and broadheads must be used.
  • Broadheads may have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces, but they must have a minimum 7/8 inch 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.


Turkey Hunting

Legal Firearms and Ammunition

  • Shotgun 20 gauge to 10 gauge only, no .410 or 28 gauge allowed.  Note:  You may not possess any other gun while turkey hunting.
  • No. 4 shot is the largest and No. 7 1/2 is the smallest size shot that may be used.

Legal Archery Equipment

  • A long, recurve, or compound bow with a minimum pull of 40 pounds at some point within a 28 inch draw.
  • Minimum arrow length is 20 inches and broadheads must be used.
  • Broadheads may have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces, but they must have a minimum 7/8 inch 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.


Statewide Migratory Game Bird Hunting
 

  • It is unlawful to have in possession while attempting to take migratory waterfowl (including coots and captive-reared mallards), snipe or rail in Illinois any shotgun shells not approved as non-toxic by federal regulations.


Hunting with Crossbows

A legally permitted archery hunter may use a crossbow from the second Monday following Thanksgiving through the end of the archery hunting seasons also certain disabled persons with a special crossbow permit (see page 37 of the Hunting and Trapping Digest) or persons 62 years of age or older with photo ID (no special crossbow permit required) can hunt with crossbows.  These individuals may hunt game species with crossbows during seasons allowing the use of archery equipment.

Crossbows shall:

  • have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds.
  • have a minimum overall length (from butt of stock to front of limb) of 24 inches. 
  • have a working safety.
  • be used with fletched bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length (not including point).
  • use broadheads that may have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces, but they must have a minimum 7/8 inch 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.
  • NOT use electronic tracking systems utilizing radio telemetry.