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  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Hunting

Licensed Hunting Preserves

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Image from Hunting Preserves for Sport or Profit by Dr. Edward L. Kozicky, Godfrey, IL

Hunting preserves are licensed hunting areas that offer hunting from September 1 to April 15 or year-round for ring-necked pheasants, bobwhite quail, chukar and Hungarian partridge, mallard ducks and even wild turkeys. Some hunting preserves feature all of these game birds; some may specialize in only one or two kinds. Good birds, good hunting dogs, good guides, and good vegetative cover (natural and planted) constitute the basics of every successful hunting preserve. All four are essential in providing quality hunting in natural surroundings. Quality hunting on a preserve simulates the wild hunting of gamebirds so closely that the hunter does not perceive the difference.
 
There are two types of hunting preserves: commercial and non-commercial. Commercial hunting preserves have a single purpose: to provide a profit for the owner/operator who furnishes quality hunting to those willing to pay for it. Commercial preserves can be either membership only, daily-fee, or both. Non-commercial hunting preserves are meant to provide quality hunting for a group of hunters on a non-profit basis. Non-commercial preserves are either private, co-op, or do-it-yourself. All hunting preserves have a common goal: quality sport hunting in a safe and pleasant surrounding.
 
Licensed Hunting Preserves
 
Daily-Fee vs Membership
 
A membership preserve has a number of advantages over a daily-fee preserve. These include: membership dues generating revenue for the operator in the Spring thus guaranteeing business in the fall; membership preserves can also become a team effort; with the members helping to recruit new members, and finally, a membership committee can be formed to screen new members, and if necessary, drop any existing members who have acted in an unsportsmans like manner.
 
Daily-fee preserves often serve as a way to attract hunters to a preserve and offer them a quality product at a fair price before evolving into a membership operation.
 
Hunting on a Licensed Hunting Preserve
 
Expect the area to look like good hunting country with a rich blend of natural and planted cover. The game birds will be mature, full-plumaged, strong flyers and of the same color and conformation as their naturally occurring counterparts.
There will be experienced guides and well-trained hunting dogs available, or on many preserves you can use your own dog if you wish. You are a valued customer, and your host will do everything he can to provide a safe, enjoyable hunt.
 
Cost
 
That depends on how much hunting you want. Some hunting preserves charge a set fee for game birds released; others charge for a half day or full-day hunt. In either case, fees will vary somewhat from preserve to preserve. Most preserves charge a minimum fee per hunter or hunting party. Extra services, such as clay target shooting and/or dressing game birds, will add to the charges
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But one thing is sure: a day on a hunting preserve is likely to cost no more money that a so-called "free hunt" and will certainly cost much less time. Today, most sportsmen spend a great deal of time, money and effort just hunting for hunting --- and what they find is often disappointing.
 
Wherever you live in Illinois, there is a good hunting preserve within easy driving distance. If you are a typical hunter without landowner contact, that preserve may be the most practical (and in the long run, the least expensive) way to spend a day afield with dog, guns and game birds.
 
Who to Contact
 
Follow this link for a complete listing of Illinois hunting preserves open to the public on a daily-fee and/or a membership basis as of this year.
 
You can also write or telephone any of the commercial hunting preserves listed for a brochure, which will give you the location, services, facilities, and prices.
 
If you have questions or require further information about licensed hunting preserves, please contact:
Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources
Game Breeding and Hunting Preserve Areas
Program Manager - Terry L. Musser
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702
 
Program Assistant - Barb L. Foster