As Illinois’ busiest hunting seasons begin, sportsmen are being encouraged by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to be safe while out in the field.
Illinois’ most popular hunting season, the seven-day firearm deer season, begins on Friday, Nov. 18.
The Illinois Firearm Deer Season legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
In a written statement, IDNR officials drew special attention to the proper use of Fall Arrest System (FAS) safety harnesses when using a tree stand, noting that of the 25 hunting incidents reported in 2015, 15 involved tree stands.
Hunters using a firearm are also encouraged to treat every firearm as if it is loaded and also keep it pointed in a safe direction.
Hunters who take a deer during the firearm season in most Illinois counties must register the deer they harvest online, or through a toll-free phone check-in system. The online deer registration is available through this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/HarvestReporting.aspx
The toll-free phone deer registration line is 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). Hunters registering deer through the online or phone systems must do so by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer.
In a number of northern Illinois counties where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in deer, hunters are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season by taking them to a check station (listed below) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Biologists will be present to take CWD samples for testing at the time of registration. Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate. The counties where hunters are required to check in their deer at check stations are:
Boone: Boone Co. Fairgrounds, 1/2 mi. north of Rt. 76 and Business Rt. 20, Belvidere
DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona
Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park, 401 Ottawa Street, Morris
Jo Daviess: Elizabeth Community Building, 210 N. West St., Elizabeth, IL, 1/2 mi. west of business district on Hwy. 20, next to the Highland C.C. Elizabeth campus
Kane: Use Boone, DeKalb, Kendall, or McHenry check station
Kankakee: Kankakee River State Park Visitor Center, 4 mi. northwest of Bourbonnais at 5214 W. State Rt. 102
Kendall: Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area, 4.5 mi. west of Yorkville at 13608 Fox Road
LaSalle: Buffalo Rock State Park, 3 mi. west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road
Livingston: Pontiac Sportsman’s Club, northwest of Livingston Co. Fairgrounds at 18663 4-H Park Road, Pontiac
McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park McHenry Dam Day Use Area, east of McHenry on River Rd., 2.2 mi. south of Rt. 120
Ogle: Castle Rock State Park, Rt. 2, 3 mi. south of Oregon, IL
Stephenson: County Fairgrounds, 1 mi. east of Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Rd., Freeport
Will: Des Plaines Game Propagation Center, east of I-55 at 30550 S. Boathouse Road, Wilmington
Winnebago: Rock Cut State Park, 6425 Hart Rd., Loves Park, 0.9 mi. east of N. Perryville Rd. on Hart Rd.
Hunters participating in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer (listed by phone number) through the IDNR website. Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR. For more information on CWD in Illinois, check the website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/CWD.
For a detailed information sheet on firearm deer hunting in counties with check stations for chronic wasting disease sampling, go to the IDNR website at: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/DeerCheckCWDCounties2016.pdf
In addition to the seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season, other deer hunting seasons in the state include the three-day Muzzleloader-only Deer Season on Dec. 9-11, and the seven-day split Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season (in select counties) on Dec. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and January 13-15, 2017. The Illinois Archery Deer Season, which opened on Oct. 1, is open through Jan. 15, 2017 (except closed in counties open to Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 1-4).
For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations: www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.