Predators & Small Game
With a ton of Boone and Crockett entries, you'd think Illinois should be an easy A, right? Think again.
Season Dates: Bow season opens Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 20, stopping for each firearms season. First shotgun season is Nov. 16-18; second shotgun season is Nov. 29-Dec. 2. First muzzleloader season is Nov. 29-Dec. 2; second muzzleloader season is Dec. 7-9.
Illinois has a history of producing some of the nation's biggest deer. And it very nearly earned a C. How is that possible?
Well, you have to keep in mind just how each state is graded. It's not all about big antlers. It's about the overall hunting opportunity available. Does the state have a solid deer population? Are tags affordable and easily-obtained? Can you find a place to hunt?
And while Illinois is an excellent source for trophy whitetails, that reputation has also had a negative impact on its overall grade. Finding a place to hunt without paying an outfitter or shelling out big money for a lease can be very difficult. Tags are expensive, and you must apply for them if you're a non-resident. The good news is you're almost assured of getting one.
Illinois has about 836,000 acres of public land, and if you are willing to work, they can be outstanding. But more than 97 percent of the state is privately-owned.
When you get a tag and find a place to hunt, the results can be awesome. There's no denying that Illinois is a cool place to hunt. But there are a lot of hurdles that must be overcome to do it.
Antler Nation Knowledge: About 6,000 deer are killed each year on Illinois' public hunting areas. The majority are taken during key times of the fall, as one would expect. And some areas are more popular than others. Which means there can be quality hunting on areas during less-popular times. The Illinois DNR has an excellent resource that breaks down hunter effort and harvest totals on its website to get you started.
Realtree’s Rack Report
Record B&C Typical
Taken by Melvin J. Johnson in Peoria County in 1965. Ranks No. 4 of all time.
Total B&C Typical Entries
Record B&C Non-Typical
Taken by Jerry Bryant in Fulton County in 2001. Ranks No. 4 of all time.
Total B&C Non-Typical Entries
Est. Whitetail Population
No. Licenses Sold Annually
Deer to Hunter Ratio
Resident license and permit
Resident hunting license is $12.50. An archery deer permit is $26 and a firearms deer permit is $25.50. A muzzleloader permit is $25. There are also a number of lottery permits available that vary in price.
Non-resident hunting license is $57.75. An archery deer permit is $410. A firearms deer permit is $300.