Deer Hunting in Illinois

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  • B
  • 800,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 630,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $38.50 and Up

    Resident hunting license is $12.50. An archery deer permit is $26 and a firearms deer permit is $25.50. A muzzleloader permit is $25.50. There are also a number of lottery permits available that vary in price.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $358.25 and Up

    Non-resident hunting license is $57.75. An archery deer permit is $410. A firearms deer permit is $300.50.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 204 4/8"

    Taken by Melvin J. Johnson in Peoria County in 1965 and ranks 4th overall.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 783

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 304 3/8"

    Taken by Jerry Bryant in Fulton County in 2001 and ranks 5th overall.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 622

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Ralph Cianciarulo killed a great Illinois buck (Photo courtesy of Ralph Cianciarulo)

Season Dates (2019):

Archery season starts October 1 and ends January 19, with closed days throughout. Firearm season is November 22 to 24 and December 5 to 8. Muzzleloading-only season is December 13 to 15. Youth firearm season is October 12 to 14. These are the dates set when published, please check the state DNR's website to confirm.

Grade: B

Illinois is a top whitetail state. So why not an A? Keep in mind how each state is graded. It's not just about big antlers. 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.

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 but thanks to a recent change in regulations are now available over-the-counter.

At the end of the day, Illinois is a great state to hunt deer in, even big deer. But it doesn't currently have what it takes to bump it up to that coveted A. At least, not this year. But that aside, there is still a lot of good deer hunting to be had in the state.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 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. Use that resource to plan a public land, low-pressure hunt.


Illinois Harvests

  • Richard Gaston

    Adams, Illinois

  • billy hammond

    Illinois, Illinois

From the Realtree Trophy Den