Turkey Hunting in Illinois

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  • C
  • 103,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 55,780

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $27.50

    Hunting license and turkey shotgun/archery permit is $27.50.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $160.75

    Five-day hunting license and turkey shotgun/archery permit is $160.75, and turkey landowner permit is $37.50.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

According to recent population estimates, Illinois has 103,000 turkeys (National Wild Turkey Federation data), down from 150,000 in our most recent Turkey Hunting Nation post. 

As for the current number, that's slightly less than Indiana at 110,000, and even lower when compared to Iowa (150,000).

While non-residents can likely afford to hunt here for at least one bearded bird (it costs $125.00 for each turkey tag; three max), there is the limited lottery drawing to deal with – not so much the process itself, but that word “lottery.”

But let’s say a non-resident draws a tag, what then?

Some 700,000 acres of public land in the state – 290,000 of which are comprised of tracts of federal ground; the 280,000-acre Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, for instance – are available.

That's a good thing. Some might edge it up to a "B minus" state.

Still, we've given Illinois a C (as in satisfactory) based on consistently poor hatches, the lottery challenge, non-resident turkey permit cost and inconsistent population estimates.

Weather, with hatch success, is always a factor in conversations among serious turkey hunters.

On the one hand, inclement weather (i.e. rain) has resulted, at times, in decreased poult production in recent years; however, good summer weather has seen, say researchers, a surge in nesting and poult observation.

Late hatches are factors, too.

But this comes on the heels of down production years in this decade.

That said, it’s mighty tough to argue with a 28 percent success rating; in other words, if a hunter puts time in, he or she has a 1-in-3 chance of killing a bird.

Fun Fact: Wild turkeys were eliminated here by 1910. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, starting in 1959 trapped wild turkeys from other states were transferred to begin restoration efforts (the 1970s through 2003). Illinois now has wild turkeys statewide where suitable habitat provides.

– M.D. Johnson and Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Illinois © Tes Randle Jolly photo

Illinois Turkey Hunting Regulations

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