Illinois Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

Turkey Hunting Regulations in Illinois

Residents and non-residents looking to engage in turkey hunting within the state must comply with specific regulations. The following outlines the key requirements and restrictions.

Requirements:

A valid hunting license is a prerequisite for both residents and non-residents participating in turkey hunting activities. Additionally, hunters must obtain a state habitat stamp, and possession of at least one valid turkey permit is mandatory. Turkey hunting maps delineate associated spring and fall zones, and any exemptions to these requirements are explicitly detailed in the table. Residency qualifications can be found in the Resident definition on page 5.

Prohibitions:

  1. Hunt Without IDNR Permit: Engaging in the hunting of wild turkey without first obtaining an IDNR permit is strictly prohibited.

  2. Unsigned or Unpossessed Permits: Hunters are forbidden from hunting wild turkey unless the permit is signed and in their possession while actively hunting.

  3. Limitations on Harvest: Harvesting in Illinois or possessing more than one wild turkey per legally authorized permit is against the law.

  4. Tagging and Butchering Restrictions: It is mandatory to immediately attach the leg tag securely around the leg of the turkey as instructed on the permit upon kill. The leg tag must remain attached until the turkey reaches the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed it and has been duly checked in. Butchering a turkey before the check-in process is completed is prohibited.

  5. Possession of Another's Permit: While in the field during wild turkey seasons, it is illegal to possess any wild turkey permit issued to another person.

  6. Geographical Restrictions: Hunting wild turkey in a county or area other than specified on the permit is strictly prohibited.

Adherence to these regulations ensures responsible and legal turkey hunting practices in Illinois.

Turkey Hunting Credentials in Illinois

Securing the necessary credentials for turkey hunting in Illinois involves specific prices and application methods. Below are the details for residents and non-residents:

Hunting License:

  • Price: Variable for both residents and non-residents.
  • Application: Available online, through vendors, or via paper application.
  • Specifications: Refer to the Statewide Regulations section for details on license types.

State Habitat Stamp:

  • Price: $5.00 for both residents and non-residents.
  • Application: Obtainable online, through vendors, or via paper application.
  • Exemptions: Purchasers of a lifetime hunting license before 1993 and legally disabled veterans are exempt from this stamp. Those under 18 are also exempt.

Super Senior Habitat Stamp:

  • Price: Free for residents aged 75 or older.
  • Application: Available online, through vendors, or via paper application.
  • Note: Must pay vendor fees despite the stamp being free.

Turkey Permits:

  1. Spring Shotgun/Archery:

    • Price: $15.00 for residents, $125.00 for non-residents.
    • Application: Available online, through vendors, or via paper application.
  2. Fall Archery OTC (Over-the-Counter):

    • Price: $5.00 for residents, $75.00 for non-residents.
    • Application: Over-the-counter at vendors.
  3. Fall Shotgun:

    • Price: $15.00 for residents, $125.00 for non-residents.
    • Application: Available online, through vendors, or via paper application.
  4. Spring Youth Special Hunt Area (SHA):

    • Price: $10.00 for residents.
    • Application: Not applicable for non-residents.
  5. Spring Youth OTC (Over-the-Counter):

    • Price: $10.00 for residents, $10.00 for non-residents.
    • Application: Over-the-counter at vendors.
  6. Landowner Spring Shotgun/Archery:

    • Price: Free for residents, $37.50 for non-residents.
    • Application: Available through vendors.
    • Note: Landowners and resident tenants must have at least 39.5 acres of land to qualify for landowner permits. Permits are valid only on the owned/leased land.
  7. Landowner Fall Shotgun:

    • Price: Free for residents, $37.50 for non-residents.
    • Application: Available through vendors.
  8. Landowner Fall Archery:

    • Price: Free for residents, $25.00 for non-residents.
    • Application: Available through vendors.

These credentials ensure compliance with regulations and enable individuals to participate in turkey hunting in Illinois.

Firearm and Archery Equipment Regulations for Turkey Hunting

Firearm Regulations

Shotgun Requirements:

  • Only shotguns within the range of 20 gauge to 10 gauge are allowed.
  • .410 or 28 gauge shotguns are strictly prohibited for hunting wild turkey.
  • The Firearm Concealed Carry Act governs the possession of firearms for turkey hunting.

Shot Size:

  • No. 4 shot is the largest shot permissible when hunting turkey with a shotgun.

Archery Equipment Regulations

Legal Vertical Bow Types:

  • Acceptable bow types include longbows, recurved bows, and compound bows.
  • Minimum pull requirement: 30 pounds at some point within a 28-inch draw.

Arrow Specifications:

  • Minimum arrow length for all vertical bow types: 20 inches (excluding the point).

Crossbow Regulations:

  • Crossbows must meet specific criteria:
    • Minimum draw weight: 125 pounds.
    • Minimum overall length: 24 inches.
    • Equipped with a working safety.
    • Utilization of fletched bolts or arrows, with a minimum length of 14 inches (excluding point).

Broadhead Requirements:

  • Broadheads are mandatory for archery turkey hunting.
  • Broadheads can have fixed (metal or flint-, chert-, or obsidian-knapped) or expandable (metal) cutting surfaces.
  • Minimum diameter when fully opened: 7/8 inch.

Prohibited Equipment

  • All other bows and arrows, including electronic arrow-tracking systems utilizing radio-telemetry, are strictly illegal.

Season-Specific Regulations

  • During the spring season, hunters are allowed to carry both shotguns and bows and arrows.
  • However, during the fall season, hunters cannot have any firearm in possession while using any type of bow and arrow (refer to page 7 for concealed carry handgun regulations).

Decoys and Other Attractants Regulations

Legal Restrictions

  1. Decoys and Calls:

    • It is strictly prohibited to use live or electronic decoys, dogs, or recorded calls during turkey hunting.
  2. Traps and Nets:

    • The use of any net or trap for harvesting turkeys is illegal.
  3. Baiting Regulations:

    • Harvesting wild turkeys through the use or aid of bait is strictly prohibited.
    • Definition of Bait:
      • Bait includes any material, whether liquid or solid, such as food, salt, minerals, and other products.
      • These materials should not be ingested, placed, or scattered to attract or lure wild turkeys.
    • Definition of Baiting:
      • Baiting refers to the placement or scattering of bait to attract wild turkeys.
      • An area is considered baited during the presence of bait and for 10 consecutive days following its removal.

Exceptions

  • Normal agricultural or soil stabilization practices, including manipulation (e.g., mowing or cutting) of standing crops, are allowed for the purpose of taking wild turkeys.
  • Food plots and regular agricultural practices, such as planting, harvesting, and maintenance, including cultivating, are exempt from these restrictions.

Note: Hunters should be aware of and adhere to these regulations to ensure legal and ethical turkey hunting practices.

Mandatory Turkey Harvest Reporting

Reporting Process

  1. Timing:

    • Hunters who successfully harvest a turkey must register their harvest by 10 pm on the same calendar day.
  2. Methods of Reporting:

    • Reporting can be done through two methods:
      • Telephone Check-In:
        • Call the toll-free number 1-866-452-4325 (1-866-ILCHECK).
        • Provide all information requested by the telephone check-in system.
      • Online Check-In:
  3. Information Required:

    • Hunters must provide all necessary information requested by the chosen reporting method.
  4. Confirmation Number:

    • Upon successful check-in, hunters will receive a confirmation number.
    • This confirmation number is crucial for verifying the completion of the harvest reporting process.

Leg Tag Confirmation

  • Hunters are required to write the received confirmation number onto the leg tag provided.
  • This step ensures a documented record of the harvest reporting and compliance with regulations.

Compliance Reminder

  • Hunters should adhere to the specified timeline and provide accurate information during the reporting process.
  • Timely and accurate reporting contributes to effective wildlife management and ensures ethical hunting practices.

Turkey Permit Process

Application Methods

  1. Online Application:
  2. Hardcopy Application:
    • Obtain hardcopy applications for a wild turkey hunting permit by contacting the Springfield Permit Office at (217) 782-7305.

Application Periods and Lotteries

Spring Archery/Gun Hunting Season

  • First Lottery (Residents Only):

    • Methods: Internet/Hardcopy
    • Lottery Opens: 3 Oct 2023
    • Lottery Closes: 1 Dec 2023
    • More Information
  • Second Lottery:

    • Methods: Internet/Hardcopy
    • Lottery Opens: 11 Dec 2023
    • Lottery Closes: 11 Jan 2024
  • Third Lottery:

    • Methods: Internet/Hardcopy
    • Lottery Opens: 22 Jan 2024
    • Lottery Closes: 9 Feb 2024
  • Over-the-Counter:

    • Methods: Vendors
    • Opens: 12 Mar 2024
    • Available as per availability

Spring Youth Season

  • Special Hunt Area Lottery:

    • Method: Internet Only
    • Lottery Opens: 16 Jan 2024
    • Lottery Closes: 9 Feb 2024
    • More Information
  • County-specific Permits (Over-the-Counter):

    • Method: Vendors
    • Opens: 5 Mar 2024
    • Closes: 7 Apr 2024

Fall Gun Hunting Season

  • First Lottery (Residents Only):

    • Methods: Internet/Hardcopy
    • Lottery Opens: 3 May 2023
    • Lottery Closes: 4 Jul 2023
    • More Information
  • Second Lottery:

    • Methods: Internet/Hardcopy
    • Lottery Opens: 15 Jul 2023
    • Lottery Closes: 22 Aug 2023
  • Over-the-Counter:

    • Methods: Vendors
    • Opens: 18 Sep 2023
    • Available as per availability

Disabled Hunter Opportunities

Turkey Harvest Procedures in All Seasons

Leg Tag Requirement

It is unlawful during all seasons to leave in the field or transport a wild turkey without immediately attaching the leg tag securely around the leg, following the instructions on the permit. The leg tag must remain attached until the turkey is at the legal residence of the person who legally took or possessed the turkey, and the turkey has been checked in.

Field Dressing and Butchering

During all seasons, it is unlawful to field dress or butcher a turkey until it has been checked in. All harvested turkeys must be registered by 10 pm on the same calendar day of harvest. Registration can be done by calling 1-866-452-4325 or online.

Site-Specific Regulations

Before hunting, check the regulations for the IDNR site(s) you intend to hunt, as some sites may have more restrictive regulations on equipment and harvest reporting. You can find site-specific regulations using the Directory or Hunt Planner.

Statewide Hunting Regulations

For comprehensive information on turkey hunting, refer to the Statewide Hunting Regulations.

Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations

Shotguns

  • Shotguns must be within the range of 20 to 10 gauge only, with no .410 or 28 gauge allowed.
  • The largest shot size permitted is No. 4.
  • Barrel length should not be less than 18 inches, with an overall length not less than 26 inches.
  • Shotguns cannot hold more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Shotguns with a capacity of more than 3 shells must be fitted with an irremovable one-piece plug.

Archery Equipment

  • Vertical compound bows, traditional bows (recurve or longbow) are allowed.
  • Minimum pull of 30 pounds at some point within a 28-inch draw.
  • Arrows must be at least 20 inches long, not including the point.

Crossbows

  • Crossbows must have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds.
  • Minimum length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) should be 24 inches.
  • Must have a working safety.
  • Fletched bolts or arrows must be at least 14 inches long, not including the point.

Broadheads (All Bows)

  • Broadheads must have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces, with a minimum ⅞ inch in diameter when fully opened.
  • Broadheads with fixed cutting surfaces must be metal or flint-, chert- or obsidian-knapped; expandable broadheads must be metal.

Clothing Requirements

  • No specific clothing requirements, but wearing a blaze orange/pink hat when walking to and from the hunting location is recommended for safety.

For specific details on counties open to Spring hunting, refer to the map below. Permits are county and/or Special Hunt Area (SHA) specific, valid only on indicated dates. Download the Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Information Sheet for more details.

Illinois Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations

Equipment Regulations

  • Youth Spring hunting follows the same equipment regulations as the Spring Season outlined above.

Clothing Requirements

  • No specific clothing requirements, but wearing a blaze orange/pink hat when walking to and from the hunting location is recommended for safety.

Supervision

  • Each youth hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult who is in immediate control of the youth hunter at all times during the hunt.
  • The adult must have a current Illinois hunting license if a non-resident or if the youth is using an Apprentice or Youth hunting license.

For specific details on counties open to Youth Spring hunting, refer to the map above. Permits are county and/or Special Hunt Area (SHA) specific, valid only on indicated dates. Download the Spring Youth Wild Turkey Hunting Permit Information Sheet for more details.

Illinois Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

Fall Shotgun Turkey Hunting Regulations

Equipment Regulations

  • Shotguns must be within the range of 20 to 10 gauge only; no .410 or 28 gauge allowed.
  • No. 4 shot is the largest size shot that may be used.
  • Barrel length shall not be less than 18 inches, and the overall length shall not be less than 26 inches.
  • Shotgun cannot be capable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Any shotgun having a capacity of more than 3 shells must be fitted with a one-piece plug that is irremovable without dismantling the shotgun or otherwise altered to render it incapable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined.

Additional Regulations

  • You may not possess any other gun while turkey hunting; refer to rules on Concealed Carry in the firearms section.

Clothing Requirements

  • No specific clothing requirements. However, wearing a blaze orange/pink hat when walking to and from the hunting location is recommended for safety.

County Openings

  • Refer to the map below for counties open to Fall Gun hunting.
  • Permits are specific to the county and/or Special Hunt Area (SHA) and dates indicated on the permit.

Fall Archery Turkey Hunting Regulations

Season Information

  • Hunting is permitted in all 102 counties, and permits are valid statewide.
  • The season is closed during firearm deer season in counties open to firearm deer hunting.

Allowed Equipment

  • Vertical Compound Bow or Traditional Bows (Recurve or Longbow)

    • Minimum pull of 30 pounds at some point within a 28-inch draw.
    • Arrows must be at least 20 inches long (not including point).
  • Crossbows

    • Minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds.
    • Minimum length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches.
    • Must have a working safety.
    • Fletched bolts or arrows must be at least 14 inches long (not including point).
  • Points (All Bows)

    • Broadheads must have fixed or expandable cutting surfaces and a minimum ⅞ inch in diameter when fully opened.
    • Broadheads with fixed cutting surfaces must be metal or flint-, chert- or obsidian-knapped; broadheads with expandable cutting surfaces must be metal.

Clothing Requirements

  • No specific clothing requirements.

Additional Information

  • Pertinent Administrative Rules: 510, 685, 710, 715, 720.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.