Hunted Waterfowl Species in Illinois
- Ducks (Dabblers and Divers)
- Sora & Virginia Rails
- Wilson’s Snipe
- Canada Geese
- Light Geese (Snow, Blue, Ross’)
- White-fronted Geese (aka, Specklebellies)
Firearm Regulations for Waterfowl Hunting
Shotgun Gauge Restrictions: Hunters cannot use any shotgun larger than 10 gauge while taking or attempting to harvest waterfowl.
Barrel Length Requirements: The barrel length shall not be less than 18 inches, and the overall length shall not be less than 26 inches.
Shell Capacity: Hunters cannot use a shotgun capable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Any shotgun with 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. Note: Shell limit does not apply during the Conservation Order light goose season that occurs during late-winter and spring.
- A muzzleloading rifle with non-toxic shot types described directly below can be used for all legal waterfowl, except teal.
- Same specifications as found in the deer and turkey sections on this website.
Non-toxic Shot Requirement: Hunters must use federally approved non-toxic shot for ducks, geese, mergansers, and coots.
Steel Shot Size: Steel shot must be size T or smaller.
Other Non-toxic Shot Types: Other non-toxic shot types must be number BBB or smaller.
These regulations ensure responsible and ethical waterfowl hunting practices. Always refer to the official guidelines for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Tom Roster’s Non-toxic shot lethality table
There are no clothing requirements for Waterfowl Hunting.
Miscellaneous Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
Transporting Harvested Birds
- Bird Integrity: Hunters must maintain the head and/or one fully-feathered wing on each bird while being transported from the field to the final destination.
- Spinning-Wing Decoys: Spinning-wing decoys are allowed for waterfowl hunting, enhancing the hunting experience.
Transferring Harvested Birds
- Waterfowl Gift Tag: When transferring harvested birds to another person, hunters must use a Waterfowl Gift Tag to ensure proper documentation and adherence to regulations.
These miscellaneous regulations contribute to ethical and sustainable waterfowl hunting practices. Hunters should always stay informed about the latest guidelines for a safe and legal hunting experience.
Blind Drawings & Construction Guidelines
During the summer, the IDNR conducts in-person drawings at several sites for blinds allocated for 1-3 years. Hunters must be present at the drawing, equipped with the following at registration:
- Current or preceding year regular resident or non-resident Illinois hunting license (no youth, apprentice, or 5-day licenses accepted).
- Current or preceding year Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp.
- Photo ID.
Applicants must be at least 16 years old by the drawing date. Drawings usually occur in four periods each year, and specific dates and times are publicized on the IDNR website.
Blind Construction Rules
Below are general blind construction rules for IDNR sites requiring hunting from constructed blinds. Note that deadlines, removal, and allowed materials may vary by site and region.
- Minimum: 4 feet x 8 feet.
- Maximum Height: 14 feet from the water surface at normal pool level to the top of the shooting box.
- Sturdy construction to withstand daily usage.
- Blinds must be maintained in good condition throughout the duck season.
- Must be numbered and the number visible from the outside.
- Boat hides required, with minimum dimensions of 18′ x 7.5′, sturdy enough for daily use.
Completion and Inspection:
- Depending on the site, blinds must be completed, including final brushing, 3 or 4 weeks in advance of the regular duck season opening.
- Department inspection and issuance of Blind Registration Cards follow.
- Unbuilt or unsatisfactory blinds are reassigned to alternates through drawings or first come-first served allocation.
- Blinds must include a dog hide on the same level as the blind.
- The dog hide can be incorporated into the blind or provided as a separate compartment attached to the blind.
- At some sites, the use of certain materials, such as metal (except for fasteners less than 12 inches), carpet, and specific plastics, is prohibited.
Ensure compliance with site-specific regulations, and refer to the Directory or Hunt Planner for additional details. Stay informed for a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
Pertinent Administrative Rules: 510, 590, 685, 740
Duck Zones in Illinois
North Duck Zone
The North Duck Zone encompasses the region north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois Route 50. From there, it extends south along Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road, then west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53. The boundary proceeds north along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New River Road to Interstate Highway 55, and further south along I-55 to Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road. It then extends west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80, west along I-80 to I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route 18, west along Illinois Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to Illinois Route 17, and finally west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi River. The zone extends due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa border.
Central Duck Zone
Situated south of the North Duck Zone, the Central Duck Zone extends to a line west from the Indiana border along I-70 to Illinois Route 4. From there, it proceeds south along Illinois Route 4 to Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 158, and continues south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159. The boundary extends south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 3, continuing further south along Illinois Route 3 to St. Leo’s Road. It then follows south along St. Leo’s road to Modoc Road, west along Modoc Road to Modoc Ferry Road, southwest along Modoc Ferry Road to Levee Road, southeast along Levee Road to County Route 12 (Modoc Ferry entrance Road). The zone then moves south along County Route 12 to the Modoc Ferry route and southwest on the Modoc Ferry route across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.
South Duck Zone
The South Duck Zone covers the region south and east of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate 70. It moves south along U.S. Highway 45 to Illinois Route 13, west along Illinois Route 13 to Greenbriar Road, north on Greenbriar Road to Sycamore Road, west on Sycamore Road to N. Reed Station Road, south on N. Reed Station Road to Illinois Route 13. The boundary then moves west along Illinois Route 13 to Illinois Route 127, continuing south along Illinois Route 127 to State Forest Road (1025 N). It follows west along State Forest Road to Illinois Route 3, north along Illinois Route 3 to the south bank of the Big Muddy River. From there, it moves west along the south bank of the Big Muddy River to the Mississippi River and extends west across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.
South Central Duck Zone
The South Central Duck Zone encompasses the remainder of the state between the south border of the Central Zone and the north border of the South Zone.