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The Back 40

Illinois Deer Hunting Regulations.

Mon, July 25, 2011

There are so many rules and regulations in deer hunting that it made me think?  What is it that we really want here in Illinois? 

We add days for gun season and some like it while others absolutely hate it.  We extend the season and same story…some love it and some hate it.  Some love crossbows, while others cringe when politicians talk about them.  I could go on and on about hunting disagreements.  Personally, I think it comes down to acceptance.  Please don’t misunderstand me, if a certain regulation will harm our deer herd, then it goes beyond simple acceptance.  However, I have the feeling that some of us just aren’t that accepting of how others hunt. 

For me, I really don’t care how people hunt as long as it’s a legal method.  Though I do gun hunt, I am mainly a bowhunter.  If gun deer season in Illinois were completely eliminated, sure, there would be more deer for me to bowhunt…a lot more.  If bowhunting were completely eliminated, the deer would be much less pressured come gun season. 

Without getting into specifics, when I hear of a new reg for Iowa or Missouri, everyone in Illinois seems to love it.  Sometimes I wonder though, how would we react if that same reg were put in place here in Illinois?  We always seem to think that every other state is so much better than ours.  The grass is always greener…  I think the only thing we all agree on is that too many deer tags are sold every year, especially NR tags.  As far as I can tell, many of the states that we Illinois hunters envy when it comes to management, also allow baiting.  If baiting were allowed here in Illinois this web site would explode.  There seems to be a lot of management envy when it comes to Iowa, but every hunting show I see on the tube from Iowa, most of their trail camera pictures appear to be taken in front of a bait pile. 

I’m not a huge fan of the IDNR, but sometimes I must admit, I feel sorry for them.  Well that may be an overstatement, but you know what I mean.  They can’t seem to win no matter what they do.  For me, I don’t really care what they say.  As long as it’s legal, I’ll hunt my way.  I’m not talking about the obvious problems with the IDNR like hiring politicians instead of biologists or misuse of funds.  I’m simply talking about actual hunting regulations.  Season dates, bag limits, that type of thing. 

So what would your regulations look like if it were all up to you?  I’m curious.

Oh, and by the way, this year’s opening day is on a Saturday.  I wonder what the kill numbers will be for opening day?


No late season antlerless only -eliminate the chance of shooting bucks that have already dropped

Posted by jordn88 on July 25

no lwas and 1 buck only. 2 doe max per hunter sounds more than generous to me. but i think the insurance companies would beg to differ.  its all about money in Illinois so what we the hunter thinks doesnt matter at all.

Posted by JoshAdkins on July 25

I know this wouldn’t sit well with others on this site but I too would go to 1 buck only. Rather than LWS, I would offer more youth opportunities earlier in the season. No X-bow unless it was for an abbreviated season (e.g. 2 weeks?) following the 2nd shotgun season.

Posted by Walston on July 25

the state needs to regulate the kill by the county…some counties do need more does taken others don’t but overall i agree with the first 3 comments…myself i would leave it at 2 bucks and the doe kill by the county as needed….also we NEED to go back to the check stations for everything….

Posted by deer1 on July 25

Check stations and NO LWS.

Posted by shedhead on July 25

I myself think Iowa has some of the best season dates.  There shot gun season does not fall right in the middle of the rut and when it does come in it is like two weeks long.  I also think that there point system in nice to so that way outfitters can not just pile the people in.  I am going to Iowa bow hunting this year and it took me two years of preference points to get my tag on the third year. One more thing i live in Fulton county and i deer hunt hard.  I would say that i see almost 10 doe to every buck that i see. I think they need to do something like a earn a buck or something. No one around here shoots any does.

Posted by lefty on July 25

I like a combination of all of the input above.  I like county by county management a lot.  However, believing that will never happen, I wouldn’t mind seeing 2 bucks, 2 does (all seasons combined), extended youth season, no crossbows unless medically necessary, and bring back the check stations.

Posted by Treehugger on July 25

LEFTY, I hear that a lot.  People in some areas not shooting does?  What’s up with that?  It’s fun, it’s great practice for when the monster comes in, puts food on your table (or someone else’s), and is a great management tool where necessary.  Please tell me it’s not some macho thing.

Posted by Treehugger on July 25

Treehugger, i have never shot a doe because i can see what the state and insurance company is trying to do and i do not work for them.  We do not have the ” no one around here shoots any does” problem.  We currently have one season in which our kill IS NOT dropping and thats LWS.  I Know of a man who has shot over 40 does himself off one of my property lines during the last 5 years.  Ive drove by this woods all year and its sickening to see what was once a woods full of deer reduced to me seeing 3 deer around this woods TOTAL. ALL Year.  I actually enjoy seeing deer and does entertain me while i hunt. 
What laws would i change?  The herd would be managed in a scientific way to start with.  I would impose a county by county management style. I would move LWS to sept 15thish where you would help balance the population before the rut.  AND heres the big one.  8000 NR tag cap.

Posted by clintharvey on July 26

Just want to point out that we do have harvest management by county for firearms. If you are saying that you want management by county in total, it would need to include archery. That is one of the flaws in the current system, archery kills make up a very high percentage of the overall harvest now. That was not the case when Jack Calhoun and Frosty Loomis set up the deer program- archery kills were less than 5% back then. And yet that is pretty much the management program we are still useing- without updates to adapt to the large archery harvest.

But be careful what you wish for….. county specific archery tags would allow the DNR to sell more tags. Even with a limit on the tags per county, some hunters would snatch up available tags for other counties they could hunt with an end result of fists full of tags. More tags in hand would probably increase the incentive to fill the tags- and the end result would probably be an increase in harvest.

Now the non-resident cap…............ that would be a game changer.

Posted by The Colonel on July 26

I would like to see them make it illegal to hunt right on the property line. Every year I do all the work(food plots) and my neighbor who would like to see every single deer dead lines hunters up on our fence row. Maybe a landowners only season.

Posted by Clintuckian on July 26

1) provide an ethics short list with each hunting license
2) a proficieny test with your equipment and acknowledgement of limits
3) a set of 4 universal deer tags good for all seasons (bow,gun,muzzle)
4) a set of 3 turkey tags good for all seasons. males in spring only
5) have less restrictions on transporting harvested game.  travelling hunters have to risk technical violation if breaking down multiple deer in order to prevent spoilage.


Posted by virtualSniper on July 26

OK this may not be popular but here it goes…  Allow rifle hunting in counties that can handle it with terrain and population.  A county like JoDaviess or Stephenson can certainly handle rifle hunting with the numerous hills and rural population.

I also agree with many others that the check in stations must return.  I think our state is not getting accurate harvest numbers with the phone/internet check in system.

Posted by GalenaBob on July 26

Clint…it’s never cool when your surrounded by the “if it’s brown it’s down” crew is it?  It seem so easy to have fun, shoot some deer, and be responsible about it. 

CLINTUCKIAN…I had a neighbor that would move his sands closer and closer to my fenceline with every deer that I shot.  Unreal.

Posted by Treehugger on July 26

What’s the BIG deal about crossbows?We can shoot’em with rifles,if you have a nuisance permit,bows,pistols,shotguns,and muzzle loaders!Why not crossbows?So what if you can’t put it in the book-big deal.Hell,make a different book for crossbows.I just don’t understand why people are against them.Can someone shed some light on that for me?If I could find the right doctor,I’d be shooting one right now!

Posted by Birdkiller150 on July 26

Treehugger, that neighbor in question hunts literally RIGHT on the line.  And likely pushing our side.  We have very few people here that value deer.  I honestly cant name 5 people in this county who attempts to improve their property for deer. 
Colonel,  i mean county by county management strategies.  My county who has been dropping like a rock in kills being managed under the same philosophy as counties in central IL who are climbing is rediculous and lazy.  THe light is that archery success is already too high and doesnt need to be higher.  WHy do people always wanna make killing deer as easy as possible with crossbows and rifles?

Posted by clintharvey on July 26

colonel you have a very good point about county count for tags…i was talking for all seasons….i withdraw my change… hunters have to realize just because you can buy 50 tags use a little common sense on your kill ratio for your county…the bottom line is as hunters we all know what would make the hunting better…unfortunately politics and money run the DNR…..i still say reopen the check stations…..

Posted by deer1 on July 26

The problem is, most hunters dont realize that if they hunt a place 3 times during october and only see 6 deer total.  They somehow feel that even though this happened that there are 50 in that 40 acres that somehow hid from sight.And they believe they still have an OVER population problem.  I have some places i hunt where i can see 50 deer a hunt and other places under 5 and they are all in the same county and dependent on landowner few of deer values in the area

Posted by clintharvey on July 26

Absolutely bring back the check stations. On the crossbow issue…....the past 2 archery seasons, i have had rotator cuff surgeries. Tore the left one in September of 2009 and had it repaired in November. Tore the right one in October of 2010, and had it repaired in December. Missed two complete archery seasons because the law says “perminant disability”. Had a doc tell me he could write it up that way for me but I declined. Truth is I would much rather draw my Hoyt to get the job done. That said, maybe this could be changed to a case-by-case, season-by-season issue. Sure did miss tat 8 months in te field, and I can’t believe I’m the only hunter in Illinois who has missed a season due to a short term inability (not “disability”) to draw my bow. Just my .02 worth.

BTW, what’s the hang up with crossbows anyhow. I would never use one even if there were a season, except for the reasons stated above. Just curious wy they seem to be so taboo.

Posted by Jarhead1 on July 26

I don’t think people are necessarily opposed to crossbows, but there’s just so much questioning where they belong. I for one don’t have a problem with them per se. But I wouldn’t want them mixed in with compounds for the entire 3+ month bow season. Talk about making matters worse for our state’s deer herd. But I wouldn’t be opposed to some abbreviated x-bow season. My dad is permanently disabled (elbow injury - can’t pull back a bow). He uses a crossbow and is very deadly with that thing. Anything within 40 yds is as good as dead and he barely has to move a finger. All aspects of positioning, anticipating the shot, drawing back, and holding that would normally occur with a compound are nearly nonexistent with x-bow. Luckily he is conscious about the deer herd and doesn’t shoot everything on sight. I can’t say the same for all the other archers that would be taking up x-bow hunting if it were legalized.

Posted by Walston on July 26

I agree regarding crossbows.  I wouldn’t mind them, however, I believe they would increase the deer kill numbers, thus decreasing our deer herd more than it already is.  Sure it would make killing a deer easier than a compound or recurve, but that part doesn’t bother me much.  I love my bow because it’s not easy and it seems more personal.  To each their own as long as it’s legal.  I’m just against anything that would increase our kill numbers at this point.

Posted by Treehugger on July 26

I believe the DNR is more about getting the most opportunities to hunt, no matter what the game, than it is about management, (those of you hunting dove on state grounds in about a month - hows the third/fourth day of that hunt?) Instead of all these seperate deer seasons I would like to see them
combined somehow or is that literally just too dangerous.  Why a seperate muzzleloader weekend ect.

Posted by BIGPOND on July 27

Personally I don’t see any difference in a xbow than any new compound.  The xbow doesn’t shoot much faster and most decent compound shooters don’t have problems with shooting 40-50 yards with these new bows.  I used to practice all the time at those distances and was just as confident at 40 as I was at 20.  I really don’t see how the rule as it is now effects anything.  But I am also a believer there is nothing wrong with our deer heard besides they are adapting and getting smarter.

Posted by MattS on July 27

To expert professional hunters like all of us, there really is little difference between capabilities of xbow and compounds. But to 90% of the other hunting population, xbow could present a significant advantage. The true difference is not in accuracy or performance of the shot, but what happens before the shot. Surely none of us have ever been busted by deer when trying to position ourselves or draw for a shot with a deer making its way within bow range. And all of us are capable of holding a full draw for over 10 minutes while we wait for a deer to present a better shot. Surely that has never happened to us experienced hunters (note the sarcasm) but it will surely happen to less experienced hunters. The infiltration of xbows will help eliminate risk of these types of errors, which will = more deer kills. You literally barely have to move a finger to fire off an xbow at a deer. That’s a definite advantage. There’s more to archery hunting than releasing an arrow. Again, xbow is a weapon just like any other. There could be a place for it in Illinois deer hunting….but I don’t know if we should consider it in the same 3+ bow season.

Posted by Walston on July 27

Im fine whith anyone using anything to take a deer as long as it’s leagl and they know how to use it, as to not have arrows,bolts, slugs/bullets whizzing by me.  If crossbow is legalized for everyone to use it should be allowed during the firearm seasons only. This is the only way I can see the number of deer kills not being as many as if it were allowed during bow season. The tags would be firearm/crossbow.  I hunt all seasons gun and bow both, but I think on gun season, grouping all firearms/crossbows would be better. I’d have it about two weeks long or a few days lnger than all gun seasons combined now, middle of November. Also people should only be allowed to take 2 bucks 2 does in all seasons combined. 2 seems like a nice number.I’m not 100% sure on the rule since I only hunt public land and there are site (archery only) that you are allowed to bow hunt during the gun seasons, but I would allow the bow hunting at your own risk during the gun season.

Posted by bowfisher1 on July 27

I think Bowfisher hit the nail on the head.  The problem isn’t crossbows; it’s crossbow season.  If they were permitted in regular bow season, they’d be an advantage.  If anyone really wants to hunt with one for whatever reason, let them do it in firearm season.
And talk about slippery slopes if you were to let them in bow season.  Would a traditional muzzleloader (ball and patch, black powder, no optics) be really any more effective than a cross bow?

Posted by Murdy on July 27

the last few comments on crossbows really hit it on the head…everyone knows crossbows have a major advantage and with most people look for the easy way out..there would be more crossbows than regular bows in the woods and definitely the kills will go up….just leave it a be…

Posted by deer1 on July 27

I’m not sure if there will be more crossbows than regular bows, but this I do know.  More and more TV hunting shows are showing guys using crossbows.  If you’re a crossbow guy, please don’t take this the wrong way.  But don’t we bowhunters love bowhunting for the up close, personal, challenge?  I don’t want to get too corny here, but my love for bowhunting is almost spiritual.  With bows as they are now, isn’t already several times easier and more effective than it was just 20 years ago?  Sometimes I think it really has become just about the kill.  I shot more than you did.  Mine is bigger than yours.  That type of thing.  I do like the idea of people being able to use whatever they want, but I also like the idea of allowing crossbows during the regular gun seasons.  No increase in kills, yet hunters are still allowed the option.  Good discussion.

Posted by Treehugger on July 27

I totally agree that xbows shouldn’t be allowed for everyone.  If you can pull a bow back then you should use one.  But I like the law how it is now with a change for temporarily disabled hunters.  Let the older hunters use them, that no big deal in my book.  If your over 62 and are starting to have troubles pulling back a bow over 45 pounds, then I would rather them shoot a xbow and make a clean kill then go out there with a 40 pound bow and risk wounding something.

Posted by MattS on July 28

Reading between the posts, the problem is not xbows per se, nor guns, modern this or that, spiritualness.  Its about preventing anyone but the ‘real’ bow hunter from getting first and the prime opportunities to harvest the monsters. We don’t mind the youngsters or the older folks, just the guys capable beating me to the monster.  The fear of a population crash is overblown.

If cross bows become legal, I bet total harvest probably doesn’t go up drastically as most have a personal total limit.  The harvest may occur earlier as the x-bow may be more efficient. I would bet total deer population would actually increase due to less ‘near-misses’ by the bow hunters. 

Posted by virtualSniper on July 28

well, that makes one of us…

Posted by Walston on July 28

There’s some of good points brought up about crossbows,but some make no sense at all.Why would you put xbows in guns in gun season?They are called crossbows,NOT crossguns.Ethical hunters don’t care what their weapon is,because they are still make the right decision.Bad hunters will be bad no matter what you put in their hands.I always thought the law would be better if we had to shoot a doe,and prove it i.e.check stations,before we could shoot a buck.But this idea of crossBOWS during gun season,THAT IS STUPID!The herd will be just fine.

Posted by Birdkiller150 on July 28

Yes, we know crossbows are considered a bow rather than a gun. I want to say first that I have no prejudices against crossbows and would buy one and hunt with if the were legal for everyone. We will never know how crossbows will add to the harvest number at the end of the season until they are legalized but we can speculate.  Many gun hunters don’t bow hunt because they just never took up the sport or they can’t physically pull a bow back.  Is there anyone on here that gun hunts only that would jump at the chance to hunt all bow season with a crossbow?  I bet there would be quite a few. Also there would be alot of archery hunters who too would make the switch.  There has to be limits with a weapon as accurate as a crossbow(in the right hands).  Why are the gun seasons so short?  So the only logical way that I see would be to limit the season of the crossbow. This may be done after a few season of crossbows being allowed all bow season or it may be that crossbows are allowed all bow season forever.  That is all up to the DNR not me. It’s fine that you think its “STUPID” but I would appreciate you keeping the childish remark to yourself. This is a pretty good discussion so far, no need to get all riled up.

Posted by bowfisher1 on July 28

just by reading some of the comments you can tell who wants what… most comments seem to help the hunting while others are just out to benefit themselves..please keep in mine (most) hunters are out for the sport and challenge…then there’re the ones who are out for themselves and only care about the kill and numbers…we need to focus on how to get the DNR to change the regulations to benefit the deer hunting…we need unite…

Posted by deer1 on July 28

For what it’s worth, I don’t like the idea of “earn a buck” at all.  I’ve taken two very nice bucks on opening day in the past.  I’d hate to think that I would have had to pass them up just because I didn’t shoot a doe yet.  What about properties that have a deer population that is below where it should be?  Shooting a doe, a baby maker, would be the last thing that property needs.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

I’m not “riled up” BOWFISHER.And yes it IS still stupid!!!

Posted by Birdkiller150 on July 29

I’m NR, and no bone to pick, but from reading this, not sure how many deer a resident can shoot, but I would definitely have some regulation, 2 buck 2 doe for a period of time till low her recovers even if by county; “maybe” limit to 6 pt or better; xbow not during gun season, but limit to a number of days during entire archery season; and yes even though I am a 12 yr NR hunter of ILL, limit number of NR license, gun & archery.

Posted by danny on July 30

Ok well birdkiller, you must have a problem with the caps lock on your keyboard then. And since you decided to give opinion of someones though, I’m going to have to agree with treehugger in that I also do not agree with having to shoot a doe first before you can shoot a buck.  It’s well, how should I put it…...STUPID.  The question was what regulations would you change, not to give your opinion of the changes people would make.  What would your regulations be for the crossbow?

Posted by bowfisher1 on July 30

Same as bow. Different “book”,but same as bow.I don’t see how adding a weapon will “kill” the herd.There is no way that adding one more weapon will hurt ANY season.Too many does is a BAD thing. You have to keep the buck to doe numbers equal,and they are not.To call my words childish,LMAO,is stupid on to itself,and if you can’t take somebody’s opinion,then the problem is YOURS.Don’t throw rocks if you can’t catch’em.

Posted by Birdkiller150 on July 30

Having to many does is not a terrible thing for hunting, the problem is having to few does on a property, especially if there was a doe first requirement.  I hunt a property that has a doe first requirement and the 5 days I hunted it I saw 27 bucks and 2 does.  Taking a doe in an area where there are a big population of deer or to reduce deer/car collisions (Davenport,Bettendorf,IA city hunts)  but in areas where there is a low population of deer I could see that being a problem.  The issues I see with adding crossbows is all on the accuracy side, there extremley acurate when sighted in taking alot of the human error out of a shot.  While its great to make an acurate kill shot everytime there are times when people may pass on a deer because they are not 100% sure of the shot.When I shoot my crossbow and I hit the small dots on the target 100 out of 100 times that raises my confidence level of a shot.  High confidence in a shot means I will almost always take the shot.  With any addition of a weapon or change to regulations I would hope that we as hunters would first ask what will it do for the deer, for huting, but never what will it do for the hunter. I think crossbows will give an upper hand just like a gun (the range of the gun) which is why I think they should be used in a limited season, or the number or crossbow tags limited per person.

Posted by bowfisher1 on July 31

I would say if a kid hunts youth season he or she cannot hunt the regular season also, it’s one or the other. I would get rid of the rifle season and allow muzzleloaders to be used during shotgun season, but not have an additional rifle season for them like we do now. I would only allow one gun tag per person, and raise the fee for that tag to $50.

Posted by yellowstone on July 31

Bowfisher, how many beers had you drank before you wrote that ramble?

Posted by yellowstone on August 03

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