Illinois Firearm Deer Season Opens This Weekend

“Illinois has a great hunting tradition and the firearm deer season is a special time for hundreds of thousands of hunters in our state,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller. “I want to remind hunters to be safe while enjoying the firearm deer hunt and all outdoor activity in Illinois.” 

Hunters in Illinois harvested 98,820 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season in 2011. So far this season, approximately 334,000 permits have been issued.  For information on remaining permits, check the IDNR website at this link:

The legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Hunters successful in taking a deer during the firearm season in most counties must register the deer they harvest online through the IDNR website at or by phoning 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325).  Hunters using the online or phone-in system must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer.  It is recommended that hunters using cellular phones to register their harvest wait until they are out of the field and have a clear cell phone signal before attempting to make the harvest report phone call.

Firearm deer hunters in the 10 counties listed below are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season at the check stations shown between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.  Biologists will be present to take Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) samples for testing at the time of registration.  Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate.                                             

Note:  Successful Kendall County firearm deer hunters are also encouraged to bring their adult deer to a check station in one of the adjacent counties for testing, as IDNR needs additional samples from this county to properly evaluate the status of CWD.


Check Station Location


Boone Co. Fairgrounds; 1/2 mi. N. of Rt. 76 and Bus. Rt. 20, Belvidere


Shabbona Lake State Park; 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona


Gebhard Woods State Park; 401 Ottawa St., Morris


Elizabeth Community Bldg.; 210 N. West St., Elizabeth – 1/2 mi. W. of business district on Hwy. 20, next to Highland C.C. Elizabeth campus


Shabbona Lake S.P. (De Kalb Co.); 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona

La Salle

Buffalo Rock State Park; 3 mi. W. of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Rd.


Moraine Hills State Park; McHenry Dam Day Use Area, E. of McHenry on River Rd., 2.2 mi. S. of Rt. 120


Castle Rock State Park; Rt. 2, 3 mi. S. of Oregon


Stephenson County Fairgrounds; 1 mi. E. of Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Rd., Freeport


Rock Cut State Park;  Loves Park, 1 mi. W. of Perryville Rd. on Hart Road.



Hunters who participate in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer (listed by phone number) through the IDNR web site at
Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR.

While not believed to be contagious to humans or livestock, chronic wasting disease is known to spread from animal to animal among deer and elk. The disease affects the brain of infected animals, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die.  Illinois expanded its CWD surveillance effort in 2002 following the discovery of the disease in neighboring Wisconsin.

Other upcoming firearm hunting seasons in Illinois include the three-day Muzzleloader-only Deer Season on December 7-9, and the seven-day split Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season on December 27-30, 2012 and January 18-20, 2013.  Hunters are reminded that 10 fewer counties will be open for the Late-Winter season in 2012-13 (see map at

For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations, check the IDNR web site at this link:

Hunting Safety:
Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980, must successfully complete a hunter safety course before a regular Illinois hunting license is issued.

The number one cause of hunting incidents in Illinois is falling from a tree stand.
Of the 14 hunting-related incidents reported in 2011 that did not involve discharge of a firearm or bow, 13 of them were tree stand falls. 

When using a tree stand, remember the following:

  • Check ladder stands before climbing to make sure they are secure. 
  • Wear a Fall Arrest System/Full Body Safety Harness when leaving the ground until returning to the ground from the tree stand. 
  • Use a haul line to raise and lower your equipment and unloaded firearm or bow into a tree stand.

When hunting with a firearm, sportsmen should remember three primary rules of firearm safety:

  • Know your target and what is beyond your target.
  • Point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.


Illinois Department of Natural Resources