Access Illinois Outdoors is a program where outdoor enthusiasts
are matched with private landowners for whitetail deer hunting, turkey hunting,
and other outdoor recreational experiences such as hiking, bird watching,
fishing, camping, trail riding , biking, photography, etc.  This innovative
concept is designed to increase the public's outdoor recreational
 opportunities by facilitating access to private lands.



IDNR Announces 2014-15 Waterfowl Season Dates
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced proposed waterfowl season dates and bag limits for the 2014–15 seasons. The recommendations include 60-day duck seasons in each of the state’s four waterfowl hunting zones, along with Canada goose hunting seasons of 90 days in the North and Central zones, an 85-day Canada goose season in the South Central Zone, and a 66-day Canada goose season in the South Zone. Goose season lengths are shorter in the South Central and South zones to coincide with duck season dates and match hunter preferences.

The Illinois seasons are based on a five-year plan for waterfowl hunting season dates that was developed in 2011 and continues through the 2015–16 season. For 2014–15, Illinois will open the regular duck, Canada goose, and snow goose seasons on Oct. 18 in the North Zone, Oct. 25 in the Central Zone, Nov. 8 in the South Central Zone, and Nov. 27 in the South Zone. White-fronted goose seasons open Nov. 3 in the North Zone, Nov. 19 in the Central and South Central zones, and Nov. 27 in the South Zone.

The proposed daily duck bag limit is six (6) and may include no more than four (4) mallards (two hens), three (3) wood ducks, three (3) scaup, two (2) redheads, two (2) pintails, one (1) canvasback, one (1) black duck, and one (1) mottled duck. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is five (5), only two of which may be hooded mergansers. The possession limit for ducks and mergansers is three times the daily bag limit by species and sex.

Canada and white-fronted goose daily bag limits will be two (2) with a possession limit of six (6). The snow goose daily bag limit is 20 birds, with no possession limit.

Illinois’ regulations are subject to final approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later this summer.

The IDNR 2014–15 season dates are outlined below.

Illinois Waterfowl Regular Season Dates - 2014–15

North Zone Youth Hunt Duck Canada Goose

2014–15 Oct. 11 – 12 Oct. 18 – Dec. 16 Oct. 18 – Jan. 15

Central Zone

2014–15 Oct. 18 – 19 Oct. 25 – Dec. 23 Oct. 25 – Nov. 16 and Nov. 26 – Jan. 31

South Central Zone

2014–15 Nov. 1 – 2 Nov. 8 – Jan. 6 Nov. 8 – Jan. 31

South Zone

2014–15 Nov. 15 – 16 Nov. 27 – Jan. 25 Nov. 27 – Jan. 31

Illinois Snow Goose and White-Fronted Goose Season Dates – 2014--15

North Zone
Snow Geese
Regular Season: Oct. 18 – Jan. 15
White-fronted Geese: Nov. 3 – Jan. 15

Central Zone
Snow Geese
Regular Season: Oct. 25 – Jan. 31
White-fronted Geese: Nov. 19 – Jan. 31

South Central Zone
Snow Geese
Regular Season: Nov. 8 – Jan. 31
White-fronted Geese: Nov. 19 – Jan. 31

South Zone
Snow Geese
Regular Season: Nov. 27 – Jan. 31
White-fronted Geese: Nov. 27 – Jan. 31

The Illinois waterfowl zone maps are available on the IDNR website at

The September 2014 early Canada goose season is Sept. 1–15, with a daily limit of five (5) and a possession limit of 15 geese in the North and Central zones, and a daily limit of two (2) and a possession limit of six (6) geese in the South Central and South zones. Illinois’ 16-day 2014 statewide teal hunting season is Sept. 6–21, with a daily limit of six (6) and a possession limit of eighteen (18). Shooting hours for the September teal season are different from the regular season, starting at sunrise (½ hour later than regular season) until sunset.

Spring Conservation Order snow goose season will begin the day after the close of regular goose season in each zone and run through March 31. There is no daily bag limit on snow, blue, and Ross’ geese during this season.

Additional details on the duck, goose, and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available on the IDNR website at and in the 2014 Illinois Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in September.

Illinois will begin to develop a new five-year plan for waterfowl zone lines and season dates for the 2016–2020 seasons following the 2014–15 waterfowl season. Hunters should look for opportunities to engage with the Department to help identify hunters’ preferences for season dates and zones.
IDNR Recovering Alligator Snapping Turtles
Partners coordinate release of endangered species in southern Illinois creeks
UNION COUNTY, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) took the first steps in recovering the state-endangered alligator snapping turtle to its natural range in southern Illinois last week by releasing 97 turtles of various ages over three days. The alligator snapping turtle – the largest freshwater turtle in North America – has been rarely seen in Illinois for decades due to channelization, levying, and draining of floodplain wetlands.

Last week’s release of turtles in muddy creeks in southern Illinois was part of a multi-state effort involving Illinois, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to recover or augment declining populations of the alligator snapping turtle.

Funding for the recovery project is from a multi-state competitive State Wildlife Grant awarded to the three states by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The grant will cover the costs of long term monitoring and tracking of the released turtles, which have been equipped with radio transmitters. The turtles released in Illinois were produced by the Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma, and they were paid for by donations to the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund, as well as a grant awarded by State Farm Insurance Companies to Pontiac Township High School science teacher Paul Ritter as part of the school’s Operation Endangered Species classroom initiative.

As part of last week’s release of alligator snapping turtles in Union County, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) staff recorded data about each turtle and affixed transmitters and iButton dataloggers to the turtles. The INHS staff was assisted with the turtle releases by staff from the IDNR Division of Natural Heritage, the Peoria Zoo, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale zoology students, along with students and staff from Pontiac Township High School and Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago.

"Recovering endangered species in Illinois, like the alligator snapping turtle, are important in that they increase biodiversity to areas where the species historically occurred, and they increase the likelihood that the species will continue to thrive in the Mississippi River basin,” said Scott Ballard, IDNR herpetologist and project leader. “This effort could not have occurred without all the partners assisting in this effort.”

A large number of organizations are partnering with the IDNR to provide support for the multi-state recovery project:

• The INHS has been contracted to conduct the telemetry studies monitoring the released turtles in Illinois, and the INHS is providing all the transmitters and iButton dataloggers for the three cooperating states.
• The Peoria Zoo has been holding older alligator snapping turtles for the past several years for supplemental releases by the IDNR.
• The St. Louis Zoo has been breeding alligator snapping turtles from their captive colony to provide hatchlings that will be raised by various schools in Illinois as part of the Pontiac High School Operation Endangered Species effort until those turtles are large enough to release.
• Other partners include the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine, Missouri State University, Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
• The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission facilitated permits to transport the turtles from the Tishomingo hatchery through their respective states.
IDNR Announces Changes for 2014-2015 Deer Hunting Seasons
Twenty additional counties removed from late-winter season: permits reduced for some counties
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller announced changes to the 2014-2015 deer hunting seasons today, including the removal of 20 additional counties from the late-winter season and a reduction in the number of firearm permits available in some counties. IDNR biologists made recommendations for the coming season following a review of deer hunting harvest numbers, deer-vehicle accident data, a survey of Illinois deer hunters, hemorrhagic disease reports and other factors.

“Solid science is the basis of our deer program,” said Director Miller. “These changes reflect our commitment to professional management of the state’s deer population to provide recreational opportunity while being mindful of public safety and the rights of property owners.”

In 2008, the IDNR began using trends in the rate of deer-vehicle accidents (DVA) as an index of deer population status in each county and adopted a specific objective for each county based on accident rates. Those initial objectives for each county were set at the point halfway between the lowest and highest rates occurring in that county between 1994 and 2007. IDNR’s statewide target called for a 14 percent reduction in accident rate from the peak observed in 2003, but individual goals and the changes needed to reach them varied widely by county. That statewide goal was first reached in 2012, but some counties still remain above goal.

The most recent goal changes, which adjusted the deer goals higher in 41 counties, were announced in February of this year:

“In order to be effective, Illinois’ deer management program adapts as new information is learned, as problems arise, or as public perception and tolerance changes,” said Paul Shelton, IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager.

What hunters should know:

Late-Winter Antlerless Only Season
The Late-Winter Antlerless-Only Deer Hunting Season will be closed in 20 additional counties this year. These include Adams, Bond, Bureau, Calhoun, Clinton, Cumberland, Fayette, Hancock, Jefferson, Jersey, Logan, Menard, Perry, Randolph, Richland, Sangamon, Scott, St. Clair, Whiteside, and Woodford. Thirty-two counties already are closed to the late-winter season. Thirty-five counties remain open for the late-winter season, while an additional 12 counties are open for the special chronic wasting disease season held concurrently. Three counties in northeast Illinois are not open for firearm hunting. See attached map for the status of your county:

Firearm hunting permits
The number of firearm permits has been reduced in some counties. Statewide, the number of either-sex permits is being reduced by 4,925. Antlerless-only permits are being reduced by 6,375. The 11,300 permits amount to a reduction of about 4.1 percent. Last year, 277,585 firearm permits were available, compared with 266,285 for the upcoming season. Quota reductions begin immediately and will affect the second firearm lottery. See attached spreadsheet detailing permit changes for each county:

Key decision-making factors:

Deer vehicle accidents
Deer-vehicle accidents are an accurate barometer of Illinois deer population trends. The deer-vehicle accident (DVA) rate in 2013 was similar to 2012, even though deer harvest numbers declined from 180,811 in 2012 to 148,614 in 2013. Poor weather conditions during the firearm seasons probably affected both hunter participation and success rates, and recent hemorrhagic disease outbreaks likely had at least localized effects, as well.

In 2013, the DVA rate of 145.3 accidents per billion miles driven was down slightly from 148.3 in 2012. With a few exceptions, counties that stay below their DVA goal for two consecutive years are removed from the late-winter season:

Prepare for the upcoming hunting seasons by taking a hunter safety course. Find a course near you here: