Turkey Hunting Gets a Boost in Illinois

Estimated read time 4 min read

Turkey hunting in Illinois is set for a big change next year. Governor J.B. Pritzker has approved a law allowing the use of .410 shot shells as part of acceptable turkey shot sizes. This decision, championed by hunting groups, intends to increase the opportunities for turkey hunting for different groups such as kids, seniors, and disabled hunters.


Improving Accessibility

Josh Witkowski from the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources talked about the advantages of this new law. He said, “this increases chances for young hunters, perhaps those who are senior or disabled or even those who want less recoil while turkey hunting and essentially it simplifies hunting.”


Regulations in Detail

The authority to limit shot size, material, and density through administrative rules will rest with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Witkowski noted that the recent Supreme Court ruling that curbs federal agency influence doesn’t apply here. He clarified “Firstly this involves a state agency not a federal one, and secondly this was passed by legislators, we’re excited about its enforcement.”


The passage of Legislation

The legislation’s progress involved cooperation with various parties. The IDNR suggested legislative language to various outdoor groups and legislators which was unanimously agreed upon.


Technical Considerations

The updated law lets IDNR control the shot size within a .410 cartridge which is essential to maintain ethical hunting practices. He emphasized “The goal is to prevent anyone from using extremely small shot that would merely injure rather than kill turkeys.”


Discussion at House Floor

In response to queries by state representatives Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) about IDNR’s power to make rules regarding shot size and other factors, House sponsor Harry Benton (D-Plainfield) stressed the need for this flexibility in adopting newly emerging technology. “The point here is that technology keep changing and we must keep up without having to change the law each time,” Benton said.


Turkey Hunting Rules in Illinois

The law will be effective as of January 1, 2025.


Here are the hunting rules,


   Limitation on Catch

  • A male turkey (gobbler) or a hen with visible beard per permit is allowed.
  • Maximum three permits are permitted per person.


   Bait Concerns

Illegal activities include usage of live or digital turkey decoys, recorded bird calls, dogs, or bait.


  Calling Matters

Use of turkey calls mimicking bird sounds are prohibited from March 15 in Southern Zone till a day before the first season and from March 22 in Northern Zone until a day before the first season. However, these restrictions don’t apply to young hunters with valid license.

Dress Code

No specific clothing required.


Territory for Hunting

Hunters can only hunt were indicated on their permit at permitted counties or specific hunting area. Permission for hunting on private property should be gotten from owner or renter.

Time for Hunt

Half an hour before sunrise till 1 p.m.

Roost Restrictions

Illegal to shoot wild turkeys while they are up on a tree before 7 a.m.


Your Permit is valid only for the listed season.

Hunting Equipment

Equipment approved includes:

  • Long, recurved or compound bows with at least 30 pounds pull at 28 inches.
  • Crossbows that meet specifications
  • Shotguns (20-gauge to 10-gauge only, .410 or .28 gauge are not permitted).


Restricted Actions

  • Hunting without a permit for Wild Turkey.
  • Holding a turkey hunting permit that was issued to someone else.
  • Trade in wild turkeys is prohibited.

2024 Spring Hunt for Young Hunters

Scheduled on March 30 &. 31 and April 6 &. 7,2024


Other Conditions

  • In addition to a turkey permit, hunters must hold a valid Illinois Hunting, Sportsman’s, Youth Hunting/Trapping, or Apprentice License unless exempted.
  • All hunters over 18 except past prisoners of war and disabled war veterans must get a State Habitat Stamp.

In Conclusion

The latest law indicates major progress in making turkey hunting more available and adjustive in terms of different hunters’ needs. By allowing the use of .410 shot shells, Illinois widens the scope for more people to take up this traditional outdoor sport.

Celina Brooks https://www.southcountymail.com

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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