Photo by Chris Young
2023-2024 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest
A female northern bobwhite sits amongst the grass on this year’s cover of the 2023-2024 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest, the image captured by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office Director, Chris Young.
Printed copies of the 2023-2024 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest can be accessed from vendors located throughout the state starting in early August. You can also stop by the Illinois State Fair Division of Wildlife Resources’ or Office of Law Enforcement’s tent in Conservation World, August 10 through 20, 2023, to inquire about a printed copy. To pick up a printed copy elsewhere, you can find a vendor near you at https://www.exploremoreil.com/agentlocator.
A year-round resident of Illinois, the northern bobwhite is a member of the quail family, a popular game bird throughout the United States. In Illinois, bobwhite can be found from the northernmost to southernmost tip, particularly in hay fields, grassy fields and pastures. Easily discerned by its distinct “bob-white” whistle, the small game bird only weighs 6 ounces on average.
In Illinois, bobwhite populations are showing trends of decrease in population as a result of habitat loss. Habitat protection measures such as delayed mowing and proper practices for maintaining year round habitat for grassland species is further explained with IDNR’s CICADA site.
IDNR’s Division of Wildlife Resources coordinated preparation of this annual digest. Three key changes have been identified that hunters and trappers should note.
First, as of January 1, 2023, a single shot centerfire rifle is legal to be used while hunting deer in Illinois. This means deer hunters may legally use a shotgun, handgun, single shot centerfire rifle, or muzzleloading rifle during all appropriate seasons in 2023-2024.
The regulations defined in the Administrative Rule define “single shot” as a gun either manufactured or modified to only be capable of holding a total of one round in the magazine and chamber combined. Legal ammunition for a centerfire handgun or rifle is a bottleneck centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger, with a case length not exceeding one and two-fifths inches, or a straight-walled centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger, both of which must be available as a factory load with the published ballistic tables of the manufacture showing a capability of at least 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. For a list of legal cartridges, according to specifics listed above, visit IDNR’s Single-Shot FAQs page. Deer hunters interested in utilizing a single shot centerfire rifle are advised to review the 2023-2024 Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which provides all legal parameters in regards to the use of a rifle during Illinois deer seasons, found on page 16.
The second key change allows individuals to apply for permits to remove nuisance beaver lodges/dams, referred to as a Nuisance Animal Removal Permit (NARP) or a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator’s (NWCO) Permit.
On June 9, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed Illinois House Bill 2461 and Illinois Senate Bill 1745 into law, thus creating Public Act 103-0037 as it relates to Illinois Wildlife Code, Section 5 – Trapping. Section 5e, which details all of the regulations regarding harvests via trapping, has been amended to read “it is unlawful to destroy, disturb or in any manner interfere with dams, lodges, burrows or feed beds of beaver while trapping for beaver or to set a trap inside a muskrat house or beaver lodge, except that this shall not apply to individuals who are acting pursuant to the provisions of Section 2.37 or as provided for by administrative rule.”
Under this new amended change, property owners are allowed, with the correct permitting, to remove nuisance dens and nests. However, it is important to note that under this amendment, the required NARP is only provided to those who can document damage to their property. NWCO Permits are only issued to those who have passed the state exam and are certified as licensed operators. In short, hunters are still prohibited from tampering with dens, nests, dams, and food beds, but these structures can be removed by landowners experiencing damage, with proper permits. For more information regarding hunter and trapper interaction with dens, nests and feed beds, visit page 46 of the Digest.
The third and final key change changes the legal possession limit on river otters. Previously trappers were permitted to harvest and possess no more than five otters a season. With new changes to regulations, trappers are still only permitted to harvest five otters a season, but may possess “twice the season limit.” This adjustment in the possession limit accounts for personal trading. However, “fur buyers, tanner, manufacturers or taxidermists” are excluded from this rule as they are governed by their own set of regulations. For more information regarding trapping regulations as they pertain to river otters, visit page 47 of the Digest.
The Digest is available to outdoorsmen and women in many various formats, allowing them to access hunting and trapping information from a phone, tablet, computer or as a printed copy. The 2023-2024 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest also includes a quick reference card with easily identifiable dates for seasons and lotteries as well as daily and possession limits.
Suggestions regarding the annual Digest are welcomed and may be emailed to DNR.Wildliferecep@Illinois.gov.
Kaleigh Gabriel is a Wildlife Outreach Specialist with Lewis and Clark Community College, working out of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources building to assist the Division of Wildlife Resources. Growing up just between Sangamon and Christian counties, she spent a lot of her time hunting and fishing in Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in writing/journalism from Manchester University, Indiana.