November 1, 2018
Photos by Adele Hodde

Illinois Hunting Law Changes 2018–2019

By Eric Bumgarner

Throughout my career as an Illinois Conservation Police Officer, it was common to deal with individuals who, during enforcement situations, claimed they did not know about the specific law they had broken. While the vast majority of those individuals were being honest, it did not diminish the fact that as a hunter it is their responsibility to learn the laws prior to hunting. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) goes to great lengths and expense to publicize those laws including any updates or changes that may be necessary. The Illinois Hunting Digest is an excellent source of hunting laws and seasons. Paper copies of the Digest can be found at any licensed Point of Sale Vendor.

Effective January 1st, 2019 there has been an amendment to the upper garment blaze orange requirement. House Bill 4231 permits hunters to wear blaze pink clothing as an alternative to blaze orange but with the same restrictions. Chapter 520 5/2.33 ff states: “It is unlawful for any person to take any species protected by this Act, except migratory waterfowl, during the gun deer hunting season in those counties open to gun deer hunting, unless he or she wears, when in the field, a cap and upper outer garment of a solid blaze orange color or solid blaze pink color, with such articles of clothing displaying a minimum of 400 square inches.” 

From a scientific standpoint, the addition of blaze pink benefits sportsmen and women as deer cannot see pink as well as orange. The addition of blaze pink clothing certainly could have a positive impact on deer hunting in Illinois as it could encourage women and girls to become more interested in hunting, also generate additional equipment sales, and at the same time ensure that our hunters can be seen while in the field. 

Effective immediately is House Bill 5317 which requires people who illegally capture or kill whitetail antlered deer to pay restitution to the IDNR. This bill enhances the original as the synopsis states: “Raises the fair market value of replacement cost of various species protected by the Act. Provides that a person who possesses whitetail antlered deer, in whole or in part, captured or killed in violation of the Act, shall pay restitution to the Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $1,000.00 per whitetail antlered deer, and an additional $500.00 per antler point for each whitetail antlered deer with at least 8 but not more than 10 antler points. Provides that for whitetail antlered deer with 11 or more antler points, restitution of $1,000.00 shall be paid to the Department per whitetail antlered deer plus $750.00 per antler point.”

House Bill 5317 should leave no doubt that the State of Illinois is serious about protecting our deer herd. We have been blessed with one of the finest herds in the country which our hunters not only enjoy but also has a positive economic impact. 

If you would like to read these new laws in their entirety, please visit: and type the Bill number in the search field.

  • HB4231 (Blaze Pink clothing)
  • HB5317 (Increased fines) 

Until next time, learn the laws, obey the laws, and above all, have a SAFE hunting season!

Retired Lieutenant Eric Bumgarner spent 24 years with the Illinois Conservation Police. Eric is an avid outdoorsman and has a passion for protecting the natural resources.


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