SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is able to provide additional access for youth turkey hunters this spring.
Through the Illinois Recreational Access Program, the IDNR is accepting applications from young turkey hunters to hunt on private land on sites in 28 counties. Youth younger than 16 who have passed a hunter safety course are eligible to apply for spring youth turkey season, as well as regular spring turkey seasons 3 and 4. The deadline to apply is Feb. 27 for youth season and March 20 for season 3 and 4.
“The Illinois Recreational Access Program is an innovative way for us to partner with private landowners to provide much-needed access for hunting,” IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal said. “Landowners receive a lease payment in exchange for hunting access, and they also receive assistance with habitat restoration and maintenance. It is a model public/private partnership that provides positive results for everyone.”
More than 12,000 acres have been leased for IRAP activities so far, including areas in Madison and Jersey counties.
Applicants applying for Youth Turkey Season will need to download an application at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/IRAP/Pages/YouthTurkeyHunting.aspx and return it to IDNR prior to Feb. 27. Successful applicants will be notified where their hunting site is located. Hunters also will be given a map and an IRAP permit allowing them to hunt on the specified private property. Youth hunters will also need to get an over-the-counter IDNR youth turkey permit once they receive their IRAP permit.
Youth hunters applying for an IRAP site for regular spring turkey seasons 3 or 4 will need to apply online for an IDNR turkey permit as soon as possible. The application deadline for the next lottery drawing for an IDNR spring turkey permit is Feb. 9. Successful youth receiving his or her turkey tag for their choice county in season 3 or 4 will then need to send in an IRAP youth turkey application. Sites for seasons 3 and 4 are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Youth turkey hunting on IRAP leased property is available during three spring turkey seasons:
- Youth Season: March 28-29 (south zone) April 4-5 (north zone)
- Third Season: April 17-22 (south zone) April 24-29 (north zone)
- Fourth Season: April 23-29 (south zone) April 30-May 6 (north zone)
In addition to youth turkey hunting, IRAP also offers public access for fishing (ponds and stream banks), non-motorized boat access on public waterways, and outdoor naturalist (birding, nature watching and outdoor photography). Next year, IRAP will be offering sites for first-time adult turkey hunters and youth ages 16-18.
For more information, visit http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/IRAP/Pages/YouthTurkeyHunting.aspx or call Tammy Miller at (217) 524-1266 or email Tammy.Miller@illinois.gov.