Program bolsters state’s turkey hunting ground

Springfield — In a state with less public hunting ground than most, every acre counts.

Which is why hunters are taking good news where they can – specifically the recent announcement that the Illinois Recreational Access Program has added adult turkey hunting to its list of outdoor recreation activities on private land in Illinois.

DNR, which oversees IRAP, has approved adult turkey hunting for the 2017 Illinois spring turkey season’s third and fourth segment. Land is available in Christian, Clark, Fayette, Greene, Macoupin, McDonough, Sangamon and Schuyler counties to any registered hunter.

“As a way to attract new hunters to the sport, first-time turkey hunters (adults who have not hunted turkey in the past five years) can also apply for Brown and Fulton counties – in addition to the previously mentioned counties,” said Tammy Miller, who manages IRAP for DNR.

Miller noted that youth turkey hunters (under the age of 18) can apply to hunt on private property for the 2017 youth season and regular season segments 3 and 4 in at least 35 counties across Illinois.

As a bonus, the 2017 statewide youth turkey season has been expanded to two weekends – March 25-26 and April 1-2.

To apply for an IRAP spring turkey hunting site, hunters must go to the IRAP’s website and download an application and liability waiver, complete and sign it, and mail it to DNR.

Deadlines for applications are Feb. 23 for youth season and March 10 for regular season segments 3 and 4. In order to apply, the applicant must first apply for a turkey permit through DNR’s spring turkey lottery system.

“IRAP is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with private landowners to provide for much-needed access for hunting and other outdoor activities,” said DNR Director Wayne Rosenthal. “Landowners allow public access to their property in exchange for a minimal lease payment and a habitat management plan, but just as important, the landowner also receives assistance with habitat restoration of their property. It is an ideal public/private partnership that delivers positive results for everyone.”

All applications must be returned to DNR 30 days prior to the hunting season. Successful applicants will be notified by mail where their hunting site is located, be given a map, and an IRAP site permit allowing them to hunt on their assigned turkey hunting site.

For youth season, hunters will also need to purchase an over-the-counter DNR youth turkey permit after they have received their IRAP site permit packet.

To apply for your turkey permit through the DNR lottery, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/turkey/Pages.

Hunting, fishing licenses

DNR announced that Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses for 2017 will be available starting Jan. 16.

Again this year, the licenses will be available from DNR Direct vendors, online through the DNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling 888-673-7648.

The automated license system is available 24 hours a day.

The 2017 licenses purchased beginning Jan. 16 will be valid through March 31, 2018.

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