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Turkey Hunting

The Basics

The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) leases turkey hunting property from private landowners throughout Illinois and makes them available for controlled, public access. Turkey hunters must fill out an online application, and then IRAP serves as the "middle-person" in order to connect hunters to places to hunt while keeping the identity of the hunter and landowner seperate. Thus, hunters are not to contact the landowner, and landowners are not to contact the hunter.

Who: Any legally licensed hunter (Illinois resident or non-resident) who has completed their hunter safety course (if born in 1980 or after) and who complies with all Illinois hunting laws may apply, including:

  • Youth (under the age of 18): All Youth hunters must have a non-hunting, validly licensed supervising adult of at least 21 years of age accompany them. 
  • 1st-Time Adult: (someone who has not hunted turkey in the past five years)
  • Adult: (any legally licensed hunter over the age of 18)

Preference may be given to youth and first-time hunters, and those who currently serve or have served in the US military.

When: IRAP leases turkey hunting for Youth Season and Seasons 3 & 4 only. 

2023 Youth Season: 2 weekends- statewide

  • March 25-26
  • April 1-2

2023 3rd Season:

  • April 14-19 (South Zone)
  • April 21-26 (North Zone)

2023 4th Season 

  • April 20-26 (South Zone)
  • April 27 - May 3 (North Zone)

Where: IRAP leases over 20,000 acres of private land across approximately 40 counties in Illinois for turkey hunting. Most sites are at least 40 acres, and all have been evaluated for turkey activity to provide the highest probability of a good hunting experience.

IRAP will begin accepting Spring Turkey hunting applications in mid-November. Please see below for application deadlines.

Please note that no changes can be made to applications once application deadlines have passed.

Please do not apply until you have received your 2023 Turkey Permit for one of IRAP's available Spring Turkey seasons.

Don't forget to get your turkey permit in IDNR's turkey lottery BEFORE applying for IRAP in Season 3 & 4.

IDNR's First lottery deadline is December 1st.

Second lottery deadline in January 11th.

Third lottery deadline is February 9th. 

IRAP's FINAL deadline for Youth Season applications was March 20, 2023.

IRAP's FINAL deadline for 3rd and 4th Season applications was March 24, 2023.

How It Works:

Hunters applying for an IRAP Turkey site must complete an online application along with the accompanying liability waiver and non-hunting supervisor, mentor and or observer (if applicable) forms. Only successful applicants will be notified and receive instructions to where their hunting site is located within the county they applied for, along with a site-specific permit allowing them to hunt on the private property.

For YOUTH season: Youth hunters must fill out the Youth application above by Wednesday, February 15, 2023.

A lottery will be held 4 weeks before the start of youth season. Successful applicants will receive confirmation from IRAP within 3 weeks of the hunting dates. Once IRAP has confirmed that the applicant received a site, the youth hunter can purchase an over-the counter youth turkey permit.

For Spring Season 3 and 4: the applicant must first obtain a county specific turkey permit through the IDNR permit system (lottery). 

Please look at the statewide IRAP Turkey Site Availability Maps (above) –  Once an applicant receives his or her IDNR turkey permit, they should immediately fill out an IRAP Turkey application.

Additional Information

If you, the hunter, wish to take a non-hunting adult mentor or observer with you during your hunt, you will need to:

  • Include them in your IRAP application under the "Non-Hunting Mentor" or "Non-Hunting Observer" section
  • Have them sign the liability waiver
  • Make sure they do NOT hunt, carry a firearm, or bow

All youth hunters must have a non-hunting, validly licensed supervising adult of at least 21 years of age accompany them. 

Successful applicants will receive a packet of information, including an IRAP parking and site permit, a map, and directions to the site, approximately 3 weeks before the start of the season applied for.

You may apply for and hunt up to 3 turkey seasons/sites per year on IRAP property.

The hunter's and the landowner's identity are kept private from one another. We ask that the hunter not come in contact with the landowner, unless necessary.

For more information about turkey hunting in Illinois, please visit IDNR's Turkey Hunting site. 

Hunters MUST fill out a survey within 15 days after the completion of each hunt. Future hunting privileges are dependent on the return of your survey.

IRAP access is provided through cooperation of private landowners and the IL Dept. of Natural Resources. It is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's NRCS Voluntary Public Access-Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).

Participating is this program is a special privilege.

Please be respectful, ethical and safe.

Leave the site as you found it. Take ALL garbage with you.

Park your vehicle in designated parking area.