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Youth Firearm Deer Hunting

The Basics:
The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) leases deer hunting property from private landowners throughout Illinois and makes them available for controlled, public access. Youth Firearm Deer 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. 

Effective January 1, 2023, a new Illinois hunting law allows hunters to use centerfire, single-shot rifles in certain calibers for deer hunting. Please visit the IDNR's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Single-shot rifles and deer hunting in Illinois for more information. 

IRAP accepts Youth Firearm Deer hunting applications from July 1 through 5pm, August 10.

Who:  Any legally licensed youth (under the age of 18) hunter (Illinois resident or non-resident) who has completed their hunter safety course and who complies with all Illinois hunting laws may apply. All youth hunters must have a non-hunting, validly licensed supervising adult (at least 21 years of age) accompany them during scouting and hunting on IRAP leased private property.

When:  Youth Firearm Deer Season occurs during Saturday – Monday of the Columbus Day weekend. Scouting is allowed up to seven days prior.

Where: IRAP leases land from private landowners in exchange for specific, controlled access. Landowners receive assistance with improving their property through beneficial habitat projects. Currently, there are over 90 Youth Firearm Deer sites in over 30 counties throughout Illinois available for hunter access.

Please See the Map Below:

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

IRAP's Youth Firearm Deer Season application will become available July 1. 

How it works:

Applicants applying for an IRAP Youth Firearm Deer site must complete an online application along with the liability waiver and non-hunting supervising adult form.  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 granting them access to hunt on the private property.

Additional Information:

If a youth hunter wishes to take an additional, non-hunting adult mentor or observer with them during their hunt, they must:

  • Include them in their 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

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.

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.

Hunters MUST fill out a survey within 15 days after the completion of their 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 the designated parking area.