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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.

IRAP's deadline for 2023 Youth Firearm Deer hunting applications was 5pm, August 10.

IRAP will begin accepting 2024 Youth Firearm Deer hunting applications on July 1, 2024.

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.

WherePlease see the list of sites below for remaining site availability.

What: All IRAP sites allow the use of bow and shotgun. Per the new Public Act 102-0932 that passed January 1, 2023, some sites also allow the use of centerfire, single-shot rifles in certain calibers for deer hunting.

IRAP's Youth Firearm Deer Season application deadline was August 10, 2023. However, IRAP still has a few remaining, available Youth Firearm Season sites. Please see the list of remaining sites below.

The deadline to apply for one of IRAP's remaining Youth Firearm Season sites is 5pm, August 21, 2023.

Sites will be filled on a first-come, first-come basis. Successfully awarded participants will be notified after the deadline has passed.

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

2023 IRAP youth firearm season remaining sites as of  8/14/2023
County Available Sites
Adams 1
Calhoun 1
Clay 2
Clinton 1
Cumberland 1
Greene 2
Hardin 4
Jersey 5
Johnson 1
Macoupin 4
Marion 2
Perry 1
Pike 1
Pope 1
Pulaski 2
Scott 2
Wabash 1
Williamson 3

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.

For a list of Participant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Youth Firearm Deer Hunting, please click on the button below:

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.