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Illinois Public Hunting Area Map

charliebravo77

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Sep 4, 2014
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202
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Chicago Area
With permission from Big Fin himself...

I know most people here probably hunt the Western states predominantly, but I know there's a few of us mid-westerners here too (until I can find a job that takes me west).

One of the biggest hurdles with DIY public land hunting is actually identifying public land to hunt on. In IL where I live it's a particularly difficult proposition as the DNR only lists sites alphabetically, broken into 5 regions. There's no convenient .kmz files like NE or KS, interactive maps like ID, no BLM maps since that isn't a thing here, and even the descriptions on each site are non-uniform and sometimes nearly useless. Seriously, check this one out http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/FactSheets/Pages/CopperHeadHollow.aspx

No directions, no street address, the only hint at a location is that there were services/amenities "available at nearby Pere Marquette State Park."

This is the map that was provided:
AzwGekB.jpg


No road names, no reference point. If I didn't know any better I'd think the DNR didn't care if hunters knew any of these places existed :rolleyes: That one took about a half hour zooming around on Google Earth to try and match up the topography and foliage, which not surprisingly has changed since that map was drawn.

Fortunately for anyone who hunts public land in IL, my hunting partner and myself have started a site/blog dedicated to DIY public land hunting across the country at www.engineeredpursuit.com / fb.me/engineeredpursuit

One of our first projects was going through every single public hunting area listing in IL, and mapping exactly where it's located (to the best of our abilities) and making it publicly available to anyone who is looking for somewhere to hunt in IL. We've even linked every location to its respective site fact sheet with species listings, rules, and regulations and provided a .kmz Google Earth file.

I0z3ZBp.png


engineeredpursuit.com/illinois-public-hunting-areas/

Hopefully it helps someone out in discovering a new public area to hunt. If you think what we've done is cool, give us a like on Facebook and check out our site. Thanks!
 

1_pointer

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Dec 20, 2000
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18,109
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Indiana
Well done! I'd like to give deer in IL a try some year and this may make it a bit easier.
 

jthurs

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Jul 9, 2014
Messages
21
This is great! I hunted southern illinois last year and had a great hunt killing a 137" 7 point. I will be going back for sure and this may open up some new areas to check out that are possibly being overlooked by nonresidents. I could not get the public land map to show but it could just be my computer, I will check back again later. Thanks for the effort!
 

charliebravo77

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Messages
202
Location
Chicago Area
The map is embedded on the page via Google maps, you may need to be logged in to a Google account to see it. I had that issue at on point but in theory you shouldn't have to be. If you download the .kmz it'll open in Google Earth and a number of other mapping programs, I was able to import it into Locus Pro which I use on my Android phone. If you still have trouble with it let me know.

Congrats on the buck! I've only been hunting for 2 years and haven't had a chance at one yet, just the pronghorn buck.

Thanks for checking it out!
 
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POk3s

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Aug 20, 2011
Messages
287
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Wyoming
Wow! Very nice! Now that illinois is done what are the next steps. I'm always looking for a midwest whitetail trip but you're right....figuring out the public land areas puts me into some sort of conniption fit.
 

Joe Hulburt

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Feb 23, 2012
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1,174
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Oregon Coast
I would expect that any public lands would be heavily hunted? Maybe not since they are so hard to locate?

I've always wanted to head east and hunt some of those giant whitetails but figure you need private land access??
 

1_pointer

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Dec 20, 2000
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Indiana
Joe- I'm only speaking for Indiana, but yes for the most part the public lands get hunted pretty hard. However, those of appreciable size have places to get away from folks. IMO, archery season is often a better bet for hunting deer doing their thing vs. getting away from pressure. But, firearms season is probably a better bet for filling your tag. The public places I've spent considerable time hunting have some bruisers come off them every year, but just like where you are it takes a lot of work to be able to do it consistently.

Private land access can be a great thing, but not all are equal. If you are ever interested in giving Indiana a try let me know. I have a place in So. Indiana that is close to a LOT of public land. A buck tag is $150 and you have to pick your weapon. But for $295 you can get a "deer bundle", which is a buck and two doe tags that you can use for any weapon/season. Seasons run from 10/1 to sometime in early January. IMO, the best time is after Halloween through the first weekend of gun season which always starts the Saturday after Veteran's Day.
 
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charliebravo77

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Sep 4, 2014
Messages
202
Location
Chicago Area
Thanks for the comments all!

POk3s: IL is what we're most knowledgeable about at the moment, but we plan on compiling as much information as possible for the entire country. It shouldn't have to be a struggle to find public hunting areas and information on hunting, so hopefully we can keep spreading the word.

Joe Hulburt: I'll echo 1_pointer in that archery season is the best way to hunt with lower pressure from others, though even then you need to get away from the major population centers. There's a public area I hunt about 2 hours from Chicago that has pretty heavy pressure from the locals, the same 4-5 names were on the sign-in sheet for 3 weeks straight. That said, depending on where you want to hunt there are areas where you might not even see another hunter. Generally it seems that the harder it is to access the property, or the rougher the terrain the lower the pressure. That doesn't necessarily guarantee success though. You can probably swat at least one deer during firearms seasons on just about any property in the state if you put in enough time but the "real" hunting is probably going to happen during archery season.
 

Gellar

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Jan 31, 2014
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The Driftless Area
Charlie, are you going to include the waterfowl management areas? Some are open to deer and can be productive ex specially before waterfowl season.
 

charliebravo77

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Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Messages
202
Location
Chicago Area
Which areas were you referring to? I know there's a couple management areas that are sometimes open for archery, to control populations but not routinely. There's also a few city parks that are opened up for special hunts as well. The map is every IDNR managed property, but if there's some places we overlooked I'm all ears. Can't have too much info!
 

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