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The Shawnee National Forest, USDA Forest Service is the largest public landowner in the state. This fact, combined with its diversity of habitats, offers sports enthusiasts a range of hunting opportunities. Each year thousands of hunters are attracted to the forest to hunt everything from trophy bucks to upland game and waterfowl. Private land is interspersed with federal and state land. It is the hunter’s responsibility to make sure they are on public land. Maps showing national forest land ownership are available for purchase at Shawnee National Forest offices.


The State of Illinois sets hunting seasons and regulations. These rules are applicable to Shawnee National Forest lands. To hunt on the Shawnee National Forest you must have a valid Illinois hunting license. If hunting migratory waterfowl, hunters must have a federal and state migratory waterfowl stamp, which are usually available where you buy a hunting license. To hunt deer or turkey, hunters must obtain, from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a deer or turkey permit in advance. Most hunting licenses and permits can be purchased on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.

Refer to the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations guide for specific information on hunting seasons and regulations.  This free guide is available at any Illinois state park office or by contacting the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources, 217-782-6384.

Much of the Shawnee National Forest is managed for wildlife habitat as part of its multipleuse management program. Mowing, disking or burning maintains wildlife openings. These openings produce more of the “edge effect”, supplying food in the openings and shelter in the woods. Roads leading to openings and waterholes are maintained to provide hunter access. Private croplands are interspersed with forested and shrub-covered areas on federal lands.

  • Hunting activities are prohibited in or within 150 yards of any building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area, pursuant to 36 CFR 261.10 (d).
  • All firearms and bows with arrows should be cased and unloaded while in a recreation area or other
    public areas.
  • Construction of or use of permanent deer stands is not permitted on national forest lands. [Pursuant to
    36 CFR 261.58 (v)]
  • Use of motorized vehicles off Forest development roads is prohibited within the Shawnee National Forest, pursuant to 36 CFR 261.56.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed ¼ mile outside developed campgrounds or developed picnic grounds pursuant to 36 CFR 261.58 (e).
  • Proper safety precautions should be adhered to as outlined in the IDNR hunting digest (i.e., blaze orange clothing, etc.)
  • Practice the Leave No Trace principles. To learn more visit

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities