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  • Writer's pictureHootey Cline

Deer Hunting 101

Hunting can be an intimidating and overwhelming activity for those who are new to the sport. Here we will provide advice for those who are just starting out, including how to choose the right equipment, how to find a good hunting spot, and how to stay safe in the field. We will also discuss the benefits of joining a hunting club or organization, such as the Illinois Learn to Hunt program.

Deer Hunting Regulations in Illinois

To hunt deer in Illinois, residents and non-residents need a hunting license, a habitat stamp, and at least one pertinent deer permit. For more information on deer hunting regulations and season dates, visit the IDNR website or consult the Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest

Shooting Tips and Tricks for Deer Hunting

Next, let's discuss some shooting tips and tricks for deer hunting. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Practice with your rifle:

Familiarize yourself with your rifle and its trajectory by practicing at varying distances.

2. Train to shoot smoothly and quickly:

Anticipate quick shot opportunities and practice setting up your shooting rest efficiently.

3. Use a proper rest:

When possible, use a solid rest like a tree or a mono-pod for better accuracy.

4. Aim for the heart:

To ensure a quick and ethical kill, aim for the heart or the heart/lung vitals behind the shoulder.

5. Be aware of your limitations:

Recognize the natural limitations of your shooting position and adapt accordingly.

6. Stay calm and focused:

Concentrate on your sight picture, trigger pull, and target to ensure a successful shot.

7. Practice with a scoped rim-fire rifle:

Use a scoped rim-fire rifle that approximates the weight and feel of your deer rifle for affordable and effective practice.

Hunting Spots and how to find them

Finding good hunting spots in Illinois can be a challenging task, but with some research and persistence, you can increase your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you find the right hunting spot:

1. Improve your own hunting land:

If you own hunting land in Illinois, consider making improvements to attract more deer. This can include creating access trails, planting food plots, and providing water sources for wildlife.

2. Consider public hunting areas:

Illinois has numerous public hunting sites that can offer opportunities for deer hunting. Utilize resources like the Illinois DNR's Hunt Planner tool to find and scout public land near you. Some popular public hunting areas include Dixon Springs State Park and Sand Ridge State Forest. Keep in mind that public lands can be more crowded and may not offer the best hunting opportunities compared to private lands.

3. Look for key features in overlooked spots:

Deer often seek out places where they are less likely to encounter humans. Study aerial and topographic maps to identify key features in overlooked spots, such as funnels, pinch points, and bedding areas. Bucks may be found in areas close to roads or between parking lots, as these locations are often overlooked by other hunters.

By following these tips and conducting thorough research, you can increase your chances of finding a good hunting spot in Illinois. Remember to always follow safety guidelines and ethical hunting practices when in the field.

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