Illinois has a long tradition of hunting, passed on from generation to generation. It’s an important part of our history, culture and economy. Hunters were some of the early conservationists in our state, and they continue to support habitat protection through hunting license fees and taxes on guns and ammunition.
Hunting is also an important management tool for The Nature Conservancy. At some of our preserves, for example, white-tail deer populations have grown well beyond the ability of the plant communities to withstand their browsing. We employ hunting as a tool to control deer populations and reduce the damage they are causing, allowing plant communities to recover their full vigor and diversity.
The Conservancy in Illinois allows hunting on three of its preserves. Conservancy properties not listed below are not open to the public for hunting.
All hunters must adhere to The Nature Conservancy’s hunting guidelines when hunting on these Conservancy properties. Please click on the preserve names below to see specific guidelines and a map of hunting areas for each site.
Please note: There will be NO hunting at Spunky Bottoms until further notice.
Season dates on Nature Conservancy lands for deer and waterfowl generally follow seasons prescribed by the state of Illinois and can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) web site. At the Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, waterfowl hunting is allowed only during the normal waterfowl hunting season and is not allowed during the early teal season or the early, late or conservation goose seasons.
All hunters must have valid hunting licenses. For deer hunting, hunters must have the state habitat stamp issued by the IDNR. For waterfowl hunting, hunters must have both the state waterfowl stamp from the IDNR and the federal waterfowl stamp, which can be purchased at U.S. Post Offices or select IDNR offices. In addition, at Emiquon a daily lottery is held at 5:15 a.m. to determine hunters for the day. Click the preserve names for more information on the lottery.
For safety reasons, the number of hunters allowed at Conservancy’s preserves with hunting is limited. At Emiquon, the number of waterfowl hunters each day is determined by the daily lottery. At Grassy Slough, the Conservancy follows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' suggested limits of 2 gun hunters or 2 bow hunters per 40 acres.
We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities at Nature Conservancy preserves. This is a great way to visit preserves and gain first-hand knowledge of the lay of the land before hunting season starts. Volunteers clear fire breaks, help remove buckthorn and other non-native plants, plant trees and assist with many other activities. If you are interested in volunteering with The Nature Conservancy, please visit our Volunteer page.
Illinois Nature Conservancy Preserves
Learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s preserves on our Places We Protect page. You will find directions, maps of the preserves and information on the habitat and wildlife found at each site.