BY SAM VAN CAMP
The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) is accepting applications from youth turkey hunters for private land hunting sites in 22 counties throughout Illinois this spring. Youth under the age of 16 who have passed a hunter safety course are eligible to apply for spring turkey hunting on an IRAP site. IRAP sites are available for spring youth turkey season as well spring turkey seasons three and four.
Currently, IRAP has 101 sites for spring youth turkey season, 88 sites for spring turkey season three, and 93 sites for spring turkey season four available to youth turkey hunters.
Last year was the first year for IRAP and 77 youth turkey hunters were granted access on private land for hunting.
Counties with IRAP turkey hunting sites are: Adams, Bond, Bureau, Christian, Fayette, Fulton, Iroquois, Jersey, Lee, McDonough, McLean, Madison, Macoupin, Mason, Monroe, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Washington, and Woodford.
All youth hunters applying for an IRAP site for the spring youth turkey season will need to apply by Feb. 28. A lottery may be held if there are more applicants than sites for a county.
Successful applicants will be notified and instructed as to where their hunting site is located within the county they applied for, will be given a map, and an IRAP permit allowing them to hunt on the specified private property. Youth hunters will need to get their IDNR turkey permit at a DNR Direct license and permit local vender prior to their hunt.
Youth hunters wanting access to an IRAP youth turkey hunting site for either season three or four will need to apply for their turkey permit through IDNR spring turkey lottery. In addition, youth hunters will also need to apply for an IRAP youth turkey hunting site in the county for which they have a turkey permit. Applicants are encouraged to apply for their IDNR turkey permit as soon as possible. Sites for spring turkey seasons three and four are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
The 2012 season was the first year for the Illinois Recreational Access Program, and it proved very successful. Nearly 11,000 acres have been leased for IRAP activities. In addition to youth turkey hunting, IRAP also offers public access for fishing (ponds and stream banks), non-motorized boat access on public waterways, and outdoor naturalist (birding, nature watching and outdoor photography). Just as important to providing public access, IRAP also develops forest/wildlife management plans for the acres it leases and assists with the implementation of these plans.
Getting youth and families involved in outdoor activities, such as turkey hunting and fishing helps to preserve our nation’s wildlife and hunting heritage.
For more information or to apply for an IRAP turkey hunting site, go to the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/IRAP. Youth can apply for a turkey hunting permit at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/ApplyForDeerOrTurkeyPermit.
Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org