Visitors to Illinois state parks, fish and wildlife areas, and other IDNR-managed sites with spring turkey hunting programs in April and May are reminded that hunting areas are closed to activities other than spring wild turkey hunting from one-half hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. daily during the spring turkey season. The hunting area safety restrictions apply to all visitors, including mushroom collectors. For turkey season dates, check the IDNR website: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/turkey/Pages/TurkeySeasonsDeadlinesAvailablePermits.aspx

No license is required for mushroom collecting in Illinois, but mushroom collectors always need landowner permission. On public sites, mushroom collectors must adhere to approved regulations and hours. Collection of mushrooms is allowed in many IDNR state parks, fish and wildlife, and other recreation areas, but it is prohibited in any area designated as a dedicated nature preserve. Areas under the jurisdiction of the IDNR that offer spring turkey hunting are not open to mushroom collecting until after 1 p.m. daily during turkey season to ensure the safety of all site visitors. Mushroom collectors should call ahead to the IDNR site they intend to visit to learn of any site-specific regulations.

The 2019 Illinois Spring Trout Fishing Season opened on Saturday at 59 lakes and ponds throughout Illinois. Fishing licenses and Inland Trout Stamps for those interested in fishing for trout are available at Illinois DNR license and permit vendors, and online through the IDNR website. For a list of locations stocked for the spring trout season and more details: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Pages/2019-Illinois-Spring-Trout-Fishing-Season-Opens-April-6.aspx

Residents of Illinois can apply now through April 30 for the first lottery drawings for 2019 Illinois Firearm and Muzzleloader-only Deer Season permits. Hunters can apply online through the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov. The first lottery drawings for firearm and muzzleloader-only deer permits are for Illinois residents only. Resident hunters can apply in both the firearm and muzzleloader-only lotteries. The 2019 Illinois firearm deer seasons are Nov. 22-24 (first season) and Dec. 5-8 (second season). The 2019 muzzleloader-only permits may be used Dec. 13-15 (and in the second firearm season, Dec. 5-8).

Don’t forget to buy 2019 Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman combination licenses now from Illinois DNR license and permit vendors throughout the state, or online through the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov. The new license year has begun, and 2019 licenses will be valid through March 31, 2020.

The 2019 Illinois Fishing Information guide is available at many IDNR license and permit vendor locations, and in PDF format online at this link:

https://www.ifishillinois.org/regulations/2019FishingGuide.pdf. Regulations in the guide took effect on April 1. A reminder to anglers and would-be anglers that Illinois Free Fishing Days will be during the Father’s Day weekend on June 14-17.

After the first weekend of the 2019 Spring Youth Turkey Season (March 30-31), youth hunters have harvested a preliminary total of 622 birds. This compares to 646 birds for the opening weekend of the 2018 season. The top five counties for harvest so far are Randolph (22), Marion (21), Jefferson (21), Pike (19), and Fayette (19). The Youth Turkey Season concludes this weekend, April 6-7.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: pamnsam@nwcable.net