The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is taking applications from youth and adult turkey hunters for spring 2022 turkey hunting on private land through the Illinois Recreational Access Program.

The IDNR has leased just more than 20,000 acres of private land for the spring 2022 hunting season through IRAP, creating 635 public access turkey sites in 41 counties. Sites are available during the 2022 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt and during the third and fourth segments of the 2022 Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season at no cost to the participant. All applications are now to be completed entirely online.

Youth hunters (age 17 and under) must be accompanied by a non-hunting supervisor (parent or designee of parent). Both youth and their supervisors must complete an IRAP application online by 5 p.m. Feb. 14, 2022. Youth hunters must acquire their over-the-counter permits prior to the start of their hunt if awarded an IRAP hunting site. A total of 254 sites are available for the two-weekend youth season (March 26-27, 2022, and April 2-3, 2022).

Another 370 IRAP sites are available for spring turkey season segments 3 and 4 to youth and adult turkey hunters. These sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters must have completed an approved Hunter Education Course (if born in 1980 or after) and received a spring turkey permit through the IDNR lottery for an IRAP-eligible county (see map on the IRAP webpage). Once a hunter receives their spring turkey permit, she or he may apply for an IRAP turkey site in the county for which they received their permit. The IDNR spring turkey permit first lottery application deadline is Dec. 1, 2021.

IDNR spring turkey hunting information can be found on the IRAP website: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/conservation/IRAP/Pages/default.aspx.

Applications for IRAP Spring 2022 private land turkey hunting sites can be found online at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/conservation/IRAP/Pages/First-time-Adult-turkey-hunting-.aspx

Only successful applicants will be notified by mail approximately three weeks prior to their assigned hunting period, upon which they shall receive a map, driving directions and an IRAP site permit allowing them to hunt on their assigned, privately-owned turkey hunting site.

Turkey hunting on IRAP leased property is available during the following hunting seasons in 2022:

• Youth Season: March 26-27 (statewide) and April 2-3 (statewide)

• Third Season: April 15-20 (south zone) and April 22-27 (north zone) and

• Fourth Season: April 21-27 (south zone) & April 28-May 4 (north zone)

IRAP is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service known as the Voluntary Public Access Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). Since its inception, more than 30,000 acres in 53 counties have been leased for a variety of controlled hunting and fishing activities. More than 17,000 acres of habitat improvements have been implemented on private land, and thousands of outdoor recreationalists have had a chance to enjoy the outdoors on private land. Hunters are placed on a specific site via lottery, with youth placed first, then first-time hunters, veterans, and finally seasoned hunters.

Through Sunday, November 14, 2021, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 47,711 deer, compared to 51,742 for the same period in 2020. Archery deer harvest for the same period (Oct. 1 through Nov. 14) in 2018 was 45,416 and in 2019 was 45,962.

The top five counties for Archery Deer harvest through Nov. 14, 2021 were Pike (1,635), Jefferson (1,224), Fulton (1,156), Adams (1,066), and Macoupin (920).

Vermilion County archery hunters harvested a total of 789 deer compared to 830 deer at this time last year.

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

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