Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie announces hunting season updates and safety reminders

Hunters can go directly to trailhead parking areas and sign in

WILMINGTON – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie announced Tuesday updates and safety reminders for the 2021-22 hunting seasons.

Separate times are identified based on the type of hunt. Dates for 2021-22 hunting at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are as follows:

Archery season for deer runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 16. Shotgun season for deer is Nov. 19-22 and Dec. 2-5. Muzzleloader season for deer is Dec. 10-12.

Licenses for shotgun and muzzleloader hunting are awarded through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources lottery system. The IDNR lottery already is complete for the 2021-22 hunting seasons.

Hunting at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is available on all lands open to the public with some exceptions.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and is a federal facility. State hunting laws as outlined in the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations are enforced at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie with the additions specified in the Special Hunt Area Rules.

Additional rules have been developed for all hunting at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie consistent with USDA Forest Service policies and guidelines for recreation, public access and use. All of these conditions combine to provide a unique recreational experience at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie for visitors.

Hunters can go directly to trailheads and sign in near where they park. Additionally, there is no longer an introductory video. This updated process was introduced in 2019 and will remain in place at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie for forthcoming hunting seasons until further notice.

As in previous years, each trailhead serves as a sign-in location specific to a hunting area at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Now, hunters can go directly to a trailhead parking area and sign in at the seedbed kiosk at the River Road Trailhead (“P3” – River Road & Boathouse Road); at the Explosives Road Trailhead (“P5”- IL State Route 53 & Explosives Road); at the Iron Bridge Trailhead (IL State Route 53, just south of Hoff Road); and at the Hoff Road Trailhead (Hoff Road & Chicago Road). The trail map is at www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551074.pdf.

Hunters must be at least 150 yards away from parking lots and trails while hunting.

Safety for hunters

• Check weather reports before your visit.

• Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.

• Be familiar with the area.

• Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.

• Check hunting equipment before and after each outing and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.

• Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.

• Carry a first aid kit.

• Clearly identify your target before shooting.

• Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return).

• Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails.

• Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color.

Safety for nonhunters

• Make yourself more visible: Wear colors that stand out, such as red or orange, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing.

• Don’t forget to protect your dogs; for extra safety, consider bright colors for dogs.

• Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence.

• Hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement.

• Be courteous. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.

• Make yourself known. If you hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.

• Know when hunting seasons are. Continue to hike; however, learn about where and when hunting is taking place.