More than 96% of the land area of Illinois is privately owned. These lands provide the majority of habitat that deer depend on for food and cover.
While landowners do not often create conditions specifically for deer, they can fill a critical role in the sustainable harvest of deer, whether they allow hunting on their properties or not.
Those who allow hunting
Those who allow hunting on their properties can directly impact the deer population in their area. In the absence of doe harvest, a deer population has the potential to double every other year. Hunting helps keep the deer population within its carrying capacity.
Hunters must obtain permission from the landowner or tenant before entering the land regardless of whether or not the land is fenced, posted, or marked with a series of designated purple marks on trees or posts.
Landowners can create liability for themselves if they charge a fee for access. If no money is exchanged and a permission form is signed, there is no liability.
Those who do not allow hunting
Landowners who do not allow hunting essentially provide a refuge for deer during the hunting season as well as potential habitat throughout the year.
These sites should be viewed as part of the ecological mix that must be considered in management.
The concern over liability will impact a landowner’s decision whether or not to grant hunters access to their property. See Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act below.
Developing relationships with neighboring landowners can prevent trespass issues and foster an understanding of the different values that people place on nature.
Illinois’ Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act encourages landowners to make their lands available to the public for recreational or conservation purposes by limiting the landowner’s liability.
A Land Access Permission Card can be used by hunters to show proof that they have the landowner’s permission to hunt. It also allows landowners to keep track of who they have given permission to access their property and what activities are allowed (e.g., what species may be hunted, what dates and seasons the hunters are allowed, what activities are not allowed, etc.).
In return for the privilege to use private land, the hunter agrees to abide by landowner rules, obey all laws, conduct safe and ethical hunting practices, and waive any claim against the landowner for personal injury. This form is to be retained by both the landowner and the hunter.
Public Act 97-0477 givers landowners or lessees the option of marking property with a series of purple marks on trees or posts instead of “No Trespassing” signs.
Private hunting leases are an increasingly common practice used by small groups or individuals to secure sole access to hunting ground. Learn more in the Guidelines for Landowners section on the hunting page or at Outfitter Information.