Crab Orchard NWR Hunting Regulations

All hunters are required to carry a signed refuge general hunt permit stating that they have read and understand the refuge hunting regulations. Hunting for big game, upland game, furbearers, waterfowl, and migratory birds is permitted. Special hunts are offered for youth, disabled, and senior hunters. Contact the visitor center for more information on how to apply for special hunting permits at 618-997-3344 ext 1. To ensure your safety and enjoyment while hunting on the refuge, please take the time to become familiar with the refuge-specific regulations. To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

US Fish and Wildlife Crab Orchard Visitor Center



Hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, marinas, boat ramps, public roads, and established hiking trails listed in the refuge trail brochure. State season and bag limits apply unless otherwise specified. Only Illinois legal game species may be taken in the open area of the refuge during the state season. All other animals are protected. Possession and use of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. Hunting is prohibited in areas closed to hunting as indicated on the accompanying map or as otherwise posted. Marking trails with paint, flagging, reflectors, tacks, or other manmade materials is prohibited. The construction of permanent hunting blinds is prohibited. Youth hunters under the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult no less than 21 years old and must remain in sight and have normal voice contact with the adult. Hunters born on or after January 1, 1980, must show proof that they have successfully completed a hunter education course.

Special Hunt Areas

Successful drawn hunters are allowed to hunt in the special hunt area. This is a controlled hunt with a lottery administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. For more information about Special Hunt Area hunts, please call the visitor center at 618-997-3344 ext 1.

Individual Regulations

Migratory Game Birds – 

Hunters may hunt migratory birds on designated open areas of the refuge in accordance with state regulations, subject to the following conditions:

  • Waterfowl hunting is not allowed in the restricted use area of Crab Orchard Lake
  • Waterfowl hunting blinds must be a minimum of 200 yards apart
  • Boat blinds must be anchored on shore or anchored a minimum of 200 yards away from any shoreline

Upland Game – 

Hunters may hunt upland game on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations, subject to the following conditions:

  • The use of rifles or handguns with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire is prohibited
  • The use of black powder firearms up to, and including, .40 caliber are permitted
  • Hunters must possess and use only nontoxic shot
  • The use of .22 and .17 caliber rimfire lead ammunition for the taking of small game and furbearers is allowed during state season
  • Upland game hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities.

Big Game Hunting- 

Hunters may hunt white-tailed deer and turkey in designated areas of the refuge in accordance with state regulations subject to the following conditions:

  • Special Hunt Area deer and turkey hunters are required to check in at the visitor center prior to hunting
  • Handguns for the taking of deer in the restricted use area are prohibited
  • Deer drives for the taking or attempting to take deer are prohibited
  • We prohibit firearm deer hunting on refuge lands west of Division Street and east of Blue Heron Campground and on all refuge lands north of Illinois State Route 13 and in the area north of Crab Orchard Lake emergency spillway and west of Crab Orchard Lake. (See Map)
  • Turkey hunters may only use and possess a non-toxic lead-free shot
  • Big game hunters may place stands or blinds with owner identification attached in the hunting area 24 hours prior to their hunt. Stands left vacant for over 24 hours or stands without owner identification are subject to removal.

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