The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is announcing expanded hunting opportunities for youth turkey hunters next spring thanks to the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP). The program launched last month by IDNR allows the department to use federal funds to lease property from private landowners in Illinois to make available additional hunting and public access areas.
“One of the great things about IRAP is the opportunity to get youth involved in the outdoors by signing up landowners who are willing to lease their property for specific public access use,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “The response has been fantastic so far, and I would encourage more landowners to take advantage in the coming months and years as our effort to expand public access in Illinois for recreational opportunities continues.”
One such activity is youth turkey hunting. Three spring turkey seasons in 2012 will be available for youth hunters through IRAP:
• Spring Youth Season, which gives the kids a head start on turkey season, will run March 31- April 1 (Southern Zone) and April 7-8 (Northern Zone)
• Season 3, April 20-April 25 (Southern Zone) and April 27-May 2 (Northern Zone)
• Season 4, April 26-May 2 (Southern Zone) and May 3-May 9 (Northern Zone)
Interested youth turkey hunters should download an application for an IRAP Youth Turkey Hunting permit through the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/IRAP . Applications and other information may also be found at many county Soil and Water Conservation Districts offices throughout the state. Hunters will need chose the county in which they wish to hunt and a random drawing may be held for each county/site. Youth hunters can request up to two turkey permits for the upcoming spring season. For example, they can request to hunt the Spring Youth Turkey Season and Season 4.
Not all counties will have youth turkey hunting available. Check the IDNR website to see which counties have IRAP youth turkey hunting available as well as how many hunting sites there are per county. Currently, there are more than 6,000 acres enrolled in IRAP in the following 14 counties:
**More sites are being added weekly so it is important to check IDNR website.
Other public access activities for which IRAP is leasing property are:
• To allow for fishing in ponds, rivers and streams, creating more places for families to fish.
• Creating additional access points along public rivers to enhance access by non-motorized watercraft
• To have places for nature lovers to explore, bird-watch and photograph wildlife.
IRAP’s goal is to promote outdoor activities for youth and families in hopes of educating and recruiting additional outdoor enthusiasts, as well as to expand public access throughout the state.