Since Illinois is surrounded by popular bodies of water such as Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, finding a place to fish may be easier than finding a place to hunt.
But if you’re really more interested in hunting than fishing, fret not.
Although just 2.4% of Illinois is publicly-owned, there are several large state parks where you can hunt animals such as turkey, waterfowl, dove, raccoons, upland game, and the ever-popular whitetail deer.
If you can get past recent population declines and high-priced out-of-state permits (if applicable), Illinois is a dream destination for those who want to hunt the big whitetails. In fact, Illinois is often a fixture on the top lists for the best deer hunting states.
The timeframe around hunting season depends on the weapon you’re using, but note that only one deer is permitted per hunter per day.
The 5 Best Hunting Spots in Illinois
As mentioned, Illinois does not have a large amount of public space for hunting but what is available is more than good enough.
Here are the top 5 best places in Illinois to hunt for deer. Note that not all these places legally allow hunting.
#1: Shawnee National Forest
At 280,000 acres, Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois is the state’s largest public area. Located between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the National Forest Park terrain spans hills, woodlands, and rivers. Its steep terrain is perfect for whitetail deer hunting, as well as turkey hunting.
#2: “The Golden Triangle”
“The Golden Triangle” of Illinois consists of the three counties that have the largest cumulative number of buck entries. Comprising 14,000 acres, these include the counties of Pike, Brown, and Adams county, which are nestled between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
So what’s the catch? Because these counties hold the largest records in the entire state, hunting rates are usually steep.
#3: Cook County
Big bucks (pertaining both to the animal and money spent on taxes) find a home in Cook County, which calls Chicago it’s own. For the past few years, there have been reports of antlers being found in the Cook County Forest Preserve, but hunting is strictly prohibited.
#4: Siloam Springs State Park
Siloam Springs State Park located in the Adams and Brown counties of Illinois boasts 3,323 acres in land area, with excellent deer, turkey, and small game hunting opportunities.
#5: Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area
With over 18,900 acres of water and more than 20,000 acres of land, hunting, and fishing opportunities abound at the Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area. Turkeys, ducks, geese, raccoons, and (of course) whitetail deer are present year-round.
Why You’ll Want a Hunting Cabin in Brown County (or nearby Illinois)
Deer hunting season in Illinois starts in the latter part of the year around the Fall season, sometime between October to December — some lasting until January. Until then, every seasoned hunter waits out that time of year by preparing equipment, honing shooting skills, and scoping out the perfect hunting grounds.
Though time-consuming, these efforts pay off when it comes to the actual hunting process.
One of the best ways to prepare for hunting season is to proactively look for accommodations near your desired hunting ground. For serious hunters that hunt frequently or go on multi-day trips, booking a hunting cabin can be useful.
These hunting cabins can act as useful places to leave your items so you don’t have to lug all of your equipment around, as well as a place to rest and unwind after a long day’s hunt. Additionally, if you frequently hunt out-of-state, they can act as accommodations for family members that you’ve brought along.
How to Pick a Hunting Cabin
There’s a misconception that purchasing or having a hunting cabin built is expensive. However, if you’re a frequent hunter in a certain area, it probably makes more sense to invest in one than to be constantly renting access to accommodations.
Not only will you have a permanent and comfortable place to stay and invite friends and family to — you can also rent out your hunting cabin when you aren’t using it to justify the expense (and perhaps even profit off it).
Here are some factors to consider when determining how to pick a hunting cabin in Brown County Illinois (or your favorite hunting spot):
- Since you won’t be staying there year-round, cost is an important consideration. A simple cabin will probably be sufficient for your needs as long as you don’t scrimp on materials.
- Smaller cabins are easier to maintain, but the size of your cabin will also depend on how big of an area is available to put up a cabin, how many items (like furniture) you want to put in, and how many people you want to invite to join you.
- Do you need to have a hunting cabin ASAP or is that a project you can wait a year or more out?
- Is the cabin in an area generally considered to be safe? Are there other cabins nearby? Is it easy to access?
Different Types of Hunting Cabins
Learning how to pick a hunting cabin in Brown County Illinois ultimately comes down to the question: will this space enhance my hunting experience?
Here are some different ways that a hunting cabin might come together:
- Designed and built from the ground up. The biggest advantage of having a hunting cabin built from scratch is the ability to customize your hunting cabin’s design. However, it can be one of the most expensive options, especially when adding up labor and material costs. If you opt to do it yourself during your free time, it may take you up to a year and a half to complete. There is also the option for DIY log cabin kits, but you will still need your own logs.
- Shipping container van. Shipping containers are bulletproof, watertight, airtight, and can withstand heavy storms and other natural elements without sustaining any damage. They have been used to build other structures, such as hotels and restaurants, so why not hunting cabins? An added advantage of using shipping containers is that they are regarded as temporary structures in some states and therefore permits are not needed when converting the shipping container into a hunting cabin.
- Hunting shed. If you’re looking for a mix of the aforementioned options, why not go with a prefabricated shed? Prefab sheds, like those offered by Countryside Barns, can be customized using our Shed Designer tool and can be ready and delivered in a few day’s time.
Final Thoughts: How to Pick a Hunting Cabin in Brown County Illinois
Although the majority of Illinois is devoted to agriculture, it’s a great hunting playground year-round and is often included in lists of the best places to hunt whitetail deer. If you frequently find yourself in the area or go on multi-day trips, consider getting a hunting cabin of your own as a resthouse to bond with the family or leave your equipment.
Hunting cabins do not have to be grandiose; there are several affordable options depending on your requirements and timeframe. If a prefabricated shed sounds like your perfect fit, get in touch with the experts at Countryside Barns to get the process started!