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Hunting at Lake Shelbyville

Lake Shelbyville offers a wide variety of hunting opportunities! Approximately 12,000 of the 23,000 land acres at Lake Shelbyville are comprised of Oak/Hickory Forests. View our Lake Shelbyville Hunting & Fishing Map which includes a back page filled with hunting & fishing information on Corps of Engineers Lands at Lake Shelbyville.

Game species at Lake Shelbyville:

  • Dove
  • Rabbit
  • Pheasant
  • White-Tailed Deer
  • Squirrel
  • Eastern Wild Turkey
  • Fox
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon
  • Woodcock
  • Waterfowl

NOTICE - Deer/Turkey Hunters:

Lake Shelbyville is considered a Special Hunt Area for Deer & Turkey. Hunters must apply specifically for Lake Shelbyville Project. A general county tag is NOT valid on the lake project.

Important Hunting Information

Office Phone: 217-665-3112

Address: 562 State Hwy 121 | Bethany, IL 61914

  • Kaskaskia Unit and West Okaw Unit
    • Located on the northern ends of Lake Shelbyville
    • 6,500 total acres
    • Waterfowl impoundments
    • Managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
    • Must have site specific permit to hunt on IDNR lands

In order to utilize a treestand or ground blind for deer hunting on Lake Shelbyville, a treestand permit is required.

Lake Shelbyville Tree Stand Permits now available for the 2019-2020 Deer Season

Lake Shelbyville Tree Stand Permits now available for the 2019-2020 Deer Season Lake Shelbyville – Lake Shelbyville's Tree Stand Policy for this year will remain the same as it was last season. The policy allows hunters to leave one stand up for the season (“Seasonal Tree Stand”) and/or utilize a “Roving” stand that can be left up for a period not to exceed a break in use greater than 72 hours – the length of a 3 day weekend. Seasonal tree stands may be placed 2 weeks prior to archery season and must be removed within 2 weeks of archery season ending. Archery season runs from October 1, 2019 - January 19, 2020. Hunters wishing to purchase a seasonal tree stand permit ($30.00) must present a valid hunting license before a permit will be issued. Seasonal and Roving tree stand permits may be obtained from the Lake Shelbyville Project Office Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and Bo Woods, Coon Creek, or Lithia Springs Fee Booths during operating hours. Roving tree stand permits, which are free of charge, may also be obtained in Sullivan, IL at Ace Hardware, Sullivan 66 (formerly Howy’s Lakeside) Gas Station located five miles south of Sullivan, IL on Highway 32, and Chip's Marine. Hunters can also pick up Roving tree stand permits at ACE Hardware, Lithia Resort, Craig’s Sporting Goods, Kidd's Archery which are located in or near Shelbyville. Hunters utilizing ladder stands are encouraged to purchase a Seasonal permit. A Roving permit is designed for the mobile hunter and requires the hunter to remove the stand from the woods if there is a break in use greater than 72 hours. While a ladder stand could be utilized in this manner, due to their size and weight they are not considered very portable. Because of this, numerous citations are issued every season to hunters placing Roving permit stickers on ladder stands and failing to remove them when not in use. The expense associated with a citation for Failure to Comply with Posted Restrictions is $80.00, which is approximately 2.75 years worth of Seasonal Permits. For additional information concerning the Lake Shelbyville Tree Stand Policy, contact the Environmental Stewardship Department at (217) 774-3951, ext. 7049.

Dog training will be restricted to 4 locations on Lake Shelbyville from April 1 - July 31every year. In December of 2006 a public meeting was held at the Lake Shelbyville Visitor Center to discuss restricting all dog training during the spring nesting season. Closure dates would coincide with the Shelbyville Fish and Wildlife Management Area March 31 - September 1 dates. Four designated training areas were agreed upon and a compromise on the dates was reached. The 4 training areas are scattered around the lake and total 1500 acres.

The 4 training areas are:
1. Cornbread Bottoms (South of Bethany) 514 acres; Open to all dog training.
2. Pogue Timber (NE of Findlay) 204 acres; Raccoon dog training only.
3. Houser (NE of the Findlay Bridge) 265 acres; Open to all dog training.
4. Windsor Gun Club (NW of Windsor) 517 acres; Open to all dog training. 

Training Area Maps:
Cornbread Bottoms


Pogue Timber

Woodard Road

Water dog training will not be restricted as long as the dog is worked from the shoreline. Any upland training for water dogs must be done in the designated areas. Adjacent landowners are reminded that it is illegal to allow their dogs to roam unsupervised on project lands at any time of the year.

Why is dog training restricted to certain areas at Lake Shelbyville?

Lake Shelbyville provides important nesting habitat for many species of wildlife native to IL. It is one of the largest contiguous blocks of habitat in Central Illinois and concern over disturbance to nesting wildlife was the driver behind the decision to restrict dog training to the timeframe outside of the nesting season. Lake Shelbyville was the last public property in IL to adopt these training restrictions. For further information on dog training at Lake Shelbyville contact the Lake Shelbyville Environmental Stewardship Department at (217) 774-3951 ext. 7049.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides special hunting and fishing opportunities to serve a greater segment of the outdoor community.

Hunting Opportunities

  • Annual Youth Deer Hunt
    • Columbus Day Weekend (IL Youth Deer Season)
    • Approximately 10 youth are drawn for the hunt
    • Hunters average a 70% success rate
  • Deer Hunt for People with Disabilities and Wounded Warriors
    • First Shotgun Deer Season
    • Approximately 25 hunters
    • Hunters average a 75% success rate
    • Headquarters/Deer Camp: Okaw Bluff Group Camp
  • Whitley Creek Recreation Area: Special Archery Hunt Area for Hunters with Disabilities
    • Second Shotgun Deer Season
    • Muzzleloader season
  • Okaw Wetlands
    • Controlled waterfowl hunting 
    • Special use permit is required

Tree Stand Policy

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Youth Deer Hunt

What is the Lake Shelbyville youth deer hunt?

The youth deer hunt is held annually at Lake Shelbyville during Illinois youth deer season. Youth hunters interested should keep an eye out for applications in the month of August and September. To apply for the hunt, youth must be less than 16 years old during the time of the hunt. Youth must also be accompanied by an adult on the hunt, and be a resident of Illinois. A youth either sex deer permit valid for the year of the hunt is also required. Generally, these are available for purchase in the month of September. Deer camp is held at the Okaw Bluff Group Camp where the young hunters and adults are welcome to stay for the duration of the hunt. Interested participants are encouraged to call our project office at (217) 774-3951 X4.

Dove Hunting

Due to wet conditions, Lake Shelbyville will not be hosting an opening day hunt.

However, South Sand Creek Dove Field was planted in mid-June and the flowers were mowed on 10-4-19.  All hunting will be first come, first served.  The flowers were mowed as if the stakes were there but NO stakes were placed. 


Waterfowl Hunting

Looking for an accessible & stress free place to hunt waterfowl? Okaw Bluff Wetland might be just the place for you!

Due to flooded conditions, Okaw Wetland was not planted.  There will be no reservations or fees for the 2019-2020 Waterfowl Season.  All blinds are available on a first come, first served basis.


Deer Hunt for People with Disabilities

Lake Shelbyville proudly hosts an annual deer hunt for sportsmen with disabilities. The hunt headquarters are out of Okaw Bluff Group Camp where hunters are treated to feasts & lodging for the duration of 1st deer season. 

Hunters have exclusive access to recreation areas around Lake Shelbyville where hunting is not permitted on any other occasion throughout the year. This event is put on FREE of charge, but limited spots are available. Applications for the annual deer hunt are available for download in March of each year with an application deadline of March 31.