US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Louis District

Lake Shelbyville Links


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

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

Tree Stand Policy for Lake Shelbyville (and Frequently Asked Questions)


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, 2016 - 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, Phillip’s 66 (formerly Howy’s Lakeside) Gas Station located five miles south of Sullivan, IL on Highway 32, and Chips's Marine. Hunters can also pick up Roving tree stand permits at ACE Hardware, Lithia Resort, Craig’s Sporting Goods, Kidd's Archery, or Yotes Archery Den 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.


Shelbyville Fish and Wildlife Management Area 
  • 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
    • Need a online site windshield permit? Click here!
    • Need a map of these areas?  Click here!

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

Tree Stand Policy for Lake Shelbyville

To view this as a PDF click here


  The policy allows licensed hunters to leave one stand up for the season (“Seasonal Tree stand”) and/or utilize a “roving” stand(s) that can be left up for a period of 72 hours – the length of a 3 day weekend.  Lake Shelbyville staff feels this provides the flexibility many hunters have requested while maintaining the integrity of the resource and addressing abuses that have led to the appearance of private exclusive use. 


The Policy is as follows:


1)      All deer hunters utilizing deer stands or ground blinds, regardless of weapon, will be required to obtain a site permit in order to hunt white-tailed deer on the US Army Corps of Engineers managed portion of Lake Shelbyville.      


2)      Each permit will come with either:

i)        A numbered tamper proof sticker for one (1) Seasonal Tree stand that can be left in the woods from September 15 – February 1.  Only one (1) seasonal permit per LICENSED hunter/year will be permitted. 

ii)      Up to two (2) numbered tamper proof stickers for a roving tree stand(s) that can be left in the woods for up to 72 hours (a climbing stand and a loc-on for example). 

iii)    Both.

iv)    Note: A valid hunting license must be presented in order to obtain a seasonal tree stand permit. 


3)      If there is a break in use of the roving tree stand of more than 72 hours the stand must be removed from the woods. 


4)      An administrative/service fee of $30.00 will be charged for seasonal tree stands. Stickers for roving stands will be issued at no cost.


5)      The numbered sticker assigned to each hunter must be attached to the tree stand in such a way that it will be readily visible from the ground.    


6)      The numbers must remain legible throughout the entire season.  Any tree stands not marked or with illegible numbers will be impounded upon discovery.


7)      Absolutely no hardware such as screw-in steps, nails, bolts, railroad spikes, bow hangers, or anything else that pierces the bark of the tree may be used.  Such objects impact the value of timber products and/or kill or weaken the tree.  There are many products on the market today that will not inflict damage.  The citation forfeiture for this infraction is $225.00.        


8)      Excessive Pruning – While minor pruning of shooting lanes is acceptable, many instances of excessive pruning are noted each year.  Common sense will dictate the definition of excessive pruning and will be up to the discretion of the Park Ranger. 


9)      The penalty for violating the policy will be any of the following as deemed appropriate:

i)        Citation

ii)      Loss of stand

iii)    Impoundment fee

iv)    Loss of privileges for the current season

v)      Loss of privileges for current season and following year


10)  If it is readily apparent that a tree stand was placed with the help of an off road vehicle (ORV) on government property, the owner of that stand will receive a citation for ORV use ($150.00).  In the past many of the large ladder stands were impermissibly being placed with ORV assistance.


11)  All hunters utilizing a tree stand on Lake Shelbyville Corps of Engineers managed lands must wear a Fall-Arrest System/full body harness approved by the Tree Stand Manufacturer’s Association.


This policy is in effect for the 2013 season. 


Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: Why is this policy in effect?


A: Prior to this policy there was an excessive number of tree stands being left in the woods year around creating a public safety hazard and negatively impacting the resource.  The appearance of private exclusive use of public property was also readily apparent to many users of the resource.


Q: Why are screw-in steps, bow hangers, etc. banned?


A: They have always been prohibited from use – unfortunately many have chosen to ignore this.  Our timber resources on Lake Shelbyville are valuable and screw in devices may kill or weaken the health of the tree, damage the value of the tree along with creating safety hazards if hit by a chainsaw.


Q: What do you mean by “excessive” pruning?


A: Trimming a few limbs here and there for shooting lanes is not a problem.  However, one frequent example of excessive pruning is when large trees are cut.


Q: How much will my permit cost and will I have to renew it each year?


A: There will be an administrative/service cost of $30.00 to obtain a permit to leave a single stand up for the season (a seasonal tree stand).  All checks must be made payable to FAO USACE, St. Louis District.  The user will have to renew it each year.  A permit for a roving stand(s) will be issued at no cost and must be renewed each year.


Q: I hear Corps rangers are going to be scouring the woods for illegal stands during deer season, checking me in my tree stand, and ruining my hunt.  Is this true?


A: Lake Shelbyville has a staff of Rangers dedicated to Natural Resource Management.  These Rangers are typically in the field in the outlying lands (outside the campgrounds) on a daily basis working on things such as invasive species control, timber stand improvements, food plots, succession mowing, etc. and their work does NOT cease during deer season.  Expect to see these Rangers in the woods at the levels you have seen in past years.  As long as compliance is good their will not be increased enforcement, however, if compliance is poor, efforts will be increased.


 Q: Once 72 hours is up for my roving stand do I have to remove my stand?


A: Title 36 has a 24 hour time limit, meaning if a stand is not occupied sometime within a 24 hour period it must be removed.  The Tree Stand Policy eases this restriction and allows a hunter up to 72 hours between hunts before the stand must be removed.  Every time the hunter hunts the stand, it resets the 72 hour time limit.  For example, if the hunter hunts their stand every 3 days it can potentially be left for the season.  However, if there is a break in use of more than 72 hours, the stand must be removed from the woods.


Q: The 72 hours rule sounds like a loophole, how will you know if I hunted it within the last 72 hours?


A: Our intent is to ensure that stands on Corps property are being utilized by hunters and not just left in the woods as place holders to discourage other potential users from hunting an area.  Corps Rangers will have tags with them and when stands are found during their daily duties (their work does NOT stop during deer season) they will tag the stand with the date and time marked on it and the sticker number noted.  If the hunter does not contact the office number on the tag sometime within a 72 hour time frame it will be apparent they were not hunting the stand and in violation of the policy.  A citation will be issued for failure to comply.     


Q: What happens to my stand if I do not call within 72 hours of a Ranger tagging my stand?


A: The person will be contacted by the Ranger, issued a citation for failure to comply with posted restrictions, and given 72 hours to remove the stand.  If the stand is not removed within that timeframe it will be impounded. 


Q: If I plan on removing my stand after each hunt do I still need a permit?


A: Yes, otherwise there would be no way to identify the stand and we might inadvertently impound it if you were taking a lunch break, etc.  Stands found without stickers are immediately impounded because there is no way of knowing whose stand it is.


Q: What will happen to my stand if it is impounded?


A: To get it back there is a $50.00 impoundment fee and possibly citation forfeiture (depending upon the circumstances).  If 120 days has passed from the impoundment date the tree stand becomes government property and will be disposed of according to regulations.


Q: What if someone tampers with my stand number causing it to be impounded?


A: It is the owner’s responsibility to clearly mark the stand with the tamper resistant sticker provided.  It is possible this might happen and the Ranger staff will not be unreasonable if it is obvious someone scraped off the number.


Q: What if someone steals my stand, will my number be replaced?


A:  The Corps of Engineers will not be responsible for stolen stands.  Leaving stands in the field when not in use is at the owner’s risk.  A replacement seasonal stand permit can be obtained through the project office by submitting a police report and paying the $30 administrative/service fee.


Q: Will I have to provide a general location of where I will place my stand?


A: No.


Q: Have you impounded any treestands?


A: Yes, we have removed and/or impounded over 100 portable and ladder stands since February 1, 2009 and have torn down many permanent stands.    


Q: How would I lose my privileges and for how long?


A: Hunters in violation of the policy may lose their privileges depending upon the circumstance.  Examples of items that would cause loss of privileges to utilize stands or blinds on Corps managed portions of Lake Shelbyville for the first offense include ORV use, screw-in steps, and excessive pruning   Hunters caught violating the 72 hour rule for roving stands will lose the privilege for the issued number for that stand or blind for the rest of the season.  Second offenses or serious offenses may cause loss of   privileges for the rest of the season and the following year.



Q: Where can I obtain a permit? 


A: Permits for a Seasonal stand or roving stands are available from the US Army Corps of Engineers main office in Shelbyville Monday – Friday from 0800 – 4:30 P.M.  Roving permits may be obtained from Kidd’s Archery and Buckstop Archery in Shelbyville.  If additional locations are secured, a list of available locations will be posted on our website

To view this as a PDF click here

This permit is not valid until a current permit number is place on it.  To obtain the number please take the permit to the US Army Corps of Engineers main office in Shelbyville Monday – Friday from 0800 – 4:30 P.M.

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

Lake Shelbyville offers a spectacular opportunity for dove hunters to harvest doves with their annual opening day hunt! Dove field locations are planted on a rotating basis, so every year boasts new & exciting hunting opportunities.

Applications generally become available in mid-July of every year. Download our dove hunt application form, maps & information - available annually starting in July of each year.


 Dove Field Photo

Dove Hunting Regulations

Waterfowl Hunting

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

Crops are planted in the spring of each year & the area is flooded closer to hunting season.

There are 5 hunting blinds in 3 units with varying levels of accessibility with hunting allowed permitted in two day blocks (Saturday - Sunday and Wednesday - Thursday) with 3 designated rest days (Monday, Tuesday and Friday). 

At 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2018 hunters may call (217) 774-3951 X 4 and reserve one blind OR an entire unit for a block of two days (see map)

A blind reservation is $30.00 and is good for two days. Reserving a unit reserves BOTH blinds in the unit for two days and is $60.00. All 5 blinds will accommodate up to 4 hunters. 

Note: This area is available BY PERMIT ONLY. Call Lake Shelbyville's Environmental Stewardship Department at 217-774-3951 X 4 for reservation details!


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.

2019 Deer Hunt Application - Deadline March 31, 2019