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Small Talk


Opening More Land to the Outdoors

by Don Bekeleski

The hardest part about taking a youngster hunting is finding a place to hunt! There are sites operated by the Illinois DNR, but sometimes they fill up so very fast that permits are not available anymore. You see there are a lot of people in the same situation, which makes the state sites get flooded with hundreds of requests for pheasant permits.

Some grant money has been given to the state to help open more private land. Information about the program is here:

It is called IRAPóIllinois Recreational Access Program.

The whole idea is to have landowners get paid to open their land for all types of outdoor recreation. This includes deer, turkey, waterfowl, non- motorized boat entry and outdoor photography and more in 68 counties in Illinois.  I know a lot of people have given up trying to find a place, because a lot of times when you ask the landowner, the reply is usually no.  I believe the biggest fear of the landowner is a lawsuit for you hurting yourself on his land. I couldnít specifically find it, but Iím pretty sure that cannot happen under this program and he is protected. That relieves the pressure on the landowner tremendously.

If we donít start to get our children involved in the outdoors, Iím sure they will find many indoor activities you would not want them involved in.   Most everyone that I have taught to hunt & shoot as a child stayed pretty straight, because his or her interest lies in the outdoor recreation and somehow the outdoors sports of fishing & hunting tend to keep a youngster involved in good things!

Next time you are at the range or a hunting area, look around and see how many non-gray haired people you see. Somehow if the youth donít get involved early in life, the street corner seems to be the favorite spot to be.  This program could open many opportunities for Illinois citizens.
Once the landowners see how it operates they too will have other neighbors jump in. You canít plant corn in the woods, but if you get paid for utilizing those woods for recreation, it could help with the bills around the farm.

So if you know some landowners in your area and it is in one of the counties eligible, maybe you should inform him of the program. The person in charge of this is at the link below:

For more information, contact Tammy Miller at or call 217-524-1266.

Itís all up to we established hunters and anglers to help this program work while helping steer our youth in the right direction. It also opens the door for many adults who just donít have that land available to really enjoy our God given gift of beautiful and serene nature and wildlife!

This article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the official position of the ISRA.

Comments to Don can be sent to Smalltalk Feedback.


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