Laws for Hunting Bobcats in Illinois

Are you thinking about hunting bobcats in Illinois? This article covers some of the fundamental laws you will need to know to get started. It also provides information such as seasons, harvest limits, and required permits for hunting bobcats in Illinois. It is not a legal document and is not intended to cover all hunting laws and regulations.

Laws for hunting bobcats in Illinois.
The laws for hunting bobcats in Illinois.

The bobcat hunting season in Illinois runs from 10 November to 15 February. It is closed 19-21 November and 2-5 December in counties open for firearm deer hunting. Open 24 hours a day. Bag limit 1, by permit only. Must possess a Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Permit BEFORE attempting to take a bobcat.

Purchase an Illinois hunting license here.

Check out the Illinois hunting seasons.

Related: First time hunting bobcats? Read this article on three tips to hunting bobcats.

You can legally hunt coyotes in Illinois, too! Read how to legally coyote hunt in Illinois here.

Click here to check the laws for hunting fox in Illinois.

General laws for hunting bobcats in Illinois.

Hunting hours. During the season, hunting of bobcats is allowed all day.

Predator callers. The applicable law states: “If you receive a Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Permit, you may harvest one bobcat by hunting, trapping or salvaging a road-kill during open seasons. Examples of legal methods of hunting include archery, predator calling, stalking, and treeing with dogs. The hunting season for bobcats is closed during firearm deer seasons.”

While electronic callers are expensive, mouth and hand callers are more affordable—if harder to use.

Read this article and watch the video to learn how to use a closed reed rabbit squealer.

Follow along as call manufacturer Brian Rush shows you three open reed calls you can learn and use today.

You can check the price of other callers (including electronic) on Predator call prices.

Decoys are legal. You can read about some highly effective but inexpensive ($20) coyotes decoys here.

Suppressors are illegal.

Hunting bobcats in Illinois at night.

Using lights and night vision, infrared, or thermal riflescopes. According to “Night vision goggles, thermal, and artificial light can be used for hunting in Illinois during legal night time hours for the following species of animals.

  • red fox
  • gray fox
  • bobcat
  • raccoons
  • opossums
  • coyote
  • striped skunk.”

Related: What is the best night vision scope for a new predator hunter?

Related: How does the ATN Thor 4 thermal riflescope perform in the field?

Related: Just getting started and want to hunt with a light? Here is the best color to use when hunting coyotes at night.

Reporting, tagging, and permits for hunting bobcats in Illinois.

Applying for a Permit: Hunters and trappers must possess a Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Permit before taking or attempting to harvest a bobcat. Bobcat permit applications are available online only between September 1 – 30. Applicants must submit a $5 non-refundable fee. Available permits will be allocated during a lottery and mailed to successful applicants.

Limit: Successful applicants may harvest one bobcat by hunting or trapping during the season. They can also fill their permit by salvaging a road-kill (during open seasons).

Bobcat Registration Permit: If you harvest a bobcat, you must purchase a $5 bobcat registration permit online only within 48 hours. The Department will mail you a federal CITES tag within 2-3 weeks. 

Bobcat Tagging Requirement: A federal CITES tag must be permanently affixed to each bobcat pelt before it is exported from the United States or transferred to a fur buyer, taxidermist, fur tanner, or garment manufacturer. 

Statewide vs IDNR firearm regulations for hunting bobcats in Illinois.

  • Statewide regulations (excludes IDNR sites)
    • Centerfire or rimfire rifle of any caliber (single shot through semi-automatic, no magazine/capacity restrictions). Hunters are responsible for the projectiles they fire. Follow the rules of Hunter Safety – be sure of your target and what is beyond.
    • Shotgun of gauge 10 or greater (e.g., 12 gauge), slugs allowed.
    • Single shot through semi-automatic handgun of any caliber.
    • Archery (see Deer info for equipment specifications).

  • IDNR site restrictions
    • Only .22 caliber or smaller rimfire firearms allowed from sunset to sunrise unless otherwise stated in site-specific regulations.
    • Slugs are not allowed.
    • Cannot use or possess any tree climbing or cutting device (e.g., axe or saw) when hunting furbearers.
    • Some IDNR sites require an annual Hound Running Area Permit. Contact the IDNR Springfield Office to apply for a permit.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

Recent Posts