Less than two decades ago, deer hunters in Illinois could experience another unique part of the deer hunting culture - a trip to the check station to register their harvest. Nowadays, hunters can simply phone in or log on to register their deer harvest. But this season, deer hunters in select Northern Illinois counties are required to check their deer in at designated check stations during the upcoming second firearm deer season. This is implemented in counties where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected as a way to continue to check for the spread of the disease.
A Lost Part of Deer Hunting Culture
Before the IDNR implemented a "phone-in" check system, all Illinois hunters were once required to physically take their deer to stations to be "checked" by biologists providing a record as well as important data to be used in determining county and state quotas. Each county in Illinois had a local business or park office that served as the official check station for the Illinois Department on Conservation (before they changed the name of the agency). But for hunter convenience and to streamline the deer harvest check-in process, the IDNR replaced the "check stations" with a system where hunters could report their harvest by phone or online through the IDNR website. The check station was part of the deer hunting culture. It was not only a place to legally record your harvest with the state, but it was a place where hunters could show off their deer, tell stories, enjoy comaraderie among hunters, and gain information about the deer activity. Although some thought of it as an inconvenience, I remember those days well and miss that part of the deer hunting experience.
But the check station is back, but only as a means to gather info on CWD. In northern Illinois counties where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in deer, hunters are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season by taking them to a check station (listed below) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Biologists will be present to take CWD samples for testing at the time of registration. Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate. Here are the counties and locations where hunters are required to check-in their deer at check stations are:
Boone: Boone Co. Fairgrounds, 1/2 mi. north of Rt. 76 and Business Rt. 20, Belvidere
DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona
Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park, 401 Ottawa Street, Morris
Jo Daviess: Elizabeth Community Building, 210 N. West St., Elizabeth, IL, 1/2 mi. west of business district on Hwy. 20, next to the Highland C.C. Elizabeth campus
Kane: Use DeKalb or Boone check station
Kendall: Use DeKalb, LaSalle, or Grundy check station
LaSalle: Buffalo Rock State Park, 3 mi. west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road
McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park McHenry Dam Day Use Area, east of McHenry on River Rd., 2.2 mi. south of Rt. 120
Ogle: Castle Rock State Park, Rt. 2, 3 mi. south of Oregon, IL
Stephenson: County Fairgrounds, 1 mi. east of Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Rd., Freeport
Will: Des Plaines Game Propagation Center, east of I‐55 at 30550 S. Boathouse Road, Wilmington
Winnebago: Rock Cut State Park, 6425 Hart Rd., Loves Park, 0.9 mi. east of N. Perryville Rd. on Hart Rd.
All hunters in other counties are required to check their deer in by 10 pm the day it was killed either online or by phone.
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