In Illinois, successful deer hunters are awarded a round pin for each deer they harvest, whether with a firearm or bow. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources began this tradition in 1978, creating a new design each year for firearm pins while archery pins are always green. Both versions have the year and IDNR deer hunting logo.
While it might seem insignificant, these pins are a small part of the Illinois deer hunting culture. For many hunters, the coveted pins symbolize a successful season and are worn on hats or clothing with honor.
When the IDNR required deer to be physically checked in at designated check stations in each county, hunters were provided their harvest pin at that time. The pins were actually a small incentive for hunters to check in their deer. When the check-in process changed from physical locations to an online and phone-in system, the IDNR found another way to distribute the pins. Today, they are available at most vendor businesses that are authorized IDNR license agents. Basically, the place you buy your hunting license is the same place that should provide your harvest pin.
While I’ve seen pins displayed in workshops, on hats, on clothing, and in shoeboxes, one of the most creative and effective ways to display the collection is on a wooden plaque available through Custom Outdoor Advantage. Hunters can order a variety of styles and options online at CustomOutdoorAdvantage.com. I’ve bought several plaques that have drill-pressed holes for the pins, and include a plexiglass cover to protect them. They also have pins available from past years for those hunters that have lost a few of them over the years. Successful non-resident deer hunters are also entitled to pins. Be sure to get yours.