Deer Herd Management

White-tailed deer are an important part of Macon County’s natural areas. Like many native species, they are beautiful and have a place in the ecosystem. But in many of our high quality conservation areas their numbers are so high that habitats are becoming unbalanced.

Deer are large plant eaters and consume a great number of plants. As a result, their high numbers are reducing native plant and animal populations, including endangered species. Additionally, human activity eliminated natural predators of deer, such as mountain lions and wolves in the early days of the county’s settlement. There is little hope of returning those predators. In their absence, deer populations grow unchecked.

To maintain a healthy balance between the deer population and other species, the Conservation District initiated a limited archery hunting program. Over-harvesting is avoided by monitoring deer habitat and numbers.

Can’t we let nature take its course? The unfortunate reality is we may never be able to “let nature take its course.” The high reproductive capability of deer (each doe can have two fawns), lack of natural predators, and limited suitable habitat mean deer numbers can become unmanageable to a point of jeopardizing themselves and the communities they inhabit. Read more about why and how we manage deer herds.

The Conservation District’s archery deer hunting program generally starts mid-October and runs until mid-December. For more information, contact us at 217-423-7708.

2023 Deer Herd Management Program

The 2023 Archery Deer Herd Management Program at the Macon County Conservation District is a limited archery hunting program to assist with management of the deer herd. For complete information on this program, download the 2023 Hunter Facts & Rules.

Download an application from the document links below or pick up a copy at Rock Springs Nature Center. Completed applications must be returned by Friday, September 15, 2023. Applicants are encouraged to email in their completed applications to [email protected]. A lottery drawing of all applicants will be held at Rock Springs Nature Center on Friday, September 22, 2023 at 3:00pm to determine program participants. Hunters need not be present to be included in the drawing.

The Macon County Conservation District will provide limited access to two blinds for hunters with disabilities. The blinds are located at Rock Springs Conservation Area and Sand Creek Conservation Area. Please indicate on the application if special accommodations are needed. For details, contact us at [email protected] or 217-423-7708.

Hunters will be allowed to harvest coyotes and 1 bearded turkey while participating in the Deer Herd Management Program. Turkeys can be harvested at Fort Daniel, Sand Creek, and Rock Springs. Friends Creek will not be open to turkey hunting in 2023.

Any child under the age of 18 will be allowed to hunt in the program during their parent’s/guardian’s hunting period. The child and parent/guardian must remain within eyesight of each other while hunting. The child will be required to purchase a MCCD Hunting Permit. All other rules apply.

Conservation Areas included in the Deer Herd Management Program are: Rock Springs, Sand Creek, Friends Creek, and Fort Daniel. The program runs from November 3 through December 28, 2023, except for November 17-19, 30, and December 1-3. Permits will be available for purchase after the lottery drawing. Each permit allows you to harvest two deer. Hunters are limited to two permits per year. Hunters must harvest an antlerless deer prior to harvesting a buck. Hunters are limited to one buck per year.

Deer permits will be available for purchase online, after the lottery drawing. This applies to most deer permits. Here’s how this works:

  1. Out of state hunters must purchase their first permit through the business office: 3939 Nearing Lane, Decatur, IL, Monday through Friday, between 9am and 4pm. After that, out of state hunters may purchase their second permit online.
  2. Disabled Hunters must purchase their permits through us at 217-423-7708.
  3. All other hunters may purchase all of their permits online. Permits and stand tags will then be mailed to you. Please allow 5 business days to receive your permit.
  4. When you go to purchase a permit online, you must have a household login account. If you do not already have a household account with our online registration system: create an account, and we will approve it (usually within 24 hours). Once approved, you may login and purchase your permits. If you need assistance, call 217-423-7708, Monday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm.
  5. Permits can be sold in person at Rock Springs Nature Center on a case-by-case basis.

Permit Fees
Macon County residents: $30 for the first permit
Out of county residents: $60 for the first permit
Out of state residents: $110 for the first permit
Fee for second permit is $30 regardless of residency.

Documents for Download

2023 Deer Herd Management Application (Fillable PDF file can be submitted via email. The Adobe Acrobat Reader app is required to fill out PDF.)
2023 Hunter Facts & Rules
2023 Harvest Totals

Fort Daniel Hunt Map
Friends Creek Hunt Map
Rock Springs Hunt Map
Sand Creek Hunt Map

For more information call 217-423-7708.