The Cache River (SNA) consists of 17,783 acres, is state owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are approximately 15,069 huntable acres with 24 hunter/parking accesses.
Location: Cache River State Natural Area lies roughly between IL Route 37 and U.S. Route 45 south of Vienna in Johnson county and extends into Pulaski and Massac Counties to IL Route 169 near Karnak.
Description: Cache River SNA is one of the most unique places in Illinois. The general area is characterized by great diversity, both in habitat types and wildlife. This is because Cach River SNA is at the intersection of many important features. The Cache River is one of only six places in the country where four or more physiograpic ecological units overlap. Also, two major rivers, the Ohio and Mississippi, join together just south of Cache River SNA. These intersections lead to an amazing place where unique plants and animals can thrive.
Cache River SNA is ever-growing and changing. In 2019, the Cache River SNA added nearly 3,000 acres, most of which is open to public hunting. Habitat types in the area include limited upland forest, mature and young bottomland hardwood forest, early successional tree plantings, cypress-tupelo swamps, and limited open areas and native warm season grasslands.
MOST PREVALENT GAME SPECIES: Deer, Dove, Furbearers, Rabbit, Squirrel, Wild Turkey, Waterfowl.
- Regulations for all huntable species will coincide with statewide season dates, hunting hours, and limits. Exceptions to the above are as follows:
- Trapping by permit only. No snares allowed. Only Egg Traps, D-P (Dog-Proof) traps, box traps, cage traps and traps of similar design may be used for land sets.
- Coyote and striped skunk seasons will coincide with the statewide fox season.
- Dove hunters are required to use non-toxic shot only (steel shot #6 or smaller; Bismuth or Tungsten #7-1/2 or smaller is allowed). Non-toxic shot is required for hunting waterfowl and migratory birds.
- No camping is permitted on these areas. Camping is available within a 20-mile radius at Ferne Clyffe State Park, Dixon Springs State Park, Fort Massac State Park and Shawnee National Forest campgrounds.
- All snakes are protected in these areas. Snakes are beneficial reptiles and part of the natural ecosystem.
- Pole and line fishing only.
- Hunting is on a first-come, first-served basis. No quotas or drawings, etc.
- Hunting is allowed only in Natural Areas. No hunting is allowed in restricted areas and in the three Nature Preserve Areas. You may not enter a Nature Preserve with a weapon in your possession and no weapons are allowed in the restricted area at the Cache River Wetland Center from Rt. 37, east to the Tunnel Hill State Trail, and 3/4 mile north of Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve to private property (see map above).
- Hunting areas can be accessed along the Tunnel Hill State Trail by hiking or biking. All weapons must be cased or bow and arrows locked while traveling along the trails right-of-way corridor. Tunnel Hill State Trail is a restricted area closed to hunting, it is unlawful to hunt, trap or discharge a gun or bow or arrow device along, upon or across the right-of-way of the trail.
- All motorized vehicles must remain on roads or in access areas. No ATV's (all terrain vehicles), bicycles, horses or mules are
permitted on State Natural Area. Person-pulled carts can be used to retrieve deer in remote areas.
- No permanent blinds or pits may be dug or constructed. All blinds must be portable or established with natural vegetation and
must be removed or dismantled at the end of each day's hunt. Cutting live vegetation on these areas is illegal.
- It is illegal to construct or use any tree stand built with nails, screws or any device which pierces or cuts the bark of the tree on
which it is installed. Tree stands for hunting deer must be legibly marked with the owner's name, address and telephone number
when left unattended. Tree stands may be left unattended only from September 15 to January 31. Only one tree stand per hunter,
per area/site is allowed.
- Hunters engaged in quail and rabbit hunting must wear a cap and upper outer garment containing at least 400 square inches of
solid and vivid blaze orange.
- All hunters are required to sign in and out at the hunter registration boxes provided at the hunter access areas, and are required to
report harvest by species each day before leaving the site. Please see map locations of parking lots and registration boxes.
- Any additional area regulations will be posted at the area's hunter parking lots or at the Cache River State Natural Area headquarters.
- Youth Waterfowl season is held the weekend preceding the South Zone duck opener - follow statewide regulations.
For additional information, contact Cache River State Natural Area, 930 Sunflower Lane, Belknap, IL 62908, phone (618)634-9678. For further information on hunting opportunities on other Cache River Wetlands joint venture property, contact Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge at (618) 634-2231.