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Horseshoe Lake - Alexander County

2020-2021 Season


NAME: Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area


2020 Waterfowl Season Updates:

  • Each morning hunters will park in the corresponding position number (1-15) on their permit. 
  • Hunters will remain in their vehicles at all times. 
  • Once the draw begins, hunters will pull up to the selection area as directed by staff and select a blind off the board (the hunters will have 18 blinds to select from). 
  • The hunter will receive a copy of the rules and regulations, site map, and blind specific map and they will head to their blind. 
  • Hunting ends at 12:00 and the gates will be closed at 12:30.
  • All hunters must complete harvest report cards at the end of each day's hunt. 
  • Only one vehicle allowed per permit holder.



Total Acres: 11, 692  Water Acres: 2,400    Huntable Acres: 4,190

Timber Acres: 4,995    Open, Cultivated, or Fallow Land Acres: 3,250

This area is located in the Lower Mississippi River Bottomlands Division of lllinois. The topography is flat with shallow sloughs. Horseshoe Lake, noted for its large stands of bald cypress, tupelo gum, and swamp cottonwood, is reminiscent of the deep south. This 2,400 acre body of water has a maximum depth of six feet.

This area is managed primarily for waterfowl. Many species of waterfowl stop here during the annual spring and fall migrations. White-tailed deer, bald eagles, and many other forms of wildlife are commonly observed by visitors to the area. A portion of the Public Hunting Area is managed primarily for waterfowl hunting. The Controlled Waterfowl Hunting area is operated on a permit basis with $10 permits being issued from the Springfield office upon application by interested hunters. Blinds will be assigned by a daily drawing and hunters will be transported to the blinds via trucks. A total of 20 blinds can accommodate 40 hunters each day. Check with the Area Headquarters or the local Conservation Police Officer for seasons, bag limits, etc.


Fishing (six launching ramps); Camping (electricity , water, pit toilets, shower building); Picnicking (four areas; one has playground)


  1. All hunters must SIGN IN and OUT and report harvest each day at the registration boxes before leaving the site.
  2. Archery deer hunting is allowed on the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area from October 1 to October 31st.
  3. Dove hunting is allowed on the Public Hunting Area (steel shot, size 6 or smaller only). Sept 1 - 15, the shooting hours are noon - 5 p.m. Sept. 6 - 30th, shooting hours are sunrise - sunset.
  4. Squirrel hunting is allowed during the statewide season in the Public Hunting Area and from Aug. 1-Oct. 31. All squirrel hunting is by .22 rifle or shotguns using non-toxic shot.
  5. Trolling motors are permitted year-round; outboards (10 hp limit) may be used from March 1-Oct. 15.
  6. With the exception of the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area, firearm and muzzleloader deer hunting is allowed during the statewide season in the Public Hunting Area.
  7. 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.
  8. Portable stands only for deer hunting. No permanent stands, screw-in steps or other devices that pierce the bark of trees. Treestands must be legibly marked with the owners name, address, and telephone number when left unattended. Treestands may be left unattended only from Sept. 15 through January 31. Only one treestand per hunter.
  9. Firearm deer hunting is only permitted on the Refuge area the third Friday and Saturday in October.  Firearm deer hunters must apply online for a site specific special hunt permit which is available from the statewide lottery. 
  10. Waterfowl hunting is allowed in other portions of the Public Hunting Area (Poor Farm, Section 11, Gentle Farm, Triangle Woods, Big Fill Bottoms, Sink's Tract) Wednesday through Sunday (No waterfowl hunting is allowed on Mondays and Tuesdays). Waterfowl hours are from legal opening hours to 1 p.m. in the Public Hunting Area.  After duck season, all goose hunters must abide by a shell limit of 5 shells per Canada goose allowed in the daily bag. 
  11. Night hunting is prohibited in the Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area.
  12. This area is closed to goose hunting during any September goose season.
  13. Hunters with permit reservations are required to check in at the check station between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. Permits are void after 5:00 a.m.
  14. The Controlled Waterfowl Hunting Area is not open to any goose hunting seasons that occur after the regular Canada goose hunting season. 
  15. Youth Waterfowl - one permit per person shall be issued for the hunt on December 28th.  Hunting hours are from legal opening until 12:00 noon.  Each  youth shall not possess more than 25 shot shells.
  16. Check at the Area Headquarters for additional regulations.

For further information, contact the Site Superintendent, Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area, P.O. Box 81, Olive Branch, IL 62969, Phone (618) 776-5689.​​​​

Equal opportunity to participate in programs of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and those funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies is available to all individuals regardless of race, sex, national origin, disability, age, religion, or other non-merit factors. If you believe you have been discriminated against, contact the funding source’s civil rights office and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, IDNR, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702; (217)785-0067; TTY (217)782-9175.