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Gretchen
GRETCHEN
STEELE

Through the Lens

What in the World?

Thu, February 22, 2018

There’s been a flurry of new bills introduced recently in Springfield that relate to the outdoors and our DNR – some of which I honestly looked at thought “Are you serious?”.

Here’s a quick round up of a few the more notable head scratchers -  (clicking on the bill number will take you the full text of the bill)

HB 4231 - Blaze Pink Clothing
Seriously? Again? This didn’t really get anywhere when Rep. Costello introduced it a previous session. I understand all the arguments for it – but really, I’m not sure that allowing blaze pink is really going to do all that much for increasing female participation in hunting. There seem to be two distinct camps; the women who are deeply insulted that a legislator would think that’s what would entice them and the ones who think it’s great, wonderful, and now they will look even cuter in those hunting selfies.  While this isn’t damaging or world changing, I just think that we could do so much more to encourage new female hunters than this, and we could focus on more important issues within our IDNR and state than whether blaze pink is or is not a good idea.  However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that at least our legislators are looking at ways to increase hunter participation, recruitment and retention.

SB 2493 -WILDLIFE-DEER BAIT
This seriously produced a WTF moment for me that necessitated a phone call to one of my IDNR wildlife biologist friends. The burning question for this one is WHY??? Why do we need this??? We are a CWD positive state. We know that bait piles, mineral blocks, common feeding areas where deer densely concentrate and share saliva and other bodily fluids are a source of the spread. What makes this a good idea on any front? Were any of IDNR’s biologists consulted at all prior to the introduction of this bill? If we are actively trying control and keep our CWD spread and prevalence rate as low as possible – this sure seems like a giant step backwards in the fight.

HB 4714 - Deer Hunting - Air Guns
Again, a head shaker. I will freely admit I am not particularly knowledgeable about the big bore, big game air guns. I’ve been doing some research and while I’ve concluded that the lethality of some of these new designs is there – with the caveat like any weapon of choice the onus is on the user to become proficient, and to use it in ethical manner – do we really need to add this to the list of allowable weapons for deer hunting?  There’s no language in this that specifies anything other caliber. This could potentially confusing when it comes to the question, “do I need a FOID card for this or not?”  While FOID card laws do specify when one is needed for an air gun this bypasses that all together.
If the argument is that they will be just as lethal as a regular rifle – well then, why aren’t we adding rifles to the allowable list of weapons?  The bill uses this as the definition “In this Section, “air-powered gun” means any implement, designed as a gun that will expel a BB or pellet by spring, gas, or air charged from an external high compression power source.” The bill further lists the following as the reg change “a .45 caliber or larger air-powered gun “.  Once again, I am wondering the “why” behind this bill.

There are couple of bills related to youth hunting licenses and permits.

HB 5440 - WILDLIFE-YOUTH HUNTING
“Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that the fees for a youth resident and non-resident archery deer permit shall be the same. Provides that a resident or non-resident youth under age 18 (rather than only resident youth) may apply to the Department of Natural Resources for a Youth Hunting License and Youth Trapping License.”  I get that we are trying most anything we can do to entice new hunters and youth hunters, and this could be a way to provide some degree of reciprocity to neighboring states who don’t charge non-resident fees for youth hunters. Call me a crazy and paranoid old woman, but I can see the potential for abuse with this one.  Let’s see, I can get my child an inexpensive nonresident archery permit. We hunt together. I purchase the least expensive option for me as a nonresident. I use the kiddo’s to tag my deer. Yay me I have saved some cash! Don’t think that won’t happen?  I’d be willing to bet it will, and more often than we would anticipate.

HB 4783 and SB 2663 - Wildlife - Youth Hunt/Trap – Illinois
On the surface this looks fairly reasonable and pretty innocuous except for this small detail “Provides that if a youth has a valid certificate of competency for hunting or trapping approved by the Department of Natural Resources, he or she is exempt from supervision requirements” Although it is not clearly specified, one is led to believe that the “certificate of competency” referred to would be a hunter safety class.  Here’s my issue – there is no minimum age requirement, no type of hunting requirement, no specific weapons listed in the language. Indeed, there are some wonderful and thoughtful 10-year olds that could possibly be allowed to hunt unsupervised, but frankly I am not comfortable with that. We all know how young some kids have been when they successfully completed their hunter safety courses. Does that mean they are fully ready to be turned loose on their own? I doubt it. My previously life as pediatric primary care nurse taught me lots about how kids brains work, developmental levels, etc.  My general life experiences have taught me there’s a whole lot of 10, 12, even 14-year olds that should not be wandering around the woods with weapons unsupervised. They simply are not developmentally ready for that. They don’t have the necessary skills to handle the various situations that they may encounter. Should we consider adding a minimum age to hunt unsupervised? I think so. While many will argue they can best judge their child’s ability vs a blanket regulation by the government I still feel that to err on the side of safety would be best.

HB 5049 - Youth Deer Permits
“Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that deer hunting permits for youth hunters shall be open statewide and not limited to one specific county,” I really can’t complain about this – we want our youth hunters to be successful so that they stay interested and engaged. We want them to have every possible opportunity to be successful, and get rid of some of the barriers to that success; but then again, when you look at the other youth hunting related bills, well just exactly what kind of door are we opening here?

Yes, yes, Heartland friends I’m quite sure many of think I am overthinking some this, many of think I am just one giant crabby old cynical woman. Honestly – you are likely correct on both fronts! I’m genuinely interested in what the Heartland community thinks about these bills. Help educate me, help me understand why you may think I am overly critical or a worry wart. I’ll listen! Goodness, there even exists the possibility you might even change my mind about some of them.

I’ll address some of the other bills in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

 

Comments

Blaze Pink Clothing - If the decision to hunt comes down to the color of clothing for a person, I’d rather them stay at home.

Deer Bait - WTF is right.  Counter intuitive to combating CWD.

Airgun Deer Hunting - While were at it, add the sling bow and atlatl.  I think the amount of weapons allowed to kill a deer is already saturated.

Youth Non-Resident - Its a privilege to hunt.  Its even a greater privilege to hunt out of state.  Tag prices need to reflect that.

Youth Age - Yes, there should be a minimum age.

Youth Deer Permit - I’m with you G.  Doesn’t really bother me.  Archery permits are statewide and there are tens of thousands more permits sold this way compared to youth permits.  I do have to ask, what problem is this solving besides a select few that have the opportunity to hunt multiple counties?

Posted by buckbull on February 22

Pink or orange, I could care less as long as I can see you and you me.  Let the politicians have fun with this one.

Bait: Follow the dollar signs and the politicians behind it.

Airgun: Maybe an airgun only season - first week of October.

NR Youth:  If their going to cheat their going to cheat, throw the book at dad if he gets caught.

Min Age:  hell yes, my kids passed their safety class at 8 yrs old, for yours and their own safety - common sense here.

Open Youth permits:  ok with that

Posted by BIGPOND on February 22

Gretchen, some not all of these bills comes from an effort by the US congressional sportsmen’s caucus. I would say the legislation dealing with the youth issues would be their main focus, and anything that might give more people easier access to enjoy the outdoors. Some I agree with, but like you I have serious questions about certain particular parts of some of that legislation. Good group that supports the outdoorsmen/women, but a one size fits all approach does not always work, but its a good starting point. That’s why they make amendments. grin The baiting issue is out of left field for sure, and have no idea. I know many people always wonder why if baiting is Illegal, then why are stores allowed to sell products directly for that purpose ??  The truth is like a lot of things concerning our wildlife within this state, there is by far more going on than most people know, or care to know. Those that do care, well I think they would be shocked.

RTT

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 24

Notice a common denominator in all but one of these bills ???
Deer…
The reason a big percentage of all IDNR related bills involve deer is simple…. $$$$$$$$$$$

It has been this way for the last few years and our legislators AND our IDNR heads are to blame.
Our IDNR helps right all these bill, then they also choose to support, oppose or stay neutral on these bills.
They also love to say, they are neutral on many bills but they are supporting bill behind the seens and sometimes even defending bills in front of committees while still trying to claim IDNR has ‘no stance’....lol

Did you guys also notice that ALL these deer hunting bills will only bring in more deer hunters AND even more weapons to kill deer ???

Like I said before, I can’t remember the last deer hunting bill that our IDNR helped write, that would have actually limited deer hunting, in any way, in this state ?¿?¿?

Our IDNR is about all most anything, that will bring in more deerhunters, more $$$$$$$$, sell more tags & kill more deer in our state….

AGAIN…..PATHETIC. ....

 

Posted by Lynn on February 26

Thanks Gretchen….
For helping educate hunters about what effects them AND our game we hunt & fish !!!

Posted by Lynn on February 26

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and concerns! RTT I think you are dead on that some of these are directly related to increasing hunter participation and opportunities to recruit youth hunters. Let’s just not lose sight of the forest for the trees in our race to expand our R3 efforts smile

Posted by G on February 27

Thanks Gretchen!  Always enjoy your articles.  I am a Non-Resident Land owner and have been for 20 years.  I now have 3 children between the ages of 8 and 14.  I have really struggled with Youth hunting opportunities for my children especially when it comes to Archery.  Last year I finally bought my daughter a non-resident archery tag for several hundred dollars and she was able to get out 1 weekend due to sports, ect…  I threw that tag away and it really hurt, I told myself that was crazy and I wouldn’t do it again(probably will but was my thought at the time).  I just can’t justify spending over a $1000 to take my 3 children archery hunting a couple days a year on my own property, so I very happy to see the proposal for the Non-resident youth archery tag.  The likelihood of them getting a deer with archery equipment is slim but being able to spend a couple of extra weekends in the woods with me a year is awesome.

PS I am taking my 8 year old son to hunter safety class this weekend because non-residents are not eligible to buy a Youth hunting licenses in Illinois.  He was able to get a 1 time Apprentice license last year and went hunting 1 day in 2018(only day ever actually).  Now he has to take hunter education to go turkey hunting this spring in the youth season.  Moving forward I have to buy him a standard non-resident hunting license and I will buy him a youth turkey/deer permit.  I don’t mind taking him to hunter safety but his retention of this information at such a young age will be difficult.  It would be great if I could get him a youth hunting license and put off hunter education until he is old enough to actually understand and retain this information.  Both of my daughters also took hunter education at 8 years old so they could go hunting a couple of days a year in youth season.  The proposal to allow non-resident youth to buy a youth hunting license until they are 18 is awesome!

Posted by hunterjjj on March 01

Thank you HunterJJJ for your thoughtful reply and for providing us with a non resident parent’s perspective! I can understand how frustrating it must be for you - after all you do own property in the state, and do pay property taxes on said property.
Given your comments on the hunter safety course aspect - I am curious to see what you think about a minimum age for hunting unsupervised if a youth has passed a hunter safety class?
I think you raised a valid point - that being able to get a youth hunting license, and hunting supervised until a young person can really grasp everything in a hunter safety class can be a good thing.

Posted by G on March 02

Gretchen, I think this really depends on the youth, and their hunting experience.  My oldest is 14 and she has never hunted alone, she has been tagging along with me since she was 4, and she started hunting with me when she was 7.  She is very experienced now and I would let her go alone.  However, at this point I don’t think she is really comfortable hunting alone and enjoys myself or my father.

My 8 year old will have his hunter education card this weekend and there is no chance I would let him go hunting alone, much less touch a firearm without my supervision.  I don’t foresee him hunting alone until he is 13 or 14 either.

I am sure there are kids out there who have been walking out their back doors on their family farms for years and would be safe to hunt alone at 10 to 12 years old walking out the back door hunting squirrels behind the house.  I would say the majority of kids are not in the woods all that often due to sports and school activities and they probably shouldn’t be hunting alone until they are 14 to 16.

As a parent there is nothing I value more than my kids and I am never going to allow them to do anything that I feel is unsafe for them.  I guess I prefer having this decision in my own hands for my children.  I personally don’t need someone to tell me when my children should be allowed to hunt alone.  I promise you that they will not be hunting alone until I am 100% confident they are safe, ethical, and respectful to the animals they hunting.

I am not opposed to a minimum age limit, but I think supervised time in the field with an adult would be a better indicator as to when they are ready to hunt alone.   

Posted by hunterjjj on March 02

HunterJJJ - Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. I seem to be in the minority in most of the conversations I have had with folks about setting a minimum age for hunting unsupervised. I do agree that parents would likely be the best judge, but not sure that’s terribly realistic in today’s society. I don’t feel that setting it even at 10 or 12 would be all that burdensome, nor a barrier to youth hunting. I just think this is one case we need to err on the side of safety.

Posted by G on March 03

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