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Crossbow bill passes House, Senate

Sat, June 02, 2012

Barring a veto from Gov. Quinn, which is not expected, crossbows will be legal for all hunters to use during the second half of Illinois’ archery deer season.

The final version of House Bill 4819 is a compromise of sorts, since earliest versions had stipulated crossbow use during the entire bow season.

The amended version that passed would allow everyone to use crossbows during the archery season beginning the Monday following the 2nd gun season through the end of the archery season. Instead of creating a separate defined season, this new language allows crossbows to be used concurrently during the last portion of the archery season.

Senate sponsor Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) authored the ammendment that would allow any hunter with an archery deer permit to use a crossbow from, “the second Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday through the last day of the archery deer hunting season (both inclusive) set annually by the Director.”

Under this new ammendment, crossbow hunters will not need to purchase a special permit during that part of the season, as some had predicted when word of a compromise first surfaced.

“We think it’s best to serve the public to just leave it as a bow choice,” said John Buhnerkempe, head of the Illinois wildlife division. “We’ve got enough complexity to deal with considering everything else involved with this.”

Reaching this point in the discussion has been an interesting lesson in the political process. After initially sailing through the Illinois House 109-0, House Bill 4819 moved on to the Senate, where Forby stepped up as sponsor.

As word of the bill surfaced, bowhunting groups organized vocal opposition. After some heated testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee, there was a brief period where it appeared bowhunting groups had scuttled the bill.

Then the bill gained a new life in committee, and Forby made it clear he was interested in reaching a compromise. Given that the Department of Natural Resources had already backed the bill, this created an interesting situation.

According to Kevin Chapman, the deal offered to bowhunting groups was to choose one of three options: 1. crossbows for the first half of bow season, 2. crossbows for the second half of bow season, 3. crossbows for all of bow season.

In the minds of bowhunting groups, settling on the latter half of the season seemed to be the obvious best choice of the three.

Meanwhile, DNR is scrambling to keep up with the legislation, since the bill requires changes to the wildlife code.

But Buhnerkempe said he did not think allowing crossbows in the last half of archery season would cause much of an increase in the overall deer harvest. For instance, he did not envision including crossbows as reason to consider dropping the late-winter antlerless-only seasons.

“If you look at the numbers, you’ll see hunting in general drops off after the first gun season,” Buhnerkempe said. “You’ll have some (crossbow hunters) but it won’t lead to drastic changes in hunter numbers. At least we don’t expect it will.”

And the current scope of legislation deals only with crossbow use during deer season. In other words, there is no language yet dealing with spring turkey hunting or any other season.



Posted by joshyb79 on June 02


Posted by deer1 on June 02

In my opinion…I think some bow hunters who hunt their own private land may just pick up a crossbow and use it the entire season.  I have no idea how the DNR will be able to communicate these changes in year #1???

Posted by GalenaBob on June 03

WHAT A MESS WE ARE IN NOW!........cant wait till the hoards of shotgunners that get bored and start picking up crossbows…...what a crock o’ s*#! sure we’ll hear a plethora of horror stories invovling idiots with crossbows… was fine the way it was…. i dont know maybe Im wrong….whatever….all i know is deep in my heart it doesnt sound or feel right considering Forbys pockets were probably padded in the process…..commonplace in Illinois politics…....and NO I dont think shotgunners are gonna b much a problem at all its just all the others that are gonna jump on the bandwagon simply because its “SWEET”.( and no that wasnt a shot at JoshB79 he just so happened to have the perfect wording i was looking for)LOL

Posted by CoonassL.a.B. on June 04

The move to allow cross-bow hunting was started in church by a group of older men who, seeing as they thought shot-gun hunting was unethical, wanted to be able to kill a deer humanely. This will not lead to “hordes of shot-gun hunters” switching to bow season. This will fill the freezers of some older gentlemen that deserve to be able to hunt and by god, hunt humanely.

Posted by tunacommander on June 04

Beef is still cheaper.

Posted by Walston on June 05

Not every IL archery group supported HB4819 or the compromises offered as previously stated.  Wildlife regulations allowed seniors aged 62 and older as well as those physically unable to draw an compound or traditional bow to seek a permit with the IDNR.  So there was already a means for these gentlemen to hunt “humanely” and “ethically.” Sad news for those who will take up the crossbow for sport is that the groups that judge trophy deer will not consider a deer taken with a crossbow. So if a crossbow hunter happens to take a record deer, don’t even measure the antlers because your deer will not be considered. Why?  National archery organizations and groups do not consider a crossbow as a bow ...smooth move legislators in defining a crossbow as a bow.

Posted by StikMan on June 05

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