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Crossbow Hunting Allowed in Illinois Under New Law

(Kansas Tourism / Flickr)(Kansas Tourism / Flickr)

Crossbows can be used to hunt deer and turkey in Illinois thanks to a new state law that was signed last week.

On Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that amends the Illinois Wildlife Code to repeal restrictions on the use of crossbows during archery hunting seasons. State law previously allowed crossbows for archery hunting only by those ages 62 and older, and by people with disabilities who qualified for a crossbow permit, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The previous law also allowed certain youth hunters to use crossbows.

The legislation was introduced by state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton.

“Crossbows are effective, precise and humane weapons for taking game that sportsmen should have the option to use,” Costello said in a press release earlier this year. “I am proud to be an advocate for sportsmen in Southern Illinois and to fight for laws that advance the sport. Responsible hunters should be able to use the most effective tools, and I will continue to work in support of sportsmen and Second Amendment rights for our area.”

Costello’s bill passed 76-29 in the House and 51-3 in the Senate.

“Restrictions on crossbow use are burdensome to hunters who may prefer to use something other than a firearm,” said state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, in a press release. “Expanding crossbow hunting opportunities will allow more people to enjoy hunting, as well as offer current sportsmen another facet of archery hunting. It’s important that we preserve our state’s hunting traditions and have legal protections for law-abiding hunters to practice their Second Amendment rights.”

Animal welfare organizations say many animals hunted with crossbows suffer prolonged, painful deaths. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is currently part of a lawsuit aimed at stopping a publicly funded archery deer hunting program in Maryland.

“Using high-powered crossbows to shoot steel arrows through these animals’ flesh is particularly cruel, as many deer escape and slowly bleed to death from their wounds,” said PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr in a press release about the case.

Deer and turkey archery hunting season runs Oct. 1 to Jan. 14. To hunt with a crossbow, hunters must obtain an archery turkey or deer permit through IDNR. 

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp | (773) 509-5623

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