Monday September 12, 2017
Crossbows Now Part of the Illinois Archery Season
With a stroke of his pen Friday, Sept. 8, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure making the crossbow legal for regular archery hunting seasons in one of the country's biggest deer-hunting states.

Continued pressure from vocal anti-crossbow groups had successfully prevented the legalization of the crossbow in Illinois archery seasons for years, both legislatively and through regulations. However, the recent approval of the crossbow – and the problem-free implementation of its use – in other whitetail-rich states and popular hunting states like Wisconsin and Michigan, placed an additional impetus on state lawmakers to pass the law during the current session.

Introduced by Illinois Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus member Representative Jerry Costello in February, and endorsed by National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council President Rep. Brandon Phelps, House Bill 2893 passed both the House and the Senate with strong bipartisan support.

It was sent to the Governor for his signature on June 25.

Previously, individuals were permitted to use a crossbow for the taking of game only if they could prove a physical disability prevented them from being able to draw a traditional bow. In 2012, a new law permitted any hunter to use a crossbow for the second half of the archery season – from the second Monday following Thanksgiving through the end of the archery hunting seasons.

"HB 2893 passing the legislature was the accumulation of years of effort by a broad group of dedicated sportsmen and women," said Rep. Costello. "Allowing the full-inclusion of crossbows in Illinois is a crucial step in expanding hunting opportunities for the citizens of our state."

Despite some opposition, the measure was widely supported by sportsmen and deer hunting groups, including the National Rifle Association.

"By allowing all hunters to use a crossbow, HB 2893 will improve hunter retention in the Land of Lincoln by allowing a wider range of hunters to go afield during archery season and enjoy Illinois' rich hunting tradition," the NRA-ILA posted on its website Monday, Sept. 11.

With Friday's signing, Illinois joined more than 25 other states in allowing the full inclusion of crossbows during archery season. The Prairie State's 1.31 million hunters and anglers spend $2.24 billion annually on outdoor pursuits, helping support close to 32,000 jobs in the state.

Language of HB 2893, "Provides that any person may use a crossbow to take wildlife during the appropriate archery season. Effective immediately."

The 2017 Illinois archery deer season gets underway just more than two weeks from now, on Oct. 1.

- J.R. Absher, The Archery Wire
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