Hunting deer with a rifle is still illegal in Illinois, but that will change Jan. 1 when administrative rules issued by the Department of Natural Resources will go into effect that will allow deer hunting with centerfire, single-shot rifles of certain calibers.
Some confusion about the rules, when they go into effect and what was allowed has been circulating on social media, including the DNR’s Facebook page.
A bill, introduced as HB 4386 and sponsored by state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, paved the way for the new rules by allowing certain centerfire, single-shot rifles to be used for deer hunting. The bill was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on May 27.
A spokesman for Yednock said the bill was filed on behalf of his constituents, many who came to him to ask for the change that would allow using rifles to hunt deer.
The new law effectively eliminates Illinois as an island where rifle hunting for deer was illegal. It is legal to hunt deer with a rifle in the surrounding states of Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan and Arkansas.
"I think most of the discussion was about other states that allow rifle hunting," said state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville. "There were some concerns about it in the hunting community, but there were a lot of people who wanted to hunt with rifles. I was comfortable supporting it."
Davidsmeyer said another concern was the distance a bullet from a rifle can travel as opposed to a slug from a shotgun. According to hunter-ed.com, some centerfire bullets can travel several miles. Small shot can travel 200 to 350 yards, larger shot can travel more than 600 yards and slugs can travel more than 800 yards.
"In the legislative process, those who have not been around hunting lean on the advice of individuals who hunt as well as the DNR," Davidsmeyer said. "I had a number of constituents who wanted to hunt with rifles, and others who thought it took some of the difficulty of hunting away because rifles are more accurate. I heard talk from both sides."
Davidsmeyer said the state is trying to manage a deer population that is rather large and so he was less concerned with how deer are harvested.
Jayette Bolinski, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the law was not a department initiative, but rather one brought up by a member of the General Assembly, so they would not be able to speak about the changes while administrative rules are still being developed.
Larry Dale, owner of New Salem Firearms in Petersburg, told the news service The Center Square it’s not a huge change for Illinois gun regulations, but hunters are glad to see it. Similar deer hunting regulations have been popular and successful in Michigan, he said.
"It’s the same ammunition that’s been legal to hunt deer with a pistol or revolver. It’s just been extended to single-shot, long guns," Dale said.
The law previously allowed only handguns, shotguns, and muzzleloaders to be used while hunting deer. What will now be allowed includes centerfire rifles that fit the following description: Single-shot rifles that use a bottleneck centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger with a case length not exceeding one and two-fifths inches, or a straight-walled centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger.
The term centerfire means using a gun that will only fire a round that contains primer in the center of the cartridge and not on the rim of the cartridge. This rule eliminates .22-caliber long rifles and several other commonly used calibers for small-game hunting.
Single shot means a gun that is either manufactured or modified to hold only one round in the magazine and chamber combined, according to a fact sheet issued by the Department of Natural Resources.
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August 29, 2022 at 09:18AM