Rifle hunting state changes bring some confusion

SPRINGFIELD — Hunting rifle deer remains illegal in Illinois, but that will change on Jan. 1 when administrative rules issued by the Department of Natural Resources go into effect that will allow deer hunting with certain centerfire single-shot rifles. calibers.

Some confusion about the rules, when they will 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 rifles to be used for deer hunting. The bill was signed by Governor JB Pritzker on May 27.

A Yednock spokesman said the bill was introduced on behalf of his constituents, many of whom came to him for the change that would allow rifles to be used for deer hunting.

The new law effectively removes Illinois as an island where rifle deer hunting was illegal. It is legal to hunt deer with a rifle in the neighboring 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. CD 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 felt comfortable supporting it.”

Davidsmeyer said another concern was the distance a bullet from a rifle can travel compared to a bullet 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 bullets can travel more than 800 yards.

“In the legislative process, those who haven’t been hunting rely on the advice of people who hunt just 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 out of hunting because rifles are more accurate. I heard conversations from both sides.”

Davidsmeyer said the state is trying to manage a deer population that is quite large, so he was less concerned with how the deer are harvested.

Jayette Bolinski, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the law was not a department initiative, but one introduced by a member of the General Assembly, so they would not be able to discuss the changes while the administrative rules are still in place. being developed.

Larry Dale, owner of New Salem Firearms in Petersburg, told The Center Square news service that it’s not a big 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 is the same ammunition that has been legal to hunt deer with a pistol or revolver. It has spread to single-shot long guns,” Dale said.

Previously, the law only allowed the use of pistols, shotguns, and muzzleloaders to hunt deer. What will now be allowed includes centerfire rifles that fit the following description: Single shot rifles that use a .30 caliber or larger bottleneck centerfire cartridge with a case length not to exceed one inch and two-fifths, or a straight-wall centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger.

The term center fire means using a gun that will only fire a primer-containing bullet into the center of the cartridge and not the rim of the cartridge. This rule eliminates .22 caliber long rifles and several other calibers commonly used for hunting small game.

Single shot means a weapon that is manufactured or modified to hold only one round in the combined magazine and chamber, according to a fact sheet issued by the Department of Natural Resources.