There are now more opportunities for young people to hunt, thanks to a new bill signed into law by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker last month.
The new law opens the three-day youth hunting program up statewide; it also makes changes to how young hunters can obtain licenses. The new apprentice hunting permits can now be obtained for more than one year. Previously young hunters could only get one “apprentice” permit in their lifetime. Lawmakers in support of the bill say the new apprentice program means young people can spend more time learning in the field from experienced hunters.
Overall, hunting and fishing contributes $2.1 billion to Illinois’ economy.
The governor signed the bill in Sparta, holding the ceremony at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex.
“It ought to be easier for our youth to enjoy all the outdoor recreation our state has to offer. The Illinois hunting community asked for these changes, and we listened,” Pritzker said in a press release.
Local gun owner Mike Phillips said he likes the changes the bill introduced.
“The state should see a benefit from this in that younger hunters will travel … to seek other game,” Phillips said. “Young hunters will benefit in learning correct ways to handle and transport firearms safely.”
State Sen. Paul Schimpf agrees that the changes will make hunting a safer sport for young people and other hunters in the field. Schimpf sponsored the bill in his chamber of the Illinois state house.
“This program will help grow the next generation of hunters and give them an opportunity to develop important safety practices early,” Schimpf said in a press release. “Increasing the number of hunters will help maintain the state deer herd and generate economic activity across Illinois.”
Phillips agrees with that point.
“The less deer in my automobile's grill the better,” he said.
Currently, youth hunting licenses cost $7, with the added requirement of taking a safety course. Apprentice permits cost $7.50.