Illinois became the 25th state in the country to allow crossbows in some manner for use in archery hunting seasons with the signing of House Bill 4819 by Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this month.
As originally written, HB 4819, which permitted the use of crossbows during archery-only deer seasons, sailed through the House by a vote of 109-0. By the time the measure moved to the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee, some state hunting groups launched an offensive against the bill, sending hundreds of e-mails to committee members in an effort to derail it.
After debate in committee, Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) offered a compromise amendment that eventually passed both houses allowing the use of crossbows during what is commonly known as the late archery deer season in Illinois, which follows the split deer firearms seasons that take place in late November and early December. As a result, the measure signed by Gov. Quinn on August 7 allows a crossbow to used by anyone following the second Monday after Thanksgiving (Dec. 3) through the end of the archery season in mid-January.
Crossbows remain legal during the full archery deer season for those age 62 and older and those with disabilities.