Illinois was one of the first states to enact an apprentice hunting program in 2006. Although still somewhat restrictive, the state continued to pass legislation to improve access for apprentice hunters. On August 23, Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 3623 removing the final restrictions from Illinois’ apprentice hunting law. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nathan D. Reitz, allows adults to purchase apprentice hunting licenses for multiple years. Research has demonstrated that people are more likely to continue hunting if they have the chance to hunt as an apprentice for multiple years.
The campaigns to enact apprentice hunting legislation, including House Bill 3623, have been supported by Families Afield, an initiative led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. This coalition, which seeks to eliminate barriers to hunting, has successfully championed mentored or apprentice hunting laws in 41 states since the Families Afield program was launched in 2005, which has resulted in more than 2.23 million apprentice licenses sold. The coalition worked with the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources to pass the bill. The groups were able to pass four apprentice hunting license bills since 2006, each one removing more restrictions.
“House Bill 3623 is the final chapter to the success story on apprentice hunting in Illinois,” said Luke Houghton, associate director of state services for Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Illinois is now a state that is doing everything it can to encourage people of any age to try hunting. We thank Gov. Pritzker for his signature, and Rep. Reitz, Rep. Costello and Sen. Schimpf for authoring and sponsoring the bill.”
“HB 3623 will go a long way in recruiting new hunters by giving people more opportunities to try hunting under the guidance of an experienced mentor,” said Scotty Bryant President of the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources. “IFOR has enjoyed partnering with the Sportsmen’s Alliance to champion such an important bill that helps boost hunting participation in the state.”
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.