Crossbow Hunting in Illinois 2021

Crossbow Deer Hunting in Illinois Laws 2021Crossbow hunting laws in illinois

Crossbow whitetail hunting in Illinois is legal throughout the entire archery season regardless of age or physical ability. What affect will this have on the deer population and hunting in the state? We’ll touch on that in a moment but for now lets look at the pros and cons of Illinois crossbow hunting.

The sheer speed and power of the new generation of crossbows are in a category by themselves when compared to regular archery equipment. Pinpoint accuracy and not having to worry about pulling a bow back when a deer is in close are advantageous. Most crossbows use scopes as sights which helps to accommodate youth hunters. Crossbows combined with a adjustable tripod make a deadly accurate combination that brings consistent patterns at longer distances obtainable. You can have zero knowledge of regular archery equipment and be very proficient with little practice required with modern crossbows.

However, crossbows do have there “drawbacks”. Crossbows are generally heavier and more cumbersome to carry. (Not to mention most crossbow hard cases take up 1/2 a truck bed!) A hunter has to be mindful of the space around the crossbow when he’s pulling the trigger, being sure not to interfere with the bows limbs during the shot process. That means you can not use a tree or corner of a box blind to steady your aim as you can do with a gun. The reloading process is exactly that; a process. You can pretty much forget about getting another quick shot off, especially if your hunting out of a treestand!  At the end of each unsuccessful hunt you have to discharge the crossbow, which requires you to have a target and an extra regular tipped bolt. Or you can simply shoot a discharge bolt into the ground, as long as the ground isn’t frozen!

The Illinois Crossbow Effect?

the crossbow hunting effect to deer herdsOverall, the new crossbow hunting law will open up more hunting opportunities to those who are not familiar with regular archery hunting equipment and allow children that do not have the ability or the knowledge required to be sufficient with regular archery equipment. Some may argue that crossbow hunting will be detrimental to the overall deer herd.. But will it?

More hunting opportunities equal more deer harvested. I wouldn’t be surprised if the IDNR sees a bump in archery tag sales and overall archery harvest this year. Which might reduce the population marginally. But is that really a bad thing for Illinois? Deer numbers are strong and healthy in most areas of the state.

The boom of the trophy hunting era has put an emphasis on hunting big bucks. Guided hunts and leases have sky rocketed and most hunters that lease or hunt with an outfitter are only interested in harvesting a trophy buck. Which has led to an influx of does and overall deer. More deer equal lower overall habitat health, which equals bucks that are not reaching there full potential due to lack of prime browse and stressors that come with an overpopulated carrying capacity. Yes, some hunters will complain that they are seeing less deer and the IDNR needs to restrict hunting methods. Yet, in the long run if more does are harvested and the carrying capacity is below what it should be it will be in the best interest of all hunters and lead to a healthier deer herd, in turn helping bucks reach their full potential of antler development.

Illinois Crossbow Laws

Crossbow hunting in Illinois is legal without restrictions throughout the entire archery season. Previously, the law only allowed hunters to hunt with a crossbow if they were 62 and older or if the hunter obtained a doctors note due to physical disability. For more information on laws and regulations on crossbow hunting visit the IDNR website here>>

If your interested in crossbow hunting in Illinois, we have hunt dates available for this season! E-Mail me today for more information at To check out our regular deer hunting rates and dates for this upcoming season click here>>

Zach Jumps

Last Updated: August 31st, 2021

12 thoughts on “Crossbow Hunting in Illinois 2021

  1. Due to 2 shoulder surgeries I can no longer use my Mathews witch I just love shooting.or did.not a big fan of my crossbow but it does still allow me to get to the still picky about what to shoot.i let a lot walk by.amd I do have a handicap permit last 2 years.

  2. I personally am not in favor of crossbows. Really, I’m very against them being used in regular archery season. They are not the same as a regular bow. They are faster, have better sights, easier to shoot and become proficient with, and as the article said, no drawing in front of the game is necessary. That is often times the hardest part of getting a bow shot. I have nothing against older people pr people with certain handicaps using them, but a healthy person should be able to draw and shoot a regular bow…just my 2 cents…I also believe people should stand for the National Anthem, and that doesn’t happen anymore either…thanks for letting me voice my thoughts

  3. Archery season should be recurve and long bows and not all these wheeled bows. Compounds and xbows have ruined archery.

  4. When I was a kid every body used a long bow semi recurve, Laminated wood, we were sure of our shots, We were real silent hunters, we got clean shots with no cripple’s, These wheel bows have no business in archery,Plus they are dangerous,an don’t belong in hunting,The sport of archery hunting is supposed to be challenging,A real hunter,It is becoming a commercial sport,Us bow hunters should have a say in it, People over 62 or disabled ,that’s O.K.thats all, thank you, Ray Parker.

  5. Crossbows are the best !!!
    I have used it for years in Georgia and the kill rate is the same as using a firearm.
    I have taken many from 60 to 100 yards away
    Crossbow. I moved here three years ago and found out that you could only use during the second gun season. This year I was happy to hear it can be used all season long .I’m really happy to be able too make a kill shot with my crossbow.its crazy that rifles can’t be used but black powder can makes no sense.
    But one day maybe it can be used. One shot one kill that’s the way I was raised in the deep South of Georgia and yes Georgia has giant’s too.
    I pray that you all who are against the crossbow will change their minds because the crossbow has been round for Centuries Just like the longbow .

  6. I enjoyed hunting with a compound in Illinois archery season for many years..didn’t have the money for a real fancy rig…made that work though because it was the only choice for archery hunting . With limited small areas to hunt and an ever increasing tendacy to be denied access to retrieve deer I’d hit because of wealthy non- local people buying up ground for trophy hunting I was very pleased to see crossbow use allowed for all Illinois residents. Effectively it’s allowed me personally to drop deer nearly in their tracks..not harvesting more deer just loosing none to crossing no-go property bounds, typically a compound bow shot might very easily be a 100yd run out..on 30-40 acres that’s a deal killer if it crosses into Mr. money-pants land. I feel it’s the most humane way legally available, but that’s a whole different each his own.

  7. Im totally againstcrossbow hunting,i think it should have its own season. It shouldn’t be in the same class as archery. Iwill not allow it to be used on my property it is all about the kill. Not the challenge.i been using a compound bow for 38 years many archery kills,the kids today will not even learn how to shoot a BOW AND ARROW.

  8. I have recently purchased a crossbow and I love it.Too all of you that say they shouldn’t be allowed in the archery time frame I totally disagree because some people can not no matter how hard they try be efficient with a recurve or compound so as I see it if the hunter is efficient with a crossbow then there is nothing wrong with that I am a believer of ethical clean kills and that’s what we all as sportsman should strive for

  9. Get over it the crossbow are here to stay. Grab your recurve or long bow if it makes you feel more like a hunter. Me personally – the crossbow opens up hunting to more woman younger generation of hunter – because without license sales it will all be private land and no more public then what? Shoot your bows and be happy!!!we are all hunting!!! I’m the guy who worked all his life and served in the armed forces for 21 years if I want to buy a piece of land and manage it for trophies – I have that Right! But listening to those who think private land owners are the problem are just plain jealous. Change is hard but good!

  10. I started with a compound bow. Switched to a recurve and long bow later. Got into my late 50’s and developed shoulder issues – yup, age can become an issue! I still love to shoot bows when the shoulder allows but that’s getting fewer opportunities. Also sitting in a stand creates other issues as the muscles tighten up and you can’t do stretching exercises while sitting quietly. Bought a crossbow and while there are advantages, there are also drawbacks. Weight and positioning are totally different and, while your done draw the crossbow, the positioning and size make setting up more inconvenient. Balances out the silent draw. The crossbow allows me to be able to keep hunting which has been a big part of my life for almost 50 years I still practice with it and the shots still require knowing yardage for a clean quick kill. I hope all who decide to go afield with a crossbow know that a target is different than taking an animals life and practice accordingly

  11. Everyone is entitled to their opinions I myself enjoy the sport of deer hunting period no matter what choice of weapons are used legally. If you ain’t shooting a long bow or recurve during Archery season instead your using a more convenient bow with pulleys or a cross bow you are using nothing more than high powered Archery equipment.

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