If you are planning to take your kids hunting this fall, NOW is the time to get them into Hunter Safety Education Classes. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources offers TWO ways for young hunters to get certified- through their traditional instructor-led 2-day classes, or through a combination of online classes and field day. Either are FREE but must be accompanied by an adult if they are 10 or younger. But classes are filling up fast. Parents can check available class schedules by County on the DNR website HERE.

Or you can look into the online classes HERE.

If you do not get your child enrolled in a class OR if you think they are not old enough to pass the class but old enough to hunt with you, there is a NEW OPTION: The State of Illinois recently passed a new law that enables hunters under the age of 17 to purchase an Illinois hunting license and participate in hunting seasons. The license is only valid if they are under the direct supervision of a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian that is age 21 or older and has a

Nothing beats hunting with kids. Get them off on the right footsteps through a certified hunter safety course.
Nothing beats hunting with kids. Get them off on the right footsteps through a certified hunter safety course.

valid hunting license. This new “Youth License” basically enables youth hunters that have not passed the hunter safety certification classes to legally hunt for small game, as well as deer and turkey.  A huge benefit is that this law now gives hunters the chance to introduce their kids to the sport and see if they like it before taking a hunter safety class.

Some people may argue that this could discourage kids from taking hunter safety classes. But, by no means is this new law a reason to NOT take hunter safety classes. This new law only covers youth hunters until they turn 17, at which point they will need to take and pass the hunter safety course in order to obtain a valid hunting license and continue to hunt. This also does NOT allow youth hunters to hunt by themselves.  If youngsters are ready to hunt on their own, for example sit in a deer blind by themselves, this license does NOT allow them to do that. In order to hunt unsupervised by an adult, youths must take and successfully pass the hunter safety course AND have a valid FOID card in order to carry the firearm.

So, in a nutshell, the biggest benefit of this new law is that youth hunters can now purchase a license if they can’t get registered and pass a hunter safety course in time for the hunting season. This may actually take some of the burden off of the DNR, given the high demand for the hunter safety classes.

Also note, this is different than the existing Apprentice License, which is only good for one time (one season). The new Youth License can be purchased yearly (until the youth turns 17).

The new Youth License fee is $7 and is for the license only and is valid for one year. Any stamps or permits would be additional.

The full law can be read HERE.

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