April 15, 2024

Liberty and Turkeys for All: Illinois Bills Would Expand Opportunities for Youth Hunters

Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why It Matters: Allowing the use of small-bore shotguns such as the .410-bore and 28 gauge to take turkeys expands the hunting opportunities available to youth, smaller-framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters. As these smaller shotguns are entirely effective at ethically harvesting turkeys, allowing their use may very well create new lifelong turkey-chasers, which is critical to the continued enjoyment of our time-honored traditions.


  • If enacted, companion bills IL HB 4237 and SB 2767 would allow .410-bore and 28 gauge shotguns to be used during future turkey seasons.
  • These small-bore shotguns are friendly to youth or new hunters, given their light weight and reduced recoil.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to support this and similar legislation that expands opportunities for hunters to pass on our time-honored traditions to future generations.

With spring turkeys strutting into the sights of hunters across the country, legislation currently moving in Illinois seeks to expand the shotguns options that hunters may use to take them in future seasons. House Bill 4237 and its companion, Senate Bill 2767, would allow hunters in the Prairie State to take the iconic American bird with .410-bore and 28 gauge shotguns. Sponsored by a litany of Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus members, including chief authors Representative Harry Benton and Senator Patrick Joyce, this bill offers improved access to turkey hunting by allowing youth, smaller-framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters to use smaller, yet nonetheless equally effective thanks to advancements in shotshell technologies, shotguns while afield.

The pair of bills each cleared their first legislative hurdles by unanimously passing through their respective Committees, where CSF formally expressed support, and last Friday, the Senate version passed unanimously out of its chamber. CSF was also involved in pre-session discussions with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and partners in support of expanding the legality of sub-gauge shotguns during turkey season. Given their light weight and reduced recoil, smaller shotguns are attractive to new hunters that may still be getting comfortable in the woods. It is imperative that hunting opportunities for youth and other newcomers that may be interested in joining in our time-honored traditions are bolstered in an effort to combat declining trends in hunting participation.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to support this legislation and others like it that seek to expand hunting access for sportsmen and women, as well as prospective sportsmen and women, so we may continue to enjoy our time-honored outdoor traditions while safeguarding the ability to pass those traditions onto future generations.

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