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Slingbow approved for bowfishing in flurry of legislative action

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Chief AJ had timely thoughts on the use of slingbows in Illinois.

‘‘I’m 75,’’ he said Tuesday. ‘‘Time is not on my side, so I am going to push for it.’’

Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1538, which allows bowfishing with slingbows for rough fish and is effective immediately. Originally, the bill allowed the use of slingbows for hunting, but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources asked that their use for hunting be pulled.

‘‘The glass is half-full now; we want to fill up,’’ said Chief AJ, who testified before the General Assembly on the viability of slingbows for hunting.

During a conference call with outdoors media Tuesday, IDNR director Marc Miller said staff had questions about the velocity being enough to ‘‘effectively and ethically take an animal.’’

Slingbows — basically a stronger slingshot adapted to shoot an arrow — are produced by the Central Illinois Tribal Council.

‘‘We proved to them many times and showed we pull over 40 pounds,’’ Chief AJ said. ‘‘I hunted in Alaska and killed a grizzly bear [June 27] to show them.’’

Chief AJ, who singlehandedly (two-handedly?) has popularized the slingbow, will be featured at the inaugural Ultimate Outdoor Show on Sept. 7-8 in Kankakee and hopes to allow hundreds to try it.

And he had an idea for the IDNR.

‘‘If they want to test it, we want to suggest that sportsmen test it for a half-season or a long weekend,’’ Chief AJ said.

Sounds reasonable to me.

† Then again, it sounds reasonable to me that the IDNR lift the July closure on perch fishing on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan for one year as a test. That isn’t going to happen next year, but Miller said the department is reaching out to other states to ‘‘collectively manage and open up opportunities’’ for sport fishermen.

I heard those promises in the 1990s, so forgive my skepticism.

† The $2 increase on vehicle registrations, dedicated to the Parks and Conservation Fund, has been building since March. Miller said half of what the IDNR anticipates being $20 million annually will go toward funding operation and maintenance and half will go toward capital improvements (roads, shower houses, roofs, etc.).

Miller noted there is a
$750 million backlog for such things at state parks.

‘‘This allows us to address the most urgent needs,’’ he said.

† Other outdoors bills signed by Quinn included SB 1620 (taking effect Jan. 1), which requires hunters to use all usable parts of a game animal. SB 1170 (Jan. 1) allows the IDNR to recoup some costs of investigating crimes related to game taken illegally in other states. SB 50 (immediate) allows veterans to take only the online portion of hunter-safety courses. House Bill 1651 (immediate) allows hunters to take fur-bearing mammals with a shotgun loaded with a deer slug. It’s aimed mainly at the taking of coyotes.

† The IDNR has been so tied up in hydraulic fracturing regulations that Conservation Congress, originally planned for next month, has been pushed back until at least the winter.

Places and faces

The Riverside Fishing Club will hold its fourth annual swap meet of fishing, hunting, boating and camping gear Thursday. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. at the La Grange American Legion. . . . Joe Nega, one of the brothers I dubbed the ‘‘Bad Water Boys’’ a decade ago, took first place Saturday on the co-angler side of the Walmart Bass Fishing League Michigan Division event on Lake St. Clair. He won $1,783.

Stray cast

Sox fans booing Alex Rodriguez on Monday sounded like grackles harassing a red-tailed hawk or do-gooders haranguing a red-handed cheat.

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