FILE - Deer hunting

(The Center Square) – Deer hunters may soon have more firearm options in Illinois.

The Illinois legislature unanimously passed a measure permitting the use of centerfire single-shot rifles for deer hunting. The measure could soon be signed by the governor.

Master hunter, instructor and owner of New Salem Firearms Larry Dale of Petersburg told The Center Square that if Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 4386 as he is expected to do, Illinois hunters will be able to use lighter rifles with less recoil for deer hunting this fall.

It’s not a huge change for Illinois gun regulations, Dale said, but hunters are glad to see it.

“It’s the same ammunition that’s been legal to hunt deer with a pistol or revolver. It’s just been extended to single-shot, long guns,” Dale said.

Similar deer hunting regulations have been popular and successful in Michigan, he said.

“We are talking about cartridges that are as powerful as you need to cleanly harvest the animal without being excessively powerful so that there is accidental damage at distant targets that you can’t see,” Dale said.

Sportsmen and women in Illinois who are of smaller stature or people who are older or handicapped will now be able to shoot without feeling the amount of knockback or kickback from recoil.

“What you’ll feel is more like a shove than a tough punch,” Dale said.

As a 6-foot-4 guy with size 13 feet, Dale can take more recoil than his wife, who is 5-foot-4 and weighs 112 pounds, he said. He expects women will enjoy hunting with lighter rifles. Female hunters are one of the fastest growing segments of the hunting population, Dale said.

Youngsters who go hunting will also benefit from gentler recoil, Dale said. Kids tend to flinch from recoil, he said. Less recoil will make hunting safer for kids, he said.

Dale is in his mid-70s. He walks with a cane. His upper body strength is not what it used to be. To cut down on recoil, for the past few years he has been lugging a heavier rifle out to his deer stand.

“Because of my body, I’m avoiding the physical shock of recoil,” Dale said.

He’s traded his cane for a walker to get the weightier rifle to his deer stand.

“The calibers we are talking about will give me the opportunity to have a lighter weight gun without any increase in recoil,” he said.

As a gun dealer, Dale believes the new regulation will benefit sales.

“For gun people, there’s always room for another gun in the safe,” Dale said. “Hunters like equipment. Golfers are always changing clubs,” he said.

Ammunition and guns are being manufactured to specialize in this kind of deer hunting, he said.