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No kidding around: Will Przybylski’s journey to changing the regulations on Illinois’ youth deer hunt

Will Przybylski had a real-life civics lesson in changing the regulations around youth deer hunting in Illinois.

Will Przybylski with a buck when younger. Provided photo
Will Przybylski with a buck when younger.

Will Przybylski aims to be an entrepreneur.

I tend to believe the Brother Rice senior will do it.

Case in point came more than than four years ago.

On Aug. 30, 2017, Will Przybylski sent a letter to Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) suggesting a change to Illinois’ youth deer hunting season.

In the letter, Przybylski recounted his journey to harvesting his first buck, a six-point in 2012. He was nine.

Then he got to the heart of the matter: switching the youth deer hunt, on the three-day Columbus Day weekend, from county-specific to statewide. For non-hunters, that would allow youth hunters to hunt anywhere in the state during the youth season, instead of being confined to a specific county by permit.

“I didn’t have to access to hunt in another county,” Przybylski said last month in a phone interview after school. “With the [county] permit, you can only hunt in one. I wanted to change that. I thought you should be able to hunt in various counties because it creates opportunities for youth hunters to see more deer. Sometimes I could see a deer in one county and not on another property. It helps out to be able to move around and be creative.”

His family regularly hunts Hancock and McDonough counties.

Will Przybylski in the field. Provided photo
Will Przybylski in the field.

The harvest in the youth season is statistically small, around 2 percent or less of the overall deer harvest in Illinois. In 2020-21, the preliminary overall harvest was 162,575 Deer with a youth harvest of 2,321.

In his letter, Przybylski aptly noted that “The future of hunting, fishing, camping and all outdoor activities are at risk without a strong youth participation and interest.”

That’s a topic he knows about.

He’s a good enough hunter to have harvested about 10 deer, enough that he said, “I’m losing track.” He also bass fishes for the Crusaders.

Przybylski’s concluding point was straightforward: “Making such a change would give other youth hunters, like my little brother, more opportunities to harvest deer.”

“I don’t know much about deer hunting, I am a fisherman casually,” Zalewski said in a phone interview last month. “But Will and his dad [Bill] clearly knew their stuff.

“This was unique because [Will] was a student and he had what I considered a reasonable gripe, so I agreed to help him and this worked out for the best,”

Bill came down and testified for the bill.

Public Act 101-0444 was signed on Aug. 23, 2019 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The key part was this: “The Department shall create a pilot program during the special 3-day, youth-only deer hunting season to allow for youth deer hunting permits that are valid statewide, excluding those counties or portions of counties closed to firearm deer hunting.”

The pilot program runs through January 1, 2023.

The nearly two-year process was a real-life civics lesson for Przybylski, who was playing hockey when the bill was signed.

He has been skating since he was three and played for the Hawks at the Darien Sportsplex. Now he’s a defenseman for Brother Rice at Oak Lawn Ice Arena.

“I am going to play in college or play in recreational stuff, if I can’t,” he said. “I will go as a walk-on. If not, I will still play.”

Life is full for Pryzbylski, who just became an Eagle Scout.

“It was a long process, but I was pretty exited when it got passed,” Przybylski said. “It was a relief.”

Will Przybylski’s letter to Rep. Michael Zalewski on changing the regulations for Illinois’ youth deer hunt. Provided photo
Will Przybylski’s letter to Rep. Michael Zalewski on changing the regulations for Illinois’ youth deer hunt.