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  1. Default

    Little side note/rant: Last week in advance of going out to hunt a new public land location in Illinois, I called the office of the park and had to leave a message to have them call back. It was on Wednesday morning and I didn't get a call back by Thanksgiving, but I wasn't going out until Saturday and I figured I could try again on Friday. I wanted to ask about specifics in the check in/sign in process and I was hoping to gather a little intelligence about turkey movement if possible. I had spent a lot of time reading the available rules and regulations available on the state's Web site. But I always like to talk to someone on site in advance.

    Anyway, I called again on Friday and had to leave a message. I did not receive a call back, and I was nervous about going out without a full understanding of the check in process, but I had also hung my weekend plans on this hunt so I went out anyway. It turned out that there was no need to sign in anywhere and the hunt went fine enough as I shared above. And I was feeling pretty good about trying to go back out there in mid December.

    Cut to Tuesday morning. On my drive in to work I get a call from someone in the park office and so I ask him about the turkey hunting and he says, "Oh we don't offer fall turkey hunting in the park." This flabbergasted me. I am a very careful and cautious person and like I said I spent a lot of time reading the available literature posted on the state's public land hunting site. It clearly states that they offer turkey hunting there in the fall. So I told him that. And he said that it must be a mistake. I told him he should probably do what he could to correct that mistake, because they have an open invitation for people like me to go out there and hunt turkey and what happens if a conservation police officer stops someone who believes they have hunted legally... I also asked about another state property in the same area that is administrated by the same office and has fall archery turkey hunting listed. "Nope," he said. "Not allowed there either."

    We had a decent talk, both cordial, and he promised to note this discrepancy all the way up the line, but the State of Illinois being what it is and the DNR being so poorly staffed and organized he didn't promise much.

    Well, I couldn't let it lie, so I spent a little bit of time on the internet and sure enough the public hunting listing that shows the site specific rules and regs for that property (and the other one near there) had been updated with the current season dates. It wasn't a relic from years ago that was just hanging out there. So I kept digging and I found the Illinois DNR administrative code, where the specific rules and regs for everything that the DNR administrates from boat registration to extractive mining operations is listed in legalese. I found the section specific to turkey hunting and then the subsection specific to turkey hunting on state-owned or controlled land. And there it is in black and white: both of the properties listed as allowing fall archery turkey hunting...

    So I have saved a copy of that on my home computer and I am printing it out to keep with my tags and licenses just in case I have anyone contest the fact while I am out hunting. I feel like I am vindicated and I learned a lot about the relation between the pubic-facing documents like the web site and the hunter's digest and the regulations that back them up administratively.

    I believe that the person I was talking about was thinking I wanted to shotgun hunt for turkey, even though I stated very clearly on both of my messages as well as in our conversation that I was talking about archery turkey hunt, and also the fact that the fall shotgun turkey season in Illinois was over a month ago. And he is correct that fall shotgun turkey hunting is not available in either of the parks. But I still think that DNR staff should be aware of all regulations and they should be explainers/ambassadors to the public about what is and is not available or allowable.

    All in all, very disappointed at the moment, but proud of myself for doing the research and getting the right answer.

    OK, rant over.

  2. Default

    Historically, I get invited to do some waterfowl hunting on the last two weeks of the season, which would be this weekend and next. I haven't received the invitation yet but I am looking forward to getting out this weekend. We are going to have a few days of subfreezing temps that shuld lock up smaller ponds and might concentrate them on the stretch of river we usually hunt. I hope everyone else is out there filling tags.

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    Well, It's on. I have an appointment with some waterfowl tomorrow morning. If all goes well I will be posting pictures of a successful hunt soon.

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    Well, Saturday's Duck/goose hunt was productive, just not as productive as I had hoped.

    I was invited to hunt on a mostly suburban river that will probably lose hunting access in the next few years. This is the 4th or 5th year I have been to this spot and it is basically in the backyard of a $500K-$1M house next to a golf course across from an ag field that will probably start growing houses in the next 10 years.

    The river was up and had been up a little higher recently. You can see the little ice bells in this picture that formed as the river level went down.

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    The nice thing is that most of the little ponds in the nearby housing developments were frozen up so we felt like there would be a lot of birds on the open water of the river. We got out before the sun and threw out just a few decoys and sat back to wait for legal shooting light.

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    In the picture the geese and ducks you see are decoys. As we were getting closer to shooting light those decoys were doing their work and we had a few fly in and then shelter on the far side of the river. Then a few more and a few more. There were about 10 on the other side of the river and then this train of about 30 ducks came swimming up the shoreline right at our feet. It was unbelievable. At 5 minutes to legal shooting light we had about 40 ducks in the water, some of which I could have scooped up with a net.

    All of a sudden on my right (downriver) we hear a scolding sound of quacking and about 5 ducks fly off. More quacking more flying off. Then I see a busy little muskrat swimming up the line of mallards in front of me and he is literally scaring off all of the ducks. With one minute to legal shooting light we had 1 duck left... I took a shot at him, but he managed to get away due in large part to my poor shooting aided by my disbelief in what had just happened. It was very neat to see all of those ducks, but hard to swallow the fact that none of them ended up laying next to us...

    We had several pairs come zipping past us over the next several hours but due to mixed signals and my poor shooting we stayed at 0 ducks for the day. There were plenty of ducks and geese up in the air though and we spent a lot of time trying to call them in, but it just wasn't happening. We could see wave after wave of geese flying to our right and it looked like they were landing in the golf course, but none of them seemed interested in our little stretch of river.

    At one point, I got down into the river and hugging the bank I sneaked downriver to the edge of our hunting area to peek around the bed, just to see if anything had landed in the river and might come our way. I could see lots of activity around the bridge about 1/4 mile east of us, but nothing that was close. I was a little disappointed and ready t go back to my buddy and suggest we leave when a lone drake came zooming right along the water. I managed to get my gun on him and took him out of the sky, which is kind of amazing because I am not normally good at crossing shots.

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    That's my first anything that I have taken with that gun (Remington 870) that I bought last Spring. I took it out for Turkey season, but never got a shot.
    I sent that picture to my wife and she asked me how the duck got my gun. I had to confess that the duck and bunny were arguing and I got confused, a la Elmer Fudd.

    We stuck it out a little longer and then headed out. On my way back home I had to stop at the golf course to take a picture of all the unhuntable geese.

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    Could have gotten my limit with a 9 Iron...

  5. Default

    One more opportunity to get some ducks and geese tomorrow. We have had a little warm up and a lot of the smaller ponds might be open. There might not be as many birds on the river, but I love to be out so I'll take any opportunity that comes along.

  6. Default

    You get the chance...GO!Good luck,send us pics.

  7. Default

    Well I wrapped up my 2018 duck season with a single duck. We should have had more, but some bad shooting and missed communication foiled us again.

    On the positive side, I shot a goldeneye, which is a new one for me.

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    That was a neat little bird. There were a few others of the same species with him, He flew right at us but the rest flew up and it looked like they were going away and then swooped over to us surprising us and we shot poorly...

    I might get out for some late season goose hunting after the holidays and I have an invitation to take my bow out for some deer/turkey where I got my buck earlier in the season. I just need to figure out how to fit it all in and keep my wife happy. Wish me luck.

  8. Default

    Well, I am headed out Sunday back to the place I got my buck in November. I have a few tags left in my pocket and I am hoping that maybe I'll see some turkeys too. It is hard to find the time to get out, but I know that if I don't go out half my mind will be wondering what I would have seen if I had gone out. This might be one of the last two times I can get out this season. Wish me luck.

  9. Default

    I got out to the same place I took my buck in November. It was an afternoon hunt on 12/23 and it started out promisingly as I saw 3 tom turkeys down by the creek about 500 yards away from where I would be sitting as I drove in.

    I also saw a pre-hunted doe about 5 yards away from my car. Note: I took these pictures on my way out so they are dark.
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    It was most likely a road kill, I was about 30 yard up hill from a highway and the doe didn't appear to be shot. It was frozen solid though so who knows how long it had been sitting there.

    I was feeling pretty good as I hiked into my stand. There was plenty of fresh sign and it was a sunny but cold day. I figured I would see some deer moving and I was desperately hoping those turkeys would wander up the hill and into my set up.

    I put out some calls and waited. There were a lot of squirrels and they were hopping in the leaves in just such a way that I kept thinking there was a deer approaching. But it was fun watching them so I couldn't complain about it.

    I did hear some turkeys and for a while they were returning my calls and it sounded like they were getting closer and closer. It was windy so it was hard to hear whether they were really closer or not. I eventually got down from my stand and headed to the north side of my stand of trees to see if I could spy them.

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    Sadly, they were about 200 yards away on the north side of the creek and headed for a different set of trees. It was pretty clear they were going to be roosting over there and not be turning back to meet up with me.

    On the plus side I know they are in the neighborhood and I am pretty sure that is the tom flock and not the hen and poult flock. I think I will have at least one more chance to get back out that way before the end of the season and I hope to make good use of that knowledge.

  10. Default

    Sounds like a good day all around,at the very least you got out and enjoyed yourself.

  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtclod Az. View Post
    Sounds like a good day all around,at the very least you got out and enjoyed yourself.
    It was a great day. On the plus side, I stopped at my parents house and had dinner with them.
    Every day hunting is a good day in my book.

  12. #62

    Default

    Looks like a pretty solid season.
    To what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

  13. Default

    I got my European mount back from the taxidermist on December 27th, so it as like I had a second Christmas. I was so excited. Now I just need to make a suitable wooden plaque to hang it with. I'll probably do a separate posting on that as it might be a month or so before I get to it.

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    I took a little bit of a closer look at the antlers and I had originally thought the brow tine were underdeveloped, but it looks like they were both broken off. It's neat to see that detail.

    I have two weekends left in my deer/turkey/goose season. I am hoping to get out on at least one of them. I almost went out on New Year's Eve but there was still so much family fun to be had. It was a great holiday season and now I need to get back outside soon.

  14. Default

    I went out for a morning hunt on Sunday January 6th, 2019. It started out with a pretty nice light show.

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    I wasn't expecting much in the way of deer movement as it was somewhat warm and sunny, I figured the deer would be bedded down in the sun and out of the wind. But not long after sunrise I had about a dozen does and fawns come out of the woods to the west of me (downwind) and work my way along the field edge. They were about 120 yards away and they seemed pretty content to keep coming. But once they got to about 70 yards they got kind of squirrelly and ended up ducking back into the woods and heading back west. I was worried that they caught my scent, but it appeared their attention was focused to the north.

    So I started scanning the woods to the north where they had been looking and here come 4 bucks. Slowly but surely headed my way. Two of them had 8 points they looked to be 3.5 year olds. Not huge, but nice looking. Bigger than the buck I took in November but not by a whole lot. There was a littler one that had a spike on one side and a fork on the other. I couldn't see the fourth one as he was the furthest back.

    They were also coming from down wind and I was expecting them to catch wise and head out, but the lead buck came out into the open at 20 yards and bedded down. Then the other one with 8 points came out and bedded right next to him. The Spiky/forky was still milling about in the brush, so I managed to grab my bow and stand at attention in case either of these two got up and presented me with a shot. I had a lot of time 10-20 minutes to look at the two with the 8 point racks and I decided I would be happy to take either one of them, but at the same time I couldn't help wondering what they would look like next year.

    I couldn't move much as the lead buck had bedded down facing me. But then he got up and walked broadside about 10 yards and I was thinking about drawing back, but the spiky/forky decided to walk straight over to him, looking in my direction the whole time. So I waited. He came over and turned broadside too and I was thinking about drawing back, but then the lead buck reached his head back and started licking and scratching his backside. He was twisted around so much that I was worried about the shot angle and his vitals, so I waited.

    Finally he straightened out and I was just about to draw when he plopped down on the ground again. And as he arranged himself his head came up and he was looking directly at me. So more waiting. Also I felt that the way he had his leg tucked up his vitals were going to be behind the shoulder blade. I didn't want to take a bad shot. And then the spiky forky bedded down and I realized I have 3 deer bedded within 20 years of me. I need to get a picture.

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    This was not an easy picture to take. I had my bow in my left hand and I had to get my phone out, unlock it with my gloves on and prop it up on my vest pocket and take the picture without dropping the phone to the ground, with only my right hand.

    But I got the picture and then I realized that like an idiot I didn't put my mittens on over my gloves and I didn't put little hand heaters into my gloves. My poor left hand is frozen and the muscles in my shoulder are screaming at this point. I have been standing there like a post for about 30 minutes and I needed some relief but that lead buck is looking right at me.

    I tried to move my right hand down to grab the string stabilizer on my bow to take some of the weight off my left arm, and the bow wobbled. That was enough for the lead buck to get on his feet and walk straight away from me. spiky/forky followed suit. The bedded buck on the right in that photo stayed bedded for a bit but when he got up he headed away from me, no shot. They did hang around out of bowshot for quite a while and I got a look at the 4th buck. He was also a spiky/forky, but he was an older deer. 3.5-4.5 years old. Must have been in the same gene line as the little one.

  15. Default

    I was a little bummed that I didn't connect, but I stand by the thought that either of those two bucks will be nicer looking next year.

    Also, I was really hoping for an encounter with turkeys, which I had been hearing to my north. Not long after the bucks left I got down from my stand and did a little moving around. A red-tailed hawk started riding thermals over the north field and the turkeys wen silent for a while.

    But I found some neat stuff, like these fungi.

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    I found old tom turkey's bathroom.

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    And I found a nice big rub.

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    Just before I had to leave the field I finally found those turkeys. They were on the other side of the creek on property I don't have access to. I started calling and I got them to come out of the grass and cross the creek. Sadly they were excited to stay right by the creek edge eating the corn and I couldn't call them in closer that 150ish yards.

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    I could try to go back out next weekend to that place, but my gas tank is getting pretty low. It has been a long season and I have had a bunch of fun. I'll post again if I get back out, but if not thanks for reading my adventures.

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