April 2009: Brown County, Illinois
TurkeyPro.com publisher Larry Dale had been greatly looking forward to the start of the 2009 Spring Wild Turkey hunting season in Illinois, as his 2008 Illinois turkey hunting season had been limited to a single morning due to bad timing with a bout of flu followed by an abcessed tooth.
Hunting at the West-Central Illinois camp of Hunting Unlimited started slowly this year, with unusually cold and rainy weather. However, the Brown County scenery was spectacular, and the beautiful on-site Ridge View Winery provided an enjoyable diversion that was available following the end of turkey hunting hours at 1 pm each day.
The hunting steadily improved, and soon the hills of the "Illinois Ozarks" had the sounds of morning gobbles coming from all directions. Passing up a couple of opportunities to shoot Jakes earlier in the hunt in different locations, a last-day plan was hatched to erect a pop-up hunting blind adjacent to a travel route and be patient.
Mid-morning calling with a Primos "The Freak" friction call brought in a hard-gobbling longbeard from along the hillside behind the blind. He was already with a hen, but eventually followed her into the two (jake & hen) decoys planted in the field. (Both birds were only about 6 feet away from the side of the blind as they walked past.) The gobbler was certainly not the dominant bird in the area, as it took a while for him to join the hen in the field, and he became more and more cautious as he approached the decoys. However, he gave a great series of displays before he was harvested. This bird weighed almost 23 pounds, had a 10-inch beard, and carried one-inch spurs.
Useful gear? The pop-up blind provided the comfort for an extended session, the Primos call did a great job in bringing in the longbeard, and a proper seat provided both comfort and the proper shooting height for the blind windows. The red-dot sight, hevi-shot shotshells, and extended turkey choke were all important choices in preparation for this hunt, but the final shot was less than 20 yards, and this particular bird could have been harvested with a basic youth-model 20 gauge!
Learn More About Hunting Unlimited, Inc in Brown County, Illinois
Publisher Larry Dale and his 2009 Illinois Limbhanger