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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Spring Turkeys and Summer Fishing

Wed, August 01, 2018

Spring turkey hunting was a tough one for me and some of the folks I run with.  I tend to hunt more early seasons nowadays as I believe the birds tend to be less educated and the foliage isn’t too thick yet.  I’ve also guided the youth season for the past 7 years.  This year my youth hunter couldn’t hunt the date they had a permit which fell on some pretty darn cold and rainy dates this year.

After youth season, I was able to take my little man on his first ever hunt at the age of 5.  Unfortunately, I had little time to scout and ended up getting skunked that morning with all the birds in the woods roosted well down the hollow and with hens.  Brooks made me proud by waking up in the dark and sitting for better than 6 total hours and all without electronics.  I took a ton of snacks that he picked out and he spent some time in the sleeping bag I brought along to keep him warm in the tent.  Mostly he spent time peering through the windows claiming to see turkeys-ha! I hunted day two by myself and had two gobblers that wouldn’t budge from their strutting ridge.  A fox came through around 11 and spooked them off. 

Second season I guided some first timers in Fulton County on their farm and again we had two gobblers running from one strutting ridge to the other responding to calls but never wanting to close the distance before finally being dragged away by hens.  Normally I would stay for the late morning hunt which are some of my most successful but they had to call it early.

Third season found my dad and I again hunting our favorite public land spot.  Day one was frustrating and rainy with several birds staying out in the fields and wanting nothing to do with a call.  It was obvious they had been played with by earlier season hunters.  Day two we were set up on a big flock near the woods edge and had birds just inside the woods responding to calls but ultimately they stayed with their hens until we left mid-morning looking for birds with more interest.  After getting back to the truck and having coffee, catching up, Dad and I heard a gobble not 200 yards from where we stood.  I waited for 4 more excited gobbles and decided this bird was hot and I needed to get on him. Fifteen minutes later I had my biggest public land bird to date with 1 ½ inch spurs back at the truck.  Some soft yelps just inside the woods was all it took for this bird to come in spit drumming in full strut.  Can’t beat that sound in the woods! Hammerich’s is now putting together my first ever full mount turkey—gobbling on the roost from an oak limb.  I’ve seen and heard about his turkey mounts for years and I’m sure he won’t disappoint.  Can’t wait to see it on the wall. . ..
My extended family and I just got back from a weeklong trip down to Dauphin Island, Alabama near Gulf Shores. We had a blast swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and hanging out on the beautiful beaches there.  We will definitely be back.

The fishing was done both on shore casting into the bay side and also out on a charter.  The charter had everyone aboard catching one after another—everything from hammerhead sharks, croakers, gaff-topsail catfish, speckled trout, stingrays, and many other species that I can’t recall off the top of my head.  Nothing huge but all perfect eating size—they all tasted excellent fried and baked.  The rigs were pretty much the same and consisted of a leader with heavy weight and snap swivel for a hook.  This keeps the bait (squid, dead and live shrimp) anchored near the sea floor.  The fish bit much lighter than I thought and reminded me more of crappie fishing than what I would expect from ocean fishing.  This was my rookie venture out onto the ocean fishing and driving a rented boat. 

We took the boat out onto the far side of the island where it’s undeveloped and swam and explored the tidal marshes.  After swimming for a bit, I walked down the beach where the waves were hitting the unprotected side of the bay and saw some big cruising stingrays—and I mean BIG.  That made me a bit uneasy swimming in the nearby waters as I was told a story by one of our charter Captains about him being stuck by one.  He said it was a small one but felt like being jabbed by a red-hot poker in the foot and it lasted for over 3 hours until the hospital simply emerged his foot in a really hot tub of water which apparently pulls the venom out. 

One of the local kids gave us a good tip for hammering all species of fish.  Asking permission to fish a local lighted dock at night with live shrimp below a bobber suspended halfway to the bottom.  The kid said that you will “wear ‘em out” that way and that he spent several hours cleaning fish the first time he tried it. 

Our neighbors renting the beach house next to us were from Florida and loved to shark fish.  They spent the whole week with rods in the Gulf catching and releasing mostly back tips and sand sharks.  The biggest of which was around 5-foot-long and right next to where we were all swimming!  All of us thought it was the coolest thing to see and touch these neat fish though. . ..

Dolphins were everywhere out in the Gulf and on the bay side and we could get right up next to them by jet ski and boats. 

The oldest boy and I did a hike on an Audubon birding trail on the island and saw osprey, numerous bird species, skinks, turtles, and giant millipedes, but never found the big alligator that resided in the inshore lake. 

So far, this has been another great year outdoors and with the boys getting older and more able each year I can’t wait to share those adventures with them.  This year’s lining up to be a good one in terms of hunting opportunities here in central Illinois as well as a trip to the Northwoods for woodcock and grouse and the VDD-GNA Utility hunt dog test with the youngest dog.


Illinois turkey population is way down, have not seen an article on this web site about it but have read several from other sources. Most areas that I have killed birds in the past the Turkeys just are not there anymore. Congrats on your bird looks like a nice one.

Posted by cuttnstrut on August 04

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