Turkey Hunting Tips
Modern day turkey hunters enjoy some of the best turkey hunting. Some overlook this opportunity because they do not have a place lined up to hunt. Illinois also has some of the country’s best public land turkey hunting. The public land hunting programs have and are used as models by many wildlife management agencies of other states.
The public land hunting opportunities help to meet the demand that cannot be met by private property.
Illinois hunters can receive several permits for the single spring season.
Application forms are available from the IDNR Permit Office in Springfield or on line at the IDNR website: http://www.dnr.state.il.us. Most IDNR regional office also will have them available.
Additional state regulations and site specific rules can be obtained by contacting the public land site and from the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations. The later is available free from the IDNR online at the above website.
Like most hunting, public land turkey hunting requires one to know the habits and habitat of the birds. It is important to know how turkeys react under hunting pressure and different weather conditions. Weather, the type of cover and having the proper hunting equipment all play a part in finding birds.
Experienced public land hunters learn to concentrate their efforts on areas that do not receive human traffic. Hedge rows offer concealment opportunities for birds that become call shy early in the season. Another such cover situation is any brushy areas next to grain fields.
Weather during turkey season is a real iffy proposition. Passing cold fronts bring with them spring storms. The time just prior to the passing and just after a storm usually means that the birds will be actively feeding. Grain fields, or any other place where spilled grain might be found, are good places to seek out Mr. Turkey. Out of the way roads offer promise of feeding birds.
Scanning the woods is another tool of the turkey hunter on public land. One not only scans the property looking for birds but also for other hunters. In the interest of safety it is wise to know where your fellow hunters are and what they are doing. Any movement in public land hunting should be done slowly and with purpose. The best rule of thumb is to move only when entering or leaving the woods. Never use a turkey call when entering or leaving the hunting area. It is too easy to be mistaken for a turkey moving through the brush.
If you should spot another hunter moving toward you it is recommended that you whistle softly. It will not spook turkeys or the other hunter but will make him aware of your presence. Do not wave lest he mistake you for a bird.
Once in place it is wise to begin calling with soft calls. This is particularly true after the birds have been hunted for some time. The birds have been hearing lots of calls and tend to regard hard calls as danger.
Soft calls attract a gobbler’s attention out of curiosity. The purr calls whether hen or fighting purr calls get older birds to respond in response to their desire to dominate their territory.
Well hunted areas can be totally unproductive on any given day. That does not mean that there are no birds, only that they are not responding to calls. This could be the result of the gobbler being with a hen or are not paying attention to hen sounds because they have become call shy. The next day one may find turkey hunting productive in the very same area.
Even pressured birds are aggressive in the spring. By sitting still and listening for the sounds of the woods, it is possible to hear the disturbance of leaves as gobblers move about in search of hens. In their pursuit of hens, with which to mate, the gobbler will strut and drum giving away his location.
With a little scouting of the area you plan to hunt, and by paying attention to safety while moving about in the woods, one can enjoy a very fruitful experience hunting turkeys on public land.
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