Ben's 2020 Semi-live hunt log

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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455
Location
Illinois
I just confirmed that I will be going out on Saturday for some late season archery hunting in that little stand of woods I have been hunting the last 2 seasons. I should have northwest winds at 10 mph and it should be partly sunny after a Friday evening and overnight snow/rain. Looking forward to getting out after deer and turkeys and I am reasonably hopeful that I will have an opportunity to put an arrow in one or the other. I might be able to go out a couple more times before my archery season ends, but I know my wife's patience for my hunting starts to wear a little thin at this time of year. I'll be sure to update you.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
I was in my stand before sun up on Saturday. It wad snowed about 1-2 inches overnight and as the sky is brightening I can se tracks running all over in the snow and I'm thinking it's going to be a good day. I heard the turkeys down by the creek to the north of me and saw a few squirrels tromping around, but no deer materialized.

About 10:30 I decided to get down and see if I could locate the turkeys and I see that there are indeed deer tracks all over, but next to every deer trails are these tracks.

Paw.jpg

Apparently I missed the predator train that rolled through about 3 am... I was pretty sure there were no more deer sheltering in my little six acres of timber.

I was able to locate the tom flock of turkeys about 1/4 mile north of me. It was fun to watch them out in a cornfield. At one point they got spooked by a flock of Canada geese swooping low over the field to land in a nearby pond. They all scattered and some came to my side of the creek, but they were still about 100 yards away across a picked bean field. So there was no way I could get a shot. I called to them and they were looking for some turkey to join up with, but I didn't have a decoy out so that didn't work.

I decided not to go back up the tree after lunch on the assumption that the deer were going to stay away. But as a bonus I saw a bald eagle flying overhead, which was majestic as heck.

I'm hoping to get out again next Saturday, weather and wife permitting. We are hosting a family Christmas dinner on Sunday so I'll have to get a lot of things done beforehand to make the case that I can be out sitting in a tree on Saturday. On the plus side I'll be doing up some venison for the family Christmas.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
I got the ok from my wife to go out next weekend for the last two days of may archery season. There should be a cold front coming through after snow, so it might be productive with deer on their feet. I'm going to try to be on the stand for Saturday afternoon/evening and then Sunday morning I might try to decoy some jakes across the field right at sunrise. That will depend on where they roost. But it will either work right away or it won't. I should then be able to sneak up my stand for a few hours of sitting in case a buck wants to wander by. Either way I have a plan and I'll have an update for you guys next week as to how it goes.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
It's snowing now and there should be about 3-4" on the ground tomorrow afternoon when I head up the tree. It is going to be cold though. I am hoping I can handle the cold for as long as I would like to be out. But regardless I am excited to get out of the house. Both of my kids got sick this week and I spent Wed-Fri through stuck at home taking temperatures and cleaning up sick.

I'll give you an update on the other side of the weekend.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
I'm going to start off this update by paraphrasing a joke about the guy who was drowning and prays for God to save him. A boat comes along and offers to pick him up and he say, no, God will save me. Another boat comes by and he says God will save him. He dies, goes to heaven and asks God why he didn't save him and God says, I sent you two boats...

That pretty much sums up my last day archery hunting for the season. I was out in my normal tree stand with a buck tag and 2 turkey tags well before legal shooting light and it was COLD. Zero degrees with a -8 wind chill. As the sun came up I could see tracks in the fresh snow all around my stand and I was pretty optimistic. I heard a couple turkeys to the north, which is where I usually hear them as the Tom flock usually roosts by the creek about 250 yards north of me.

After a couple hours on the stand with no activity, I decided to get down and sneak down the quarry that bisects my stand of woods east to west to see if there were any deer bedded along it or maybe in the west end of the woods. The snow was crunchy but the wind was also noisy so I wasn't too worried about that. I should have put my snow camo on over my regular camo since I would now be on the ground, but I had already written off the day of hunting in my mind, thinking that I would get to the end of the quarry, see nothing and head home. First mistake.

Actually second mistake, as I noticed once I was on the ground that the tracks were not deer tracks at all, but actually turkey tracks. So my first mistake was not making the effort to get out Saturday afternoon, which would have put me knee deep in turkeys...

tracks.jpg

Another mistake you can add to the list was not taking the tracks seriously enough. I assumed that the lack of turkey noises in my woods at sunrise meant that the turkeys were to the north where I can't hunt them unless they travel back to the south. But the snow stopped mid afternoon on Saturday, so if there were that many turkeys making tracks in the late afternoon, they should have roosted in my small block of trees. I should have told myself to be on high alert, but instead I was too focused on the missed opportunity that I let myself be all sour grapes over it. As I went down the quarry, I had completely written off turkeys and I was only hoping to catch a bedded deer.

Well, As you can imagine, I get to the end of the draw and I let my stealth guard down, popping up in full view of about 20-30 turkeys who spooked off to the north. They didn't quite leave the trees, so I slid back down into the quarry and put on my snow camo and started calling. I came back up and slowly moved in their direction, and my calling seemed to stall them, but none came back my way. Eventually they quit calling and I lost sight of them. I got to the north side of the block of trees and went up a treestand there. Thinking that maybe I would be able to see where they went or at least be in a position to ambush them if they came back this way. Or hey, maybe a buck would stroll by...

None of that happened and the wind was much more gusty on this corner of the property. The tree I was in was not massive and I was looking at a massive Oak tree that had fallen over in the fall sometime about 60 yards away. Before long I decided the tree was swaying a little too much for my tastes. I was about to get down, but I decided to get my binos out and check the landscape for any sign of those turkeys. About 500 yards north and east of me is a nice pond that was covered with geese. Probably 500 of them. And all of a sudden they start making a big ruckus. Thinking they are about to fly up in a big flock I looked over and saw that they were honking at the flock of turkeys, who had made their way over and were filing past the pond.

So I had relocated the flock and it was far enough away that I decided I wouldn't be seeing them any time soon. I took a long slow hike back to my original stand, stopping along the way to look for the turkeys but they had left the pond and gone in to the CRP somewhere to the south and east of the pond. I had hopes that they would keep working south towards my trees, but I didn't have any proof of it. So I eventually go up my tree in the southeast corner of the property in hopes that a deer would come from the south or the west.

I really didn't think anything would come from the east since it is just a picked bean field with the highway on it's eastern edge. Add that mistake to the pile. After about 90 minutes of not watching the east at all, and in a moment when my back was turned to it entirely, I hear a turkey. I slowly look over and see that there is a tom at 30 yards! And here is a list of mistakes all tied up in a pretty bow. First, I didn't take my time turning on the stand, which I should have since one turkey probably means more and I have plenty of time to just let the turkeys get in front of me. Second, I realize that I never knocked an arrow when I hung it on the bow holder, so I start mentally freaking out about all of the movement it will take to knock an arrow. Third, I tell myself that I need to take the mitten off my left hand so I can handle the bow better?!?! I should have just stood still and enjoyed the view and waited for flock movement to offer me more targets and moved slowly. But instead my mitten comes off and the tom sees it and he cuts out like his fan is on fire. I didn't see any other turkeys but if they had been there, he cleared them out.

So now I am thinking that the day is done and there is now reason to stick around, but it is close to 2pm and I am in the sun so I'm handling the cold ok. I decided I will stay until 2 and then sneak down the hill to the north edge of the trees and see if I can spot the turkeys. At 2 I get down and sneak slowly north and I'll be darned if there aren't turkeys right down at the edge of the field. I'm in snow camo and I have a snowy hillside as a backdrop and several large trees between me and them so I decided I will walk as slow as anything has ever walked to get to the edge of the trees. And it works. I get to an almost shootable position and the turkeys are about 80 yards out, but then they start drifting north and I watch as they go in to a little stand of trees along the creek.

Here's another mistake. I should have made that final move to be in a shooting position and just watched and waited, but instead I tell myself it's over, just go home, so I waste my sneaking by getting up and walking back south. I get about 40 yards away from where I was and I look back and what do I see, 4 effing turkeys right out in front of my shooting spot I had just been in!!! So back I go, sneaking in to position. Of course, by the time I get back to where I was, they have followed the same path as the others and are ducking in to the trees by the creek. I was ready to just leave, but in a split second the whole flock comes right back out of the trees and starts drifting back my way. They got within about 70 yards of me and then they drifted back to the north and them to the west and then back to the east. I probably counted them about 100 times and I had a lot of fun watching them in the binos.

turkeys.jpg

And I was content to sit there until they had to roost, thinking they might just come back my way. But then I hear a crunching in the snow and look up to see some guy in a full blaze orange jump suit walking east to west across the field in front of me. He had a gun of some sort and he might have been planning on shooting a deer with a CWD tag or maybe he was going to do a predator hunt. I really don't know, but he did send all the turkeys flying off to the north side of the creek. Game. Set. Match. Season over.

Turkey Plot.jpg
Here's a little overview of my hunt. I started at the red dot in the lower right corner, went to the red dot in the upper left corner, spooking the turkeys represented by the purple smudge. I colored in the pond with blue to see it better. There is a purple smudge showing the turkeys movement by the pond. I have a light purple line showing the turkey who ran away from my treestand and then a red dot showing where I was sitting to end the hunt. the purple smudge in a T shape shows the various travels of the flock as I watched them.

I wish I had connected on a turkey, but I had a great time hunting them. I will probably get back in to the those woods in the spring with a shotgun to go after those turkeys. I haven't pulled that tag yet. I do have a different turkey tag that I will update you about later. Might do some coyote hunting in February/March.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
I'm making plans to get out after coyotes in the next few weeks. I have never targeted coyotes specifically, but I've had some encounters and they seem to be in a population boom state in my normal hunting areas, so I think there are good chances I can get on some. I have a buddy with an electronic call and an electronic decoy. He also has a pile of them running the railroad track right of way on the north edge of his property. It might be a couple weeks before I get out, but I'll have an update if it happens. I have another friend who has wanted to get me out ice fishing with him, so it might turn into a weekend where I do a little of both.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
Due to a busy schedule, a thrown out low back and some sinus infections, I never got out after the coyotes. I still might, but more than likely it won't happen. I've already pivoted to other projects and content to wait until turkey season to get out in the woods again.

In other news, I have been invited to go on a Canadian fishing trip to Northern Ontario in September. I'm not much of a fisherman, but I have always wanted to get more into it. So this should be a good trip. I have a buddy who is organizing the trip and is willing to show me the ropes and I was able to invite my dad to come along too.

This weekend I will be elbow deep in hunting and fishing stores trying to spend my year end bonus to get ready for turkeys and walleyes. I'll update the log as I go of course.
 

dirtclod Az.

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Jan 24, 2018
Messages
2,088
Still following.
Spending a few rainy days here building arrows for Deer and Javelina later this year and Jan, of 2021'
Can't wait to hear more about your fishing trip. 〽💥
 

TheBenHoyle

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Illinois
Still following.
Spending a few rainy days here building arrows for Deer and Javelina later this year and Jan, of 2021'
Can't wait to hear more about your fishing trip. 〽💥
I pretty excited about the fishing, although it is still quite a while away yet. Most of the fishing I have done is just shore fishing in ponds with worms an bobbers. This trip should teach me a lot and I should be eating a lot of fish.
 
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