Ben's 2021 Semi-live hunt log

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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643
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Illinois
There has been some hunting action over the weekend so it is time for an update.

On Saturday my buddy and I went out for some waterfowl hunting. Started out great. With 10 minutes before legal shooting light we were getting ducks in our spread and we had about 15 ducks just to the right and 15 to the right. over 30 ducks within range.

But then one of the drakes in the group of 4 right in front of us decided to play grab ass with one of the hens and she got upset and flew he followed and the other two did too. They didn't fly far, but that momentum got the group on the right to move further right and the group on the left drifted around a corner and out of sight...


IMG_2674.jpg

At sunrise, all we had were decoys and a nice view.
We did have a lot of action with birds overhead looking at our spread, but it was nothing compared to the very real looking spreads about 100-150 yards to the left and right of us. So the birds in the air kept passing us by.

Eventually we decided to creep slowly to the right in hopes that we could find those other ducks. All we found was a buck in the water.

IMG_2676.jpg

Of all the times to have a shotgun in my hand instead of a bow... It was neat to see, but he had essentially shifted the ducks another 200 yards further away.

I did eventually end up connecting with a single drake that appeared out of nowhere and decided to drop into our spread. He took a load of pellets right to the face, so in the picture he is bottoms up to hide the gore.
IMG_2678.jpg

My buddy and I had a great day and we might do things a little differently next time, but the water is getting pretty low and unless we get some rain it might be pretty hard to get to this spot. But we have a few weeks left before the season ends so hopefully we will get a couple more nice hunts in.
 

TheBenHoyle

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643
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Illinois
On Sunday I went out to hunt a spot near my hometown. If you have followed along with my past season, this is an area with a couple 10-20 acre woods surrounded by ag fields and some CRP. There is a creek that runs through it east to west. In the past three seasons I have hunted a tree stand that is in the southern woodlot that is up off the creek, but the person who invites me out to hunt has a son in law who wanted to hunt that stand this season, so he told me I should hunt the woods along the creek.

I didn't really know what to expect, but I like to try new things and within 10 minutes of sitting in the stand I could see 2 does moving out of the CRP and across a hayfield about 200 yards away from me. They crossed the road to the north into what looked like more CRP.

This stand had a really great view, which was nice. About 10 minutes after the, I saw a buck come across that road to the north and walk across the hayfield to the CRP. It was almost the exact path in reverse of the does.

Once he got into the CRP he meandered my way for about 30 minutes, eventually popping out in front of me at 22 yards.

Now because I had such a great open view and my new binoculars I was able to get a really good look at him and noticed he was missing the left side of his antlers. While I enjoy a half rack at the rib joint, I figured I would let this one get away. I really enjoyed the show and tried to practice judging his age, which I think is 3-1/2, but maybe 2-1/2.

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After he left the scene I saw little forky come out of the trees to the left. He got into some brush and I think he bedded down. I never saw him again. That was all I saw for deer, but I had more action.

My host had mentioned that there were 4 other stands in this chunk of woods and told me I could hunt any of them. From observing these trees while hunting the trees to the south, I was pretty sure there were turkeys in them somewhere. So at about 10:30 I decided to still hunt through to the other side.

I got to about where I thought there would be turkeys based on past observations and... one too many steps sent the entire flock into the air. 40ish birds scattered in every direction. I spent several minutes feeling like an idiot for blundering in and messing everything up.

But then I started thinking about how my time on hunt talk has educated me that if you bust up a turkey you need to sit down and let things settle down so you can call the flock back to you. So that is exactly what I did. AND IT WORKED!!!

Now before you get excited to see a victory shot with my first archery turkey, I should say that it worked in concept, but my execution of the perfect plan was less than desired.

I sat down and did some calling, but I didn't have an arrow nocked or even have my bow in my hand. first lesson of the day: don't call a turkey unless you have a weapon in your hand.

Almost immediately after calling I had a hen in the corn, not 20 yards away decide to come my way. She was coming fast and for the right, so by the time I had my bow with an arrow nocked, she had seen me and decided to fly up into a tree right in front of me. I considered trying to shoot her out of that tree, but before I could come close to drawing back she decided to fly much much further away.

I was a little sad that I had messed up, but at the same point I had proof that this scheme could work. So I kept working my call and within about 15 minutes I had another turkey coming. This time it was coming from the left so I was pointed the right way to get a shot. I got pulled back about the time it noticed me and started skirting around to the left.

There was a lot of brushy junk that it was moving through, but there were openings, so I was tracking it with my bow and at one point it stepped into an opening and I let loose. There was a nice THWIP sound and I felt like it was a good shot, but the turkey ran a couple steps and took to wing. It flew nicely and landed on the other side of some standing corn (about 130 yards).

I looked for my arrow and I couldn't find it. I also couldn't find any feathers or blood on the ground. I might have buried the arrow in the ground as it was probably only 10 yards. I looked on the other side of the corn and there were no feathers, no blood. I am thinking it was a clean miss. It is easier to believe that I missed a moving turkey and lost the arrow to the ground than it is for me to believe I hit the bird but not mortally and it somehow took my arrow with it.

All in all, it was just exciting to be in a place to take a shot on a turkey. My first ever, I've always been surprised by turkeys in the past so no shot opportunity.

I sat back down and managed to call in some more turkeys but they were staying in the corn and working my way very slowly. When they were about 20 yards away but in the corn there was a commotion and I saw something orange moving around and then the turkeys disappeared. Later I took a look and the orange thing was a piece of marking tape that was on a temporary stake that must have been used to mark out tree removal or something. I'm assuming that it blew int he wind at the wrong time and set off the turkeys to running into the corn. leave it to a turkey to be scared by something that has been a part of its environment for several months...

Long and the short of it is I had a lot of fun and my host told me that I can some out and hunt the same area as much as I want for the rest of the season. SO I am hoping I can have another chance at one of those turkeys.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
643
Location
Illinois
I picked up a shotgun season tag so I could go out to that same stand for a morning hunt on Sunday.

It was somewhat uneventful. I had 5 does bounding past me at about 8:30. If I had been shotgun hunting I probably would have been able to get one, but I was out with my bow. In Illinois you can bow hunt during the firearm season as long as you have a firearm tag.

I could only stay out until 10:30 so I suffered through as much occasional rain/sleet as I could stand and headed back out to my car. On the way I saw a bright new rub about halfway from the stand to my car.

You can tell that the deer are crossing the creek right behind my stand so I have some high hopes that a few more sits out there would be worth my time.

Also I heard the turkeys waking up which is always nice. Unfortunately my archery turkey tags are not valid during the firearm season, otherwise I might have tried to move in on them yesterday. I'll leave that on my to do list for Larter in the season.

On Friday I head out for a weekend of hunting with D (from my earlier posts about hunting in Indiana) on some private land near Springfield, IL. That will be the next update.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
643
Location
Illinois
Getting all geared up to take a half day of vacation tomorrow to drive down near Springfield to do a couple days worth of archery deer hunting. Looking forward to hunting a new place. I've been reluctant to shoot anything so far this year since I still have some venison and I haven't seen anything really amazing, but I am getting that feeling that the time is right to make something happen.

I'll have an update on Sunday or Monday. Hopefully it will be good times and above all I hope my buddy D gets his first deer.
 

TheBenHoyle

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643
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Illinois
Well bad news guys. I had no luck this weekend. It's always nice to get out in thew woods and I did see a few deer, but none close enough to be important. My buddy D ends his first season with no deer, but I think he is hooked and we'll look forward to some success next year.

I'll be out a few more times this year although I am not sure exactly when and where. I'll keep you posted though.
 

TheBenHoyle

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643
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Illinois
2021 such season ended with a whimper instead of a bang. Apparently the majority of the migrating ducks from last week pushed out Saturday so we showed up Sunday a day late.

We had a lot of action, but the ducks kept coming from behind us and deciding that didn't want to come in to our spread.

We got some geese interested and my buddy managed to bring a couple down. All of my best shots were blocked by a dead tree I was using for cover.

But I still think that sitting by water on a cold fall morning is may favorite way to not get a duck. Less comfy than staying in bed, but I have plenty of those mornings.

We might get out after some geese in January, but the river will need to come up a little as my buddy's boat struggled with rocks and sandbars on Sunday.

I'm hoping to get out Dec 26th and the 28th yet this year for a chance at deer and turkey. I'll keep posting updates.
 

TheBenHoyle

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643
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Illinois
The plan was to go out to the private land where I have had some turkey encounters on the day after Christmas. Due to unforeseen factors I was unable to get enough sleep to make the 2 hour drive before legal shooting light so I pulled an audible and went to a closer piece of public land that I have access to.

I got there just before legal shooting light and spent about 2.5 hours still hunting it. I had never been to this location so this was as more of a scouting trip than a true hunt. I found some sign that I think could be promising and I might get back out there in the next few days, but even if I don't I will definitely put in for access to that piece next year.

I left there around 9 and headed out to the private land stand, getting there about 11. Walking in to my stand I bumped a couple of deer. They didn't see me or smell me, but my walking noises were enough to send them running to the east.

Those deer busted up a flock of turkeys that were feeding out in the CRP about 80 yards east. I could see turkey heads in the tall grass, so I set up a blind screen along the creek where a nice wide shooting lane came off the game trail thinking I could call one or two back my way.

The screen has plenty of windows, but I told myself I should only open the one facing the shooting lane. The left one was looking at a pile of branches and the right one was looking at the creek. And of course, if I had opened the one by the creek I would have been golden.

before I knew it I had 5 of them coming at me along the creek. the lead one actually leaned way out over the bank to peek around the screen at me... And I had two of them lined up like tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum that if I had shot an arrow at the lead one I would have had a two-turkey shish-ka-bob. (see the picture below with the crude brown blobs.)

IMG_2746.jpg

I really wish I had opened that window. I thought about trying to shoot through it, but I didn't know if that would deflect the shot and this was the first time using the screen so I wasn't sure how much movement I could get away with when the turkeys were so close.

The one that was looking around the screen decided to walk to my left which would put him right in front of my open window, so I decided to pull my bow and shoot him as soon as he was in frame.

IMG_2747.jpg

And let me tell you it worked perfectly, right up to the point when my glove bumped the trigger on my release when I was half drawn. The arrow slipped right behind the turkey, who flew up and away. By the time I had another arrow nocked the others had all run after him.

On the plus side, the turkeys didn't go far. I spent the rest of the afternoon, moving slow and trying to get into a position for another ambush. At about 2:30 I was set up in a draw just up the hill from the creek, hoping that I would be able to pull them up toward me. So I called and heard a response, it sounded like it was coming from the creek, where I thought the turkeys were.

Called again. Heard a response. Still thought it was co ing from the creek. Not seeing anything. Look to the right - away from the creek. Guess what. It's a turkey. It sees me move and starts running. But it is running right past me. So I pull back and put my sight on him and let it fly. And it goes right where the turkey was....

I wish I had come up with some turkey meat but I kinda feel like I need to fail a few more times before I can figure out how to get it to actually work.

I watched the turkeys for the rest of the afternoon and watched them get further and further away from me. Super exciting day.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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643
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Illinois
Tuesday was my birthday and I like to go hunting on my birthday. So I went back out to that same spot. I was hoping for another chance at some turkeys, but also hopeful for some deer action. I knew it was going to snow so I was hoping I could use that to my advantage.

At sunup I heard the turkeys to the east and figured that after the snow started falling I would put on my snow camo and make a play on them.

Sadly, the landowners to the east decided that would be a perfect time for him to run his ATV all over his property and it scared the turkeys. Last I saw they were on a run to the next county to the southwest...

I only spent half the day because my parents were going to have lunch ready for me and I didn't think the turkeys would be back anytime soon. But I had a nice day and I have to say I really enjoy sitting out in the snow.

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How it started.

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How it ended.

I am hoping to get out on Sunday. There should be some snow, but it is going to be COLD!!! We'll see how that comes together.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
643
Location
Illinois
Sunday was a bit of a bust. I didn't have my act together and ended up getting to my hunting spot right at first light. I bumped about 8 deer from right under my stand... half of them went east under the trees where the turkeys were roosted and so they went east with them.

I ended up having a great day of being out in the woods. I got to watch geese pile into a pond, about 40 turkeys roam all around the picked bean field all the way over to the east (off of the property where I can hunt). I saw a flock of cranes real low and a bald eagle. It was amazing how quickly the day went by and how I was able to deal with the cold (around 10 degrees).

About an hour and a half before sunset I had a doe sneaking up behind me, but then the ice on the creak cracked and scared her half to death. 20 minutes later she was sneaking back around, but she stayed well clear of the area she had been before. Neat to watch.

In the last hour of the day I had two does come out of the trees about 100 yards north of me and work pretty directly straight east and out of sight. A moment later I saw another doe headed towards me, but about 50 yards away she cut back into the trees and I realized she was one of 3. They milled around to the west for about 20 minutes and then headed back north. Not close enough for a shot.

And in the last 10 minutes 6 more came across the road from the north. 2 of them looked like they were on a direct line for me but they hung up about 100 yards out. The other 4 were pretty much standing in the road. If I had been in my car, it would have been about a 30 yard shot...

There are two weeks left of the archery season but I think I'm only going to be able to get out one more time. I will try very hard to get out an hour before legal shooting light.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
643
Location
Illinois
Well that's it Folks, the end of the season.

I went out on Sunday in the morning with the idea that I would try to stay out all day. But it was COLD in the single digits with wind chills in the negative range.

I had lots of fresh tracks under my stand, but nothing was moving at sunrise. Except the turkeys of course, who were roosted on the edge of the CRP, but pitched down to the east and drifted away to about a half mile away from me on a clear field that I can't hunt.

I watched them and still hunted the trees a little, but at a little after noon I decided that I was pretty much done. The turkeys weren't;t coming back from their field any time soon and I probably wouldn't see a deer until close to last light. Didn't feel like sitting through 4 more hours of the cold to be rewarded with having to field dress a deer (maybe) in the frigid temps wasn't my highest hopes and dreams for the day. I could still go out this weekend but I have a medical procedure scheduled for Monday and it's the type you need to prepare for by being close to a bathroom. So the tree stand is a no go,

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I got a real neat picture of the creek icing up and I saw a lot of nice birds like cardinals and woodpeckers and a purple finch. So it wasn't a complete waste of my time to get out and brave the cold.

It is hard to believe the season is over, but I think it was pretty successful. Not in terms of game taken (one mallard), but I got to explore two new public hunting areas and I introduced a new hunter to the pursuit of deer with a bow. I had some great experiences and while I was ultimately unsuccessful in getting a turkey, I had three shot opportunities with my bow. That's as close as I have come so far. One of these times it will all come together and I will bring one home.

Thanks for following along. I'll be starting up a new thread in April when I get a chance to go out with my shotgun after turkeys. Until then I will be working in my new shed, arranging the tools and getting started on some outstanding projects that have been on hold while I built the shed.
 

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