Ben's 2022 Semi-live Hunt Log

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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Illinois
It's that time of year where I need to start my annual hunt log. In 2 days my first Illinois turkey tag will be valid and I will be out to get a Tom. I haven't been able to connect with a turkey since 2018 so I am really hoping to get it done this spring.

I'm contemplating taking Friday off work so I can get an extra day in the woods, but right now they are calling for thunderstorms. I'll see what it looks like in the forecast tomorrow. If it's going to be miserable maybe I will take off Monday or Tuesday.

I have 3 turkey tags this Spring so I will be out there as often as I can from Friday until Mother's Day.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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I was playing the old will I won't I game with taking today off to hunt, but they were calling for rain and chances of thunderstorms so I punted. And of course the weather outside looks good. I could have had a nice hunt this morning...

But that is what happens, plans change. Getting ready to get out in the morning and on Sunday. I am also planning on taking Tuesday if I need it.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Illinois
Well apparently the turkeys don't know what Gobble O'Clock means...

I went to the spot that I have had so many turkey encounters in the past and even doubled up with a buddy on some toms back in 2018, but there were no turkeys. I have noticed this spot has been a dry hole in the past 3 years, but I was hoping that it was cyclical and I would be back in business. No dice.

Part of the problem is that this is a very large piece of public property that is actively being restored and it is too far away from where I live for me to have up to date data about where the turkeys are in response to human activity...

But I will be out tomorrow morning in a different area that has been known to be turkey habitat. Here's hoping I can put all the pieces together.
 

TheBenHoyle

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This morning's hunt turned into a deer show.

IMG_2949.jpg

Right at first light I saw something come out of the far treeline. Hoping for a gobbler I see a deer. He makes a pretty steady beeline over to my decoys. He got to within 40 yards and started blowing. There were 5 more deer still back by the other side of the field. He eventually bolted back to the others.

I was hoping that would be the last of that and that turkeys would come check out the decoys. I did see two turkeys come out of the far treeline and work the field edge. I didn't get a good enough look to see if they were hens or toms. I didn't hear any gobbles so I think they might have been hens.

Of course, the deer didn't not fade away... They decided that all 6 of them should come and take a look.

IMG_2959.jpg

It was great to have a chance to look the deer over. They were all bucks and two of them seemed mature. Sure would like to see them in the fall.

Eventually they decided to run off, but when they left the field they took the turkeys with them.

I heard some turkeys over the next few hours, but nothing came back into the field. I left around 10 since they were calling for 100% chance of rain with thunderstorms possible.

I'm going to take Tuesday off work and try this spot again. Might move east a little since I didn't hear any gobbles but in two days the toms may have shifted west. decisions decisions...
 

TheBenHoyle

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Spent a lot of time trying to decide if I wanted to go back to the same field where the deer deke-blocked me or if I wanted to try a different spot. I eventually decided that I would go back to the same field but I would post up closer to the edge where I had seen the turkeys and I wouldn't put out a decoy.

I was gratified this morning to have a gobbler nearby as the sun rose. I estimated about 100 yards to my left and he seemed to be interested in my calling. I wasn't too aggressive but it seemed to get into a rhythm and I felt like he might be coming close before too long.

But then I see out on the far side of the field there are two coyotes working the wind coming out of that treeline. I am watching this as the gobbler is getting closer and I'm nervous that he will get to the field edge and see them and disappear back into the trees before he gets close enough for a shot.

I can't be sure that is what happened since I never saw the Tom, but he sounded like he was coming in hot and then I never heard from him again. And the Coyotes were still visible out in the field.

I watched where the coyotes were going and they both disappeared into the woods directly across the field from me. Oddly, about 10 minutes later a hen turkey came out of the woods at almost that exact same spot.

She didn't seem agitated and spent the next 45 minutes slowly feeding her way over towards me. It was nice to watch a turkey unawares. She eventually slipped into the trees about 45 yards to my left.

About 10 minutes later, a coyote came out of the treeline in approximately the same spot that the hen had just gone in. It was bizarre, like a play where the same actor is playing the part of the hen and the coyote...

This coyote went skating by me to the north about 100 out into the field.

I looked back to where the hen had gone in and the other coyote was also coming out of the trees, but instead of following his buddy, he ducked back into the trees. And I was thinking that maybe he was hot on the trail of that hen.

Nope. 10 minutes later, the hen re-emerges and slowly feeds her way back across the field to the spot she came out in the morning.

It was a good show but ultimately no shooting and no turkey meat in the freezer.

I'll be out on Saturday in a completely different place. More to come.
 

TheBenHoyle

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I've got Saturday and Sunday to get it done this Spring.

In a new twist, I was unable to secure permission to hunt the woods I have been hunting in the fall. Another buddy of mine has a 2-3 acre woodlot that turkeys sometimes cruise by in the pursuit of hens.

It will be nice to spend a couple mornings seeing a new patch of woods, but I have low percentage chance of a turkey I think. On top of that there is a chance to rain/thunderstorms both days.

But that is the only chance I have left for a spring turkey this year, so I'll be out there making the most of it.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Let me set the scene for this morning's hunt. I was hunting a small woodlot at the edge of an alfalfa field that is about 1/4 mile from the nearest big block of timber where the turkeys are usually bunched up. My buddy's dad, whose house is 150 yards from the trees says he sees them by him often, but he is not a hunter and is a little unspecific on his observations.

Going in I thought I would probably either a) scare the one turkey in the trees and then see nothing or b) not see any turkeys all morning or if I was lucky c) have turkeys cruising over from the big block of woods by around 10-10:30.

I got set up about 20 minutes before legal shooting light with my nice motorized full fan tom decoy in the corner of the alfalfa field where the fence line I thought they would be cruising met up with my treeline. And then I realized I couldn't find the remote to turn on the rotation for the decoy...

So at legal shooting light I am retracing my steps out into the field to look for it. No luck. I tuck back in to my spot, searching all around me and in all my pockets.... Still can't find it. I decide not to worry about it. I'll probably be able to find it when there is more light, which will be way before the turkeys arrive at 10.

At 6, I look up and see a hen checking out my decoys, she is unimpressed and continues on her way. But I am kind of amazed that the hen has come from the other direction. It must have been roosting in the trees I am sitting in.

IMG_2965.jpg


In the picture, I am tucked in next to the leaning trunk on the left. my decoys were out to the right and I was angled to be able to shoot out in that opening. The trees on the right are a fence line that leads to or from the big block of woods a 1/4 mile west.

The hen came from the left.

ABout 15 minutes later I look to the left and see what looks like two big black trash bags sitting in the field... It takes quite a bit of time with binoculars to figure out that I have a hen and a tom sitting there preening themselves. They have to have come out of the trees I am in and they are eyeballing my decoy, but the full-fan tom is basically just staring at them and not moving. They don't look like they are going to come any closer to the decoys, but they are only 30 yards from me. Unfortunately there is a decent amount of brambles on that side of the tree.

I decide to try a shot. The tom jumps and runs 10 yards further away. the hen jumps and come to within 10 yards of me. I try another shot. The tom flies away. The hen slips into the woods to my left. I look down and see the decoy remote next to my leg...

I hung out until 10:30 and didn't see another turkey. Feel bad that I messed that up, but I count it as a win because now I know there can be turkeys in those trees. I'll be in that same spot tomorrow, trying to decide if I want to skip the decoys or if I just want to but a hen up. Or maybe a Jake...

As a side note, when I got home I slice up the venison pastrami I smoked up yesterday. It tasted so good.
IMG_2966.jpg
 

TheBenHoyle

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Illinois
Went out to that same spot this morning. Set up a Jake and hen decoy in the grass at the field edge instead of out in the open.

6:05 am I look up and see the same hen in the same spot as yesterday. She looks over my decoys just like she did on Saturday and then saunters away to the west almost like she is on rails following the same path as before.

I was hopeful that the other two I saw, shot at and missed yesterday would be right on schedule 15 minutes later, but apparently they joined the witness relocation program and are now living in another state...

I toughed out the wind in my face until 8:30 and pulled up my decoys and left. I did a little looking around because I might be able to hunt this spot in the fall, but I didn't see much deer sign. That's not to say that they won't be there in the fall when there is corn on the back side of these trees, but they don't seem to be there now.

I do have a tag I could hunt next weekend for this same area. I'm pretty tired though so I am not sure I will be up for a 2:15 alarm and a 2 hour drive out and another 2 hour drive back. But if I go, I'll have another update.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
665
Location
Illinois
I decided to skip the weekend hunting opportunity since we are doing a lot of things in regards to Mother's Day. By the way, who thought having mothers day during Turkey season was a good idea?

I also want to give a little more time for the turkeys to develop some patterns that will have them roosting in those trees after I bogeyed it all up with my bad shots.

So I will be taking a half day at work on Wednesday or Thursday to see if I can pull a Tom before the end of the season.

That will be my last hunt until October when I can get my bow out again .
 

TheBenHoyle

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
665
Location
Illinois
Another Spring turkey season is in the books. I went out Wednesday morning and boy was it hot. Started at 75 degrees before the sun came up. By the time I called it at 8 ish it was already 80+.

I heard some gobbles to the west about 1/2 mile, but I knew they wouldn't come my way in the time frame I was giving myself.

I thought I heard something to my left, but I figured it was the hen who would come by around 6 am. I didn't see it and there wasn't much going on and I was hot, so I pulled my decoy and when I turned around to head back to the treeline the hen was right where I had thought I heard her.

She saw me and decided to prove that turkeys can fly. And that was the end of my season. It was disappointing to not get a tom, b ut I had some fun experiences and learned a few things. I also have a few ideas of places to set up for hunting in the fall.

As a counterpoint, when I get back to the spot where my car was, there was a bunny completely unconcerned by my presence... IMG_2975.jpg

Thanks for following along. I'll have more updates in October and beyond as I chase after deer and turkey, ducks and geese.
 

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