TheBenHoyle's 2018 Fall hunts (Turkey, Deer, Waterfowl)

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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Just as a way of introduction, I am an Illinois hunter chasing turkeys, deer and waterfowl this fall. I'm 42, but I didn't really start hunting until my mid 30s and this will only be my 3rd season after deer. I have yet to get one.

My season is just about to start, with shotgun turkey the next two weekends, but coinciding with archery turkey, archery deer and the beginning of duck and goose season. I will be out this Saturday morning with a good buddy and I am hoping to have some stories to tell and hopefully some game to process.

This is by no means a big wilderness or western hunt, I'll be sitting at the edge of an overgrown pasture with ag fields and hay fields all around. There's also some creek bottom to explore and I will attempt to do some spot and stalk if I think I can pull it off.

But it is my hunting story and I am challenging myself to record and share my story (good and bad) with you kind folks. I thank you in advance for reading, I hope it is a good time.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Dec 5, 2016
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Thanks guys. I'm within 24 hours of hunting which means I'm practically vibrating with anticipation. I am alternately wanting the time to speed up so it gets here and wanting time to slow down because I still have a lot of packing to do and real life things like my 11 year old daughter's play (her first ever) to attend tonight.

As a true contrast I was stuck in a traffic jam this morning with bumper to bumper traffic on my way to work.
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By that same time tomorrow, I should be watching turkeys sneaking under the fenceline about 1/4 mile out in front of me and I might even have some white tails within bow range.
 

TheBenHoyle

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OK. Time to pick up the thread. I'm going to try to Put this down as chronologically as I can.

Friday after work I had a bunch of stuff to do to prepare of course, all my gear needed to be assembled and packed into my Pilot. But I also needed to sneak in a little bit of shooting with my bow. Real quick back story: about 4 weeks ago I accidentally dry fired it and exploded my bow string.... I just got the restrung bow back a few days ago and I wanted to make sure I was back up to shooting form on it.
But I couldn't just get it packed and then go to sleep for my early morning. I had to stop my prep work so I could attend my oldest daughter's middle school play. It was good and she did a great job and I never would have missed it, but an hour and a half in a folding steel chair is a special type of torture...
When it was all said and done, I was packed up but exhausted and going to bed so late that I would only get about 4 1/2 hours sleep before hitting the road.

Saturday morning I woke up and hit the road for my almost 2 hour drive out of the Chicagoland area to my old hometown, just 2 miles from the Wisconsin stateline. I met up with my buddy Carl at my parents' house where I transferred most of my gear into his truck. We headed just outside of town to a little pasture remnant that was cut off from his Uncles' farm when they built the bypass highway around town. It has been unused for about 15 years now and it is a decent travel corridor for deer and turkey. On the other side of that remnant is an ag field and on the other side of that is a nice stand of mature hardwoods. Those trees are the roosting area for a few turkeys and Carl and I have sat there before on hunts. We have permission to hunt in the ag field but there's really no cover in the field itself other than the corn when it is standing.
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We were just camoed up and sitting behind a brushy fence looking out at the field, hoping that the turkeys would wander our way.
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But they didn't.
The thing about turkeys in the fall is that they don't often come to calls or decoys like they do in the spring. Also, it was windy. 25-30 mph winds. We decided they were probably staying in the roost or under the trees out of the wind. About 10:30 we drove over to Carl's parent's house to hike down to the creek that winds its way through the rest of the farm.
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I was hoping that we might find some errant ducks or geese hanging out down there but it was a no go. They have recently had some flooding about 10 miles south so there is a lot of standing water around for the birds to be on. But all was not lost, we found some deer tracks.
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And a rub.
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And then it started snowing - Big fluffy flakes!
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It was a fun little hike. And based on the tracks and the lay of the land, I might try to get back out to that spot next weekend if they haven't picked the corn yet so I can intercept the buck who made that rub.
We went into town and had lunch at the town bar and then tried to sit out in that pasture again for the afternoon, but we didn't stick it out til sunset. It was just so windy that I didn't think I would trust shooting an arrow at anything and it was close enough to fly-up time for the turkeys that we were relatively sure they weren't still cruising around.

So we went back to Carl's and had dinner.
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That's beef from steers that came from Carl's uncles dairy herd and Carl raised on his farmette. And his wife made something called squash and apples with apples he grew. It was delicious and hit the spot after a day out in the weather.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Sunday was another morning hunt in that same pasture. I stayed at Carl's so that saved me a lot of drive time. But it was a hard frost and we were sitting in 25 degree weather waiting for the sun to come up and wake the rest of the world. I was hoping that the clod front would have the deer up on their feet and looking to eat up the corn in front of us, but that was not the case. And the turkeys were silent, which probably means they have moved off to the far side of the woods about a 1/2 mile or so to the west. I did see two red-tailed hawks perched in the trees over there and they might be part of the reason they moved off.

We stuck around as long as we could though, but I had to head back to make it to my youngest daughter's soccer game so I couldn't do an afternoon hunt although I would have liked to. As it turned out, my daughter's team won and I was able to shoot my bow in the back yard after I unloaded all my gear.

It was not bad for a first weekend. I always love catching up with Carl and I love to be out in the weather exploring like that. I also love seeing the stars, which are hard to find in Chicagoland. It was disheartening to a degree knowing that we don't have really high quality opportunities for turkeys since they have to travel so far to get to where we sit. They do haunt that area and Carl got one two Springs ago in that spot and had a close encounter with some there last spring. But we only have one more weekend for these shotgun turkey tags. We did set up a real nice blind that might come in handy later in the season for archery turkey though.

Well that is all I have for now. I hope you are all out there hunting and having a good time.
 

vanish

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Solid update! Looks like your photos didn't come through quite right though. They probably got uploaded but not associated with the post. Try an edit, manage attachments?
 

TheBenHoyle

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Solid update! Looks like your photos didn't come through quite right though. They probably got uploaded but not associated with the post. Try an edit, manage attachments?
I don't see where I can edit the message. Or are you saying I should try reposting?
 

TheBenHoyle

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I've been looking at the weather for this weekend and it looks like the wind should be out of the east/south east on Saturday morning. That's out of the ordinary for the area I am hunting and it is emboldening me to think I should sneak in on that rub I found along the creek Saturday morning. I know a lot of people scoff at morning hunting unless you are in the middle of the rut, but this weekend should be the beginning of the chase phase, so there is likely to be activity at any time of day. Also, due to family time constraints, Saturday morning is my only opportunity. I have Sunday afternoon free, but the wind will be back to northwest which would be the worst wind to hunt that spot. I'm just hoping they don't pick that corn this week. Would change the whole dynamic.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Well the weekend was a complete bust. My plan for a deer hunt along the creek based on the tracks I saw the weekend prior fell apart thanks to the tenuous permission structure I was hoping to get. The land belongs to my buddy Carl's family, but Carl is pretty strictly a turkey hunter. He has raised ducks on his farmette and so waterfowl hunting is out because ducks are like little buddies to him. And he raises goats and to him deer seem like big goats. These opinions may change, but right now his interest stops at turkey hunting. Most of his family's land is not great for turkeys right now because a bike path runs through the middle of it. turkeys will travel through the area but they are two skittish to spend much time near the bike path, so no resident population.

Anyway, Carl has never specifically asked for permission from the rest of the family to hunt deer along the creek, but because I was interested, he asked and it turns out they have already given out that permission to some nice young man who happened to stop by the farm a couple years ago. They don't have his contact information ready at hand and don't know when he would be down there or not. So they said I could go down there, but I might be unsafe because there could be someone else down there.

Saturday I did end up siting in the pasture hoping that a deer or a turkey would come along as the sun was coming up, but about 9:30 the farmer who owns the ag field to the west comes rumbling up with a tractor pulling a couple gravity boxes and then goes walking back to get his combine to start picking the corn right in front of where I was sitting. I figured that was my cue to leave. It was nice to get out, but I think I have permanently crossed this off my list of real fall hunting opportunities. It may be worth the time for a spring turkey hunt and if I was there at the right time I might get a shot at a few deer coming in or out of the pasture, but I would like to focus on higher quality hunting opportunities for the rest of 2018.
 

TheBenHoyle

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As a follow up, my wife informed me that she is taking Wednesday off of work so she can be at the school for Halloween parties. Which means I could take the day off and go hunting in the morning. This is like an unexpected treasure. I am not positive what I will do with it yet. There is a public hunting area that I have wanted to check out but I haven't done any real scouting so I would be going in blind. It would be worth doing it so that I can get a start on learning it, but I am leery of bungling into something that ruins someone else's hunt that may have been scouting and setting up a perfect plan. I've got some research to do.
 

TheBenHoyle

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OK. It's on. I'm headed out to some public hunting ground in Illinois tomorrow morning. I am hoping that this time of year the deer should be on their feet in the daytime as the pre-rut activity is warming up. I would love to have a Halloween buck as it seems like a thing that happens sometimes. But more realistically I will just be observing since I haven't really scouted this place. Not very likely that I will be in the right place at the right time. I do have plans to go out on some private ground on Saturday. A friend of my dad's heard that I was an unsuccessful deer hunter this summer and said to me this summer, "When you're done pissing around and want to actually get a deer, you give me a call and I will put you on one of my stands." He's quite the character and I called him on his offer. I'm hoping he actually comes through on it. I'm supposed to call him Thursday to firm up those plans. But if I have a place to go with him on Saturday I am wide open to spend the whole day at it.

Either way, I will have some pictures and some more thoughts/stories to tell tomorrow.
 

TheBenHoyle

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Well I'm back. And I have a little bit of a story to tell I guess.
Halloween was a real treat for me because I got a bonus hunt in. I hadn't really planned on it, but my wife took the day off and even SUGGESTED that I should go hunt. Better get her something nice for Christmas...
Anyway, I have been meaning to hunt at Shabbona Lake State Park her in Illinois for a few years. I have been there for other reasons and it is a nice place. And it is only an hour's drive from home. But I have been distracted by other opportunities and I just hadn't made it a priority. I was a little daunted to get out there because I hadn't done any scouting and I really didn't want to bungle someone else's hunt or waste my time by being in the wrong place. But since the opportunity presented itself I took it.

Let me just start off by saying the State of Illinois Web presence for it's public hunting areas is TERRIBLE. The information available is of low quality most times and It is not cross referenced well at all. It might all be out there, but good luck finding it all.

I should say that the people who work for the DNR are great though. Every one of them that I have talked with has been informative and supportive. So I did feel good about getting this hunt in, although I was leery of showing up in the dark and being able to find a good spot to be in.

And that is where trailhead hunting buddies come in to play. I pulled up to the check in station and I'm the only one there. But before I can even get out of the car a truck pulls in and a guy who looked like he'd been there before hopped out. I introduced myself and asked him a couple questions and he had some good suggestions. We exchanged phone numbers in case either of us needed help dragging a deer out. He said he had been hunting there for 4 years and had good success. Which is nice to know because if you Google hunting at that park, you find very few posts on hunting forums and most of the posts are vague or downright negative. Which might be the old hunter's trick of not giving away your secrets. But that is neither here nor there. This guy helped me out a lot and I really appreciate it.

I didn't bring a tree stand since I had no idea where a stand would go well. I just had a stool so that I could ground hunt and be mobile if necessary. Trailhead Buddy informed me that the ag field in the park had been picked so I decided to tuck in along the edge of the picked corn. Here is my morning view.

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It was a really nice place to sit, the view was limited, but I felt I had a good shooting window and I was well screened on my left and right. Legal shooting light was 6:55 a.m and about 6:05 a.m. a very inconsiderate deer came tromping along about 15 yards out from right to left. It was too dark to see detail so I am not sure if it was a buck or a doe, but it seemed very solid in the shoulders and chest and it was walking very deliberately that just seemed buck-like to me.

Like I mentioned, it was too dark to shoot so I just had to watch the deer travel on it's way. It was a bit of a victory for me in that it is the first real live deer I've seen (not including roadside daredevils) since January on the last day of the last season. Also, the wind was nominally blowing from me to the deer, but in actuality the cover I was in kinda had the wind blowing from right to left. It was nice to know that I could get into a spot that I could see deer. Now I just need to work on timing.

At about 11 I decided to get up and walk around a little, to see what other places I might be able to set up. I found a nice group of sycamore trees overlooking the ag field on the West side.

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That could be a good tree to hang a stand in. Got that filed away for another day.

A little further down there was a nice area under the canopy of oaks and maples.

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I sat there for about an hour and a half, just watching the leaves fall and checking out all of the squirrels as they went about their squirrel business. And I found a nice tree to hang a stand in. So all in all it was a great day. I feel like I have this in my back pocket in case the guy who invited me to use one of his stands on Saturday flakes out on me. I'll be calling him to firm up plans tomorrow. And I can go out there for bow hunting from now until January. They don't allow firearm hunting on the property so I won't necessarily have to sit out those two weekends.

OK guys, take it easy. I'll be back with more as it happens.
 
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