Illinois hunting: Turkey Q & A

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For many of us, turkey hunting has climbed near the top of anticipated seasons.

In Illinois, the first regular season for spring turkey hunting in the south zone opened Monday, while the first season in the north opens Monday, April 13 (and I can’t wait).

Below is a  brief Q & A I did with forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton on general topics.

Any reg changes I might have missed? No, no significant changes this year. Statewide populations, steady, growing or declining? Relatively stable throughout most of the state, but several counties in west-central Illinois have seen declines over the past several years. Any new counties open for spring turkey that I missed? No, all counties remain the same. Considering we had two tough back to back winters (at least February and March this winter) in northern areas, is there any impact on turkey populations? Will there be any impact? Or are wet springs harder on turkeys that tough winters? Most turkey winter impacts occur in areas that are approaching the periphery of their northern range, and that doesn’t include Illinois. We’ve not noted any significant winter impacts on turkey flocks. Cold, wet springs do have an impact when they coincide with hatch and the early brood-rearing period. Hopefully we can avoid that this spring. Are northern zone populations steady, growing or declining? Or, maybe better, are there any problem areas? Most of the north zone is relatively stable. West-central Illinois counties in a band from about Hancock County south to Jersey County have experienced declines during the past several years. Will there ever be a hunting season for turkey in DuPage, Lake or Cook? Lake County is open to spring turkey hunting. I can’t speak to the future for Cook and DuPage, but right now they’ll have to settle for the fall archery season.


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