Wild turkey season: Prospects look good for hunters and birds; plus Wild Things and Stray Cast
The outlook for Illinois’ spring wild turkey season looks good for turkey populations and hunter participation; plus Wild Things and Stray Cast.
Luke Garver does not think the tough second half of winter will impact wild turkeys much in Illinois.
“This winter certainly did no favors for Illinois wildlife,” emailed Garver, Illinois’ wild turkey project manager. “However, wild turkeys are hardy, resilient birds. They’ve evolved to endure tough winters and I don’t expect the winter had much of a dramatic impact on our turkey population.”
Illinois’ north zone opens for the first segment of spring turkey season Monday. The first segment in the south zone opened two days ago.
Last spring was very odd for Illinois turkey hunters. Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites were not open because of pandemic restrictions, yet there was a stunning surge in overall harvest to 15,800 turkeys, most since 2012. That 2020 total included a record harvest of 1,744 birds during the two youth seasons.
“I had predicted last year would be a down year because reproduction in 2019 was at an all-time low,” Garver emailed. “In spite of low production, the 2020 season harvest ended up being the highest since 2012, largely because of increased effort related to the pandemic. For example, we saw a record number of hunters purchasing more than one permit for the 2020 season.”
The record spring turkey harvest came in 2006 with 16,569.
“If I have to make a prediction, it will be that harvest will be near, or possibly higher, than last year’s,” Garver emailed. “Reproduction in 2020 was up from the previous year. I also think we will see continued momentum for permit sales from the pandemic. We also will see hunters return full force to public land hunting, which they were excluded from last year.”
The IDNR tweaked the lottery process for 2021, making it easier to purchase permits through the online lotteries. Otherwise regulations are the same.
Bottom line for Garver is a spillover impact from the pandemic, “In Illinois we saw an increase in effort and harvest due largely in part to the pandemic. This was in spite of public land closures. I think excitement around turkey hunting will continue this year and hunters will be especially eager to enjoy their favorite public land hunting spot.”
Lack of rain is not helping with morels. By Tuesday, reports were as far north as Henderson County on the progression map from the Facebook group, Illinois Morel Mushrooms.
Finally figured Charles Barkley’s bird, a pileated woodpecker; all the gaudy hubbub grabs and holds interest.