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Illinois turkeys: Fall firearm fall-off goes on

Hunter effort and success during the nine-day fall firearm season for wild turkeys in Illinois keeps sliding. The 2009 season, which ended Sunday, had a preliminary harvest of only 756 turkeys, less than half of harvest only nine years ago.

Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this accounting:

The 9-day Fall Firearm Turkey Season ended November 1, 2009 with a preliminary harvest total of 756 turkeys, continuing a decline in hunter participation and harvest. Comparable totals from previous years were 878 (2008), 1161 (2007), 1189 (2006), and 1201 (2005). Top five counties were JoDaviess (64), Jefferson (52), Wayne (44), Marion (42), and Union (34). Forty-five counties were open to the fall firearm season.

IDNR issued 9,180 permits for the 2009 fall firearm turkey season, including landowner permits. The total number of permits issued for the fall firearm turkey season peaked in 2003, with 11,509 permits issued. The record harvest season was in 2000, with a harvest of 1715.