Resident hunters may now apply for the first lottery for 2018 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Season permits online.
To apply, merely go to the IDNR website for more information at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting.
The application deadline for the first lottery for 2018 resident spring turkey permits is Dec. 1.
Disappointing turkey harvest
The nine-day Illinois’ fall firearm turkey season wrapped up with hunters seeing a decrease in harvest.
This fall brought a nearly 10 percent harvest decrease for Illinois fall firearm turkey hunters. And, many hunters are now claiming the reduced results from the annual fall firearm hunt may be a harbinger of things ahead for spring hunters.
During the nine-day fall firearm season wrapped up on Oct. 29, hunter harvest totals in many open counties also showed reduced numbers. The preliminary harvest figures show hunters bagging a total of some 350 birds, down from the 385 wild turkeys taken during the 2016 fall firearm hunt – a very disappointing season.
According to some hunters, the reduction in harvest is likely due to reduced success in turkey reproduction efforts last spring.
While this may be partly true, some of the reduced harvest can be most likely attributed to better hunting weather during the fall hunt.
The early and unofficial figures show Illinois’ top five counties for turkey harvest during the 2017 fall firearm hunt were JoDaviess with 43 birds. Jefferson came in second with 23 birds, while Wayne and Williamson finished in third with 21. Marion County grabbed the fifth spot with 16 turkeys.
Locally, Calhoun County hunters bagged two birds, one less than 2016. Hunters in Greene County harvested five, up one from last year. The total harvest in Madison County was three, compared to four in 2016.
The Macoupin County hunt produced five, up from three last year. Similar success came in Jersey County where hunters bagged one bird, identical to a year ago. Morgan County hunters bagged three birds, compared to four the previous year.
At least 11 counties showed increases in harvest, while most recorded decreases. Interestingly, many of the greatest decreases in harvest came from southern and west-central Illinois.
Compared to the spring hunt, fewer counties are open to fall firearm turkey hunting. And unlike the spring hunt where hunters are limited to taking only bearded birds, fall hunters may harvest birds of either sex.
The fall season does attract considerably fewer hunters. And, this may play a significant role in hunter success.
Director’s Hunt openings available
There’s still time to sign up for the annual Illinois Conservation Foundation Director’s Hunt at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area in southern Illinois. The two-day controlled pheasant and quail hunt – co-sponsored by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever – is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 20-21.
Hunting will take place on 25 fields at Wayne Fitzgerrell SRA, one of the state’s best venues for upland game and other hunting opportunities.
The ICF Director’s Hunt, to benefit Illinois Conservation Foundation youth hunts and youth conservation education programs, is priced at $275 for individual hunters or $1,000 for a team of four, which includes two hunts, two boxes of steel shot shells for each hunter, plus a guide and dog, if requested.
Registration and sponsorship information is available on the ICF website at www.ilcf.org or by phoning the ICF at (217) 785-2003.
Reach outdoor writer Curt Hicken at firstname.lastname@example.org