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Another turkey season is right around the corner in southern Illinois and after the 2020-2021 waterfowl season I was ready to chase some longboards I thought we had some birds nailed down and I was hopeful to fill some tags in the weeks to come.
Well, opening morning couldn't have gotten off worse start, overslept and got to the field late and the birds were already hammering on the roost. We got set up as close as we could without spooking them but after a few hours of trying to wait them out, they went silent. So we decided to go check some public land areas that had recently had some prescribed fire implemented on them to look for a fresh bird. We were unable to strike any birds up and after breakfast we decided to head back to the farm and try again. Once we arrived back at the farm we didn’t make it 200 yards from the truck and we saw two Toms strutting in the burned area of the food plot. We tried to make a move but a 50 yard belly crawl proved unsuccessful and day one is chalked up as a loss.
Another day, another hunt ended in the same result. We got set up on some gobbling birds and again they went silent, this time trying to make due on the last hunt we set and tried to wait them out. Lesson learned: stay off the phone and watch the decoys because at about 8:00 we had one in the decoys inside 30 yards and couldn’t connect missing three times. At this point I’m Starting to get frustrated with myself, wondering if I’m going to harvest a turkey this season.
The next day, I headed back to the farm solo, to try and get the job done. I decided to change it up and head off into the hardwoods, to try and pull a curious Tom off the roost and into range. Just my luck, they all pitch into the field and leave me stranded in the woods alone to my thoughts. I realized quickly I needed to make a move or they would head to the pines and off the property. With some rolling terrain between me and the birds, I started to make my way towards the field, calling some here and there with gentile yelps and purrs. Finally got to the top of the hill about 50 yards off the field edge, with a group of toms slowly working closer. What felt like an eternity, they worked within range, only to begin to get nervous and start to putt and get nervous. Just as all hope is lost, a single longbeard steps into a gap in the trees and I was able to let some TSS eat, putting him in the dirt.
It would have been easy to just give up on the 2021 season after I batched so many hunts, but by continuing to put in the work and not give up, it helped me harvest my 2021 Long Beard. Just remember, if you are persistent and keep after them, it can make the difference between a bowl of tag soup and a notched tag.
Staffer - Jonathan Haverkamp