Second Season Success in Illinois

on April 30, 2020

By Jonathan Haverkamp

It is the opening week of season here in Illinois and everyone is starting to harvest birds except me, I have to wait one more week for the second season to open so I can try my luck. I'm focusing on getting my gear ready for my “opening day” and scouting as much as possible to try and get the drop on the birds. The night before I’m set to open for the season, I head to the farm to try and roost the birds for the next day's hunt. After about an hour of glassing a few small fields and hiking I was able to see two toms in the first field a few hundred yards out and I watch them head off to roost. Feeling optimistic about our chances I head back to the house to try and catch some z’s and make final preparations for the hunt. It's April 11, the second season opener and my alarm is buzzing 4:30 am, and I gather the rest of my gear in the truck and wait on my hunting partner to get to my house. He shows up and we take off to the farm and discuss the game plan for the day. We come up with what we think is a pretty solid plan for the morning hunt, gear up and head out. We get settled in close to where I saw the birds the night before and we wait for the first gobble. About 30 minutes go by and a nearby train horn gets the first bird to wake up on his roost several hundred yards away, being it is still early I wait a few minutes before I let out an owl hoot to locate the birds near us.

Illinois Turkey

About 5:45 used the owl hooter and we had what sounded like three toms hammering to the south and east of us, one sounding within 75 yards, that is the bird that I was going to focus on for the morning. Once they start gobbling on their own I start calling on my Carnage pot call, getting a response right out of the gate. As my calling sequence continues this Tom cuts me off at the end of each cadence and I call enough to keep him interested. Finally a little after six, we can tell this bird has hit the ground and was getting closer to us but we still couldn't see him, then finally he walks up the service road and is slowly headed our direction. As I give him some quiet yelps on my split V mouth call I grab his attention and he swells up and looks our way. In what seems like forever he is strutting and working towards us and he finally makes it to the decoys. I let him work within 15 yards and it was over, the Carlson/TSS combo did the trick and laid him out. Just like that the plan came together perfectly and we had a mature bird on the ground before 6:30.

The Walk out!

What made this hunt special is seeing all my hard work before the season come full circle, I had been running trail cams, Mowing fields, and even conducting a small prescribed burn, all to try and increase my chances at harvesting a turkey this season and it paid off in a big way. Not even that but I was able to share the experience with a good friend and he was able to capture it all on film for us to enjoy for years to come. This hunt taught me that it isn't all about the kill, but it is about the experience you have in the field that leads up to the moment of truth. Now I get to wait the rest of the second season and hopefully hit the woods again for seasons three and four hoping to harvest two more toms before the close of the 2020 spring season.