Talking turkey in Illinois

Turkey hunting season in Illinois runs for a total of five weeks, but once again, mine was done in less than 60 minutes. To all my critics, yes, I should probably learn to call my own birds rather than rely on my reliable and talented guide/friend, Jeff. But it’s so amazing to sit in the briars on a cool spring morning and listen to him literally “talk turkey.”

For the first time, we had competition from a hen and as I heard her try to lure the toms away from us, I kept thinking, “She sounds almost as authentic as Jeff.” Afterall, I’d heard him replicate more hen calls that I had heard live hen calls. And, since Jeff called the toms away from her, perhaps his turkey talking is more attractive than a live hen.

Both Jeff and I had first season tags, so we hiked out to the blind at 5:15 on opening morning and heard the toms calling before we got settled. As the sun rose and the sky lightened, the birds became more active and we could hear them moving toward us and the decoys set in the field on the edge of the woods. After a little give and take between the hen and Jeff, he finally won the match and four toms strutted out of the woods in full dress. They were like a Roman army with shields up, marching toward the enemy decoy.

On Jeff’s cue (which was supposed to be “ready, aim, fire” but ended up being “ready, fire”) we both pulled our triggers. My bird dropped. His bird started to run and two shots later dropped. In his defense, he was so excited by my shot that he lost site of his own target. Ultimately, the thrill for Jeff is not in filling his own tag, but in calling birds for others and watching us take our birds.

So, for the sake of Jeff’s sport — guiding and calling — I’ll continue to suffer through turkey seasons that are successful in under an hour. He’s just that good.


AKL and Jeff 2013 Turkey Season