Morel Heaven!

Here in Northern Illinois, Morel mushrooms are starting to pop. We found these beauties inmorels
the woods just a few miles from home. Enough for a couple of meals and they were delicious!

Everyone likes to share their theories on how to find these elusive delights and the most delicious recipes. During the height of season, talk can be heard every which way you turn.

Experts say they can be found around certain trees, when the temperature outside is getting warmer and when the soil is above 60 degrees. If you’ve been hunting Morels for a while now, you know these tidbits are true, to a point. But, morels can be found in places you wouldn’t normally expect as well. My point: never give up the hunt! They can be right around the corner, just keep looking.

Interested in seeing where Morels have been found so far this year? Check out this map.

For more information on finding your own secret supply of Morels, visit Field & Stream’s website.

The beginning of the end of another Illinois turkey season

In the turkey blind - that's a decoy!

In the turkey blind – that’s a decoy!

2016-04-23 06.29.19

The ones that got away.

This is the last week of Spring Turkey Hunting Season in Illinois. As a landowner, I have the privilege of hunting all five seasons — an entire five weeks to bundle up in camouflage, sit in the pre-dawn woods, and wait for toms to appear. Actually, in all my years of hunting, I’ve never needed five weeks, I’ve barely needed more than an hour.

Since “restocking” wild turkeys throughout Illinois (an initiative that spanned from the 1970’s to 2003), the critters have been abundant on our farms. Because they are so abundant, a successful hunt is simply a matter of scouting in the evening and then the next morning, following a modified version of advice from hockey’s Wayne Gretzky: “skate to where the puck is going to be.” Yep, it’s that easy, “hunt where the bird is going to be.”

Using this advice, again this year, I brought down a 23.4 lb tom and had two beautiful packages of turkey breasts in the freezer in time to make an 8:00am appointment in town. And thus ends another season of spring turkey hunting.


End of Summer Jobs

As the summer is winding down and the kids are going back to school, we are all trying to cram in those last few projects. Tell us about the “Tough Jobs” you still need to tackle.

Tough jobs are easier with the right tools.

Mowing with the Woods Mow’n Machine is even fun.

Just submit the form below and we’ll try to feature them over the next few weeks. What a great way to help others learn from your experiences or gather suggestions on the best way to get those projects checked off your list.

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

“A bow for everyone”

It’s official, I’m a bow hunter! Well, at least a bow owner. I guess I can’t really claim “hunter” status until I spend hours in a tree stand and release an arrow on a whitetail.

Last night, my husband Tommy took me to Indian Trail Archers to test a few bows and I settled in on a Mission by Mathews Craze, which they market as “a bow for everyone.” It’s nothing fancy; it’s a solid, affordable bow for a first-timer. Tommy’s an avid bow hunter and Terry at the archery shop is excellent at fitting bows, so in no time, we had my bow sighted in and I was grouping arrows at 30 yards. I’m hooked!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be honing my archery skills to get ready for the season and, we’ll be putting in food plots to draw those trophy bucks out of the woods. I’m told that few things in life match the excitement of spotting that first buck from your tree stand. My new bow, just put me that much closer to the thrill.