Rend Lake’s Wiley Wild Turkey
One bird in America’s woodland epitomized the world “wild” in wildlife. The turkey has a keen sense of sight and hearing. One false move by the hunter and this bird has flown or run into the next county. The wild turkey trusts no living creature. Wrapped up in some of the most beautiful plumage is a high strung bird which is hunted hard by gobbler chasers.
However, the gobbler has one weakness, and that is an affinity for the opposite sex. Their desire to mate with a hen is their biggest vulnerability during the spring hunting season. When the chill of winter is gone and the morel mushrooms are starting to pop up, the tom turkey starts gobbling to announce his territory to other males. Hens begin to show an interest in the gobbler, and with their seductive calling, they will bring immature (jake) and mature male turkeys running to the area. Hunters will use box calls, slate calls, and/or mouth calls to sound like a hen turkey. A well placed jake and hen turkey decoy makes the dominant male turkey mad and he will come running to whip this territorial invading young male.
Rend Lake provides excellent turkey hunting opportunities during the spring. Hunters in Illinois must apply to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for this $15 permit. The applications are drawn in late winter to determine the lucky hunters. The fall shotgun turkey season lasts for seven days during the last week in October. Fall hunters attempt to scatter the flock of young turkeys off the roost before daylight. The hunter will sit at the base of a large tree and try to call in the young poults. It won’t be long until these young birds are calling and trying to regroup. Young turkeys will weigh 8-12 pounds and many hunters consider them one of the best eating wild game birds in the mid-west.
The fall shotgun turkey permit costs $15.00. Fall turkey bow hunting is from October 1 through January 14, except during the fall deer shotgun seasons. A turkey bow permit is available from the local license vendors for $5.50. Many of these young birds are taken during the bow deer season.