Chicago/ Parks & Nature
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Published on February 24, 2024
Illinois Archers Slightly Increase Wild Turkey Harvest, Marking a Rise Above Five-Year AverageSource: Unsplash/Alex Guillaume

It turns out Illinois archers are rather sharpshooters when it comes to bagging wild turkeys, or so the numbers suggest, with a small bump in the turkey harvest this fall season. In a classic case of 'aim, draw, and release', the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reported that hunters snagged themselves 803 birds during the 2023-2024 season, marking a slight increase from the 801 turkeys harvested in the year prior and cruising past the five-year average of 750, according to the state’s official release.

The appetite for turkey hunting shows no sign of waning, with 25,741 archery permits sold, not counting those handed to landowners that specifically up the tally from 25,373 in the 2022-2023 run, Hunters had from Oct. 1, 2023, to Jan. 14, 2024, to get their feathers, an opportunity available across all 102 counties in the Prairie State.

Interestingly, the gender dynamics at play were slightly more skewed towards male birds this season—54% of the harvest were gobblers compared to last season's more hen-heavy count of 52%—a blend, it seems, in the turkey-gender tango. Meanwhile, gear preference was also tallied with a report showing 63% of hunters preferred the tech-advanced crossbow, while traditionalists made up a mere 1% with their time-honored longbows, nothing like keeping it old school, huh?

As for where hunters might want to set their sights next year, the top five turkey toppling counties were Jefferson, netting 31 birds, Fayette and Jo Daviess tied with 23, followed by Williamson at 18 and Ogle with a neat 17, quite the hotspot for those with an eye for turkey, not to mention a steady hand, according to the state's figures.

For those eager to learn more or maybe even try their hand at archery hunting for turkey, all the information needed can be found with a simple click online with further details on the how and where to get started in Illinois—might be the perfect time to find a new feathered hobby.