Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
deerhead

Marc Anthony of Goodfield owns and operates Look Alive Taxidermy and Non Typical Hunter magazine. Anthony grew up in central Illinois and spent eight years as a commercial pilot before giving that up to spend more time with his wife Jan and three children, Victoria, Drake and Elesa. Anthony hunted on and off as a child but started seriously at age 30 and focuses on bowhunting for deer and turkeys. He's arrowed four bucks that meet the Boone and Crockett Club (net) standards and 20 Pope and Young Club qualifiers. Anthony is on the Pro Staff for Muzzy broadheads, Bear Archery, Vital Gear, Natural Predator, Non Typical Hunter and several other companies. He also is a member of the Outdoor writers Association of America, OWAA.

 

Non-typical Hunter

A Web log by Marc Anthony

Illinois hunting and fishing

Who’s the real chump here?

April 29, 2009 at 01:59 PM

One thing you don’t see as much any more that you used to see, is children with manners. Manners used to be part of the “character building” values parents instilled in their children. When a child grew up with manners, he or she learned to respect other’s ideas, values and property. I grew up with manners and I taught my children to apply good manners to everyone they meet. It’s a shame that some people have reason to believe that people with manners are someone you can take advantage of or ultimately treat like chump soup. People with good manners or solid values are someone you don’t want to treat like chumps and I’ll tell you why.

Individuals who don’t restrain from lashing out at someone in a split second are always going to be known as “hot tempered” and their arguments will carry very little weight with the subjects they are verbal about. On the other hand, people who show restraint from quick judgment are the people who’s comments seem to go a little bit farther than the others. Why? Because of the fact that when these people do speak their opinions with passion, it often is a rare occurrence and deems the respect of the people listening. It deems respect because the listening parties know you have taken the necessary time to think the issues over carefully and have most likely ironed out any deficiencies. I have taken many issues with today’s hunting regulations and have carefully written about such topics in a way I believed would be the fairest to both the people who are affected by them and the people who are responsible for administering them. I’ve taken heat from PSO readers because of my “fair” stance and I’ve taken heat from the DNR because of my harsh responses. That I can take, in fact I appreciate the feedback from both, as long as it is an honest opinion or “value”. Where I draw the line is when I’m being taken as a chump, and I am beginning to feel that our meeting with the DNR was a way of getting us to lessen the heat up a bit. If that is the case, it backfired! A chump I am not.

If there is ever was a time to lay it out on the line, I think now may be the time. I have hunted this state from all perimeters and beyond. I know Illinois’ terrain, weather patterns, game animals and even it’s people. I have studied turkey and whitetail behavior for decades. I know what it takes to grow, track down and harvest big Illinois deer. I have spent more than half of my life hunting and have invested many years of my life in college, enough that I now have earned the title of doctor. I have acquired and read data from other states who have implemented September deer hunting seasons, special hunts and other important changes for the benefit of their hunters and their game. For someone who seemed like they wanted “help” in finding solutions to benefit the deer herd and the hunters of Illinois, well lets just say I was honored to have been asked. It’s obvious now with the proposed December season AND the LWS season, they (DNR) just wanted us there to keep us “toned down”. What a shame! It appears Illinois will lose again.

This last meeting that I, Kevin Chapman, Don Higgins, Brad Brown and Dan Coen attended, was filled with creative and constructive ideas. We all used good manners, respected their opinions and offered anything we could to help. There was enough positive information in that meeting, that if used correctly, would have greatly benefitted our Illinois deer herd and it’s people. Everything we discussed was now shot down! Excuses for not enough data (although I offered to acquire it for them), lack of funds (although Kurt Granberg will get a $40,000 boost to his pension) and DVA’s (using their own stats shows where the problem areas really are), etc. I also want to point something out here. This December hunt was mentioned at the meeting and discussed but was not supposed to be implemented with the LWS. In fact, it was not supposed to be favored in lieu of a September season either. Bottom line, their minds were all made up before we even set foot into the place. It now appears that they were looking for something we would mention that they could “twist” into something more in line with their agenda. That agenda, we’ll never really know what it is.

The DNR really had a chance to give Illinois a new face in the deer management arena. They had a group of dedicated individuals who were all professionals and willing to donate anything they could to save Illinois’ deer herd and their DNR. This December season in addition to the LWS is just a blatant slap in the face for Illinois deer and it’s hunters. Management has truly taken a wrong turn back into the days of “free for all” hunting. Money and politics seem to be the motivator here and as I stated before, it may very well be “Business as usual”. To our new DNR, I’m not taking any more heat for you until you start creating and implementing new regulations, the same that other states are using, to benefit our deer herd and our hunters. It’s time to stop selling bits and pieces of Illinois off to the highest bidder. The slaughter of deer in areas that don’t need it. The tens of thousands of non resident permits that are sold is a gross abuse of our natural resources. The lack of doe harvesting in areas that need it the most is irresponsible. The incomprehensible denial of current data from other states is truly selfish. Is there anyone in the DNR with the testicular fortitude to stand up and do what’s right?

They say the difference between a fool and a Wiseman is: “A fool learns from his mistakes and a Wiseman learns from a fools mistakes”. Is Illinois going to learn from the mistakes of the other states or are they going to learn from their own?

So who’s the real chump here?

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Illinois hunting and fishing

When it’s time to shut up.

April 27, 2009 at 06:08 PM

With turkey season in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to go over some common mistakes. One of those mistakes is over calling. Over calling can and will cost you that big ole’ tom. New and old hunters alike seem to think aggressive calling will ultimately get that bird in front of you. Not so. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, this statement holds a lot a water.

I have hunted turkeys in the Midwestern states and many of the southern states for several decades. I remember an old timer telling me once, when I was an aggressive young man, to just throw a couple of yelps out there and be quiet for the rest of the morning. He said in an hour or so, you’ll get a tom. I said back to him politely “Oh really”? But in reality, I was thinking “This old timer doesn’t get it”. After some conversation and a short trip back to his home, I noticed his wall was full of long beards! I then said to myself “Obviously, this old dude gets it”.

Now I’m an old dude, so listen up. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to hunt with many people and in many places. I was amazed how most hunters who hunt turkeys call like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, it stinks if you don’t get any action but throwing away a hunt is a whole different story. One of the methods I’ve written about is called “dry calling” and dry calling does require a more aggressive calling pattern. What I’m referring to here is when a tom answers back to your call. 

In the real world, a hen will not call very much at all. In most cases, the gobblers will not be roosted far from the hens, so when a hen needs to yelp, she usually just yelps a few times and that’s it. When hunting these thunder throats, the object is to first locate the gobbler. If you can’t do it visually, then getting a tom to answer your call is the next best thing. If you can get a big boy to answer you back, just answer him back once and then shut up…period! Many times they’ll come in quiet from then on, so when you continue to call, you are just giving him a “homing” device to track you down with. These turkeys are so keen, they know exactly where that call came from and they’ll come in if they’re not with another hen, etc. When they come in, they’ll come to the general area they heard the call from. Even when doing that, they very rarely do a “bee-line” to the caller unless the caller is still carrying on with his/her yelps. They usually come in circling. They circle so they can have time to look for the hen that was calling. If you continue to call, they can now find you instead. You want them to find your bow or your gun, not you.

Another issue that seems to happen all too often is calling too soon. You can’t call like a hen when it’s just turning light out. Birds will not fly off of the roost and on to the ground when it’s still a little dark. Predators like coyotes will attack them if it’s not light enough and they just won’t do it.  If you call too early, they know something is up. Wait it out.

I’ve hunted for many years without the use of turkey decoys, in fact, I don’t even think they were legal to use when I first started hunting turkeys. My point is there are many ways to hunt them successfully without the use of decoys. Without going into all of these ways, I would like to mention one concept that you can apply to many methods. You may have read one of my earlier articles where I mentioned the “peak-a-boo” method. The peek-a-boo works because the gobbler can’t find the hen, so he gets curious. It’s his curiosity that gets his torso in your crock-pot! If you hunt slightly hilly terrain, it works perfect. It works like this: Locate the bird, get him to respond to your call. Once that happens, make sure you get positioned behind a small hill. When he comes to look for you, he won’t see a hen (or a decoy), so he’ll continue farther. Most of the toms will hang up and not pursue the hen any further since they can’t see the hen, but because the terrain is hilly, it “justifies” the reason he can’t see the hen, so he continues. If the ground is flat, he’ll get nervous and head back where he came from because the flat ground gives him reason to “see” and if he can’t see the bird, he knows something is up. So when he continues on to peek over the hill, that’s right, he sees a big ole’ gun or bow staring at him, in which you say “peek-a-boo” and let him have it.

Of course, if you do decide to use a decoy, you can eliminate a lot of the other issues associated with hunting without a decoy. Decoy hunting has an excitement all of its own.

Bottom line, be cool and relaxed when hunting turkeys. Call very little and concentrate on a good position to take the bird. Be patient and enjoy the morning. Sooner or later, that tom will come your way if you have the the time and the weather on your side!

The above picture is from Connie Davenport. Connie took this monster bird weighing in at 25 pounds. This tom had and 11” beard and 1 1/8-inch hooked spurs!
Nice job Connie!

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Springtime = a Cracker Jack box!

April 23, 2009 at 07:51 PM

Wow, I love springtime! It’s like life started all over again. Trees are budding, the sounds of new birds arriving and animals are out and about. Springtime is like a mental regeneration. You can only take so much winter then it’s “enough is enough”.

Today was one of those days where springtime was at its best! In the woods at 5:00 a.m. with some friends pursuing the ever echoing, always elusive thunder throat. Although I was the one calling for some friends, it was still an exciting time anticipating the “break of the roost”. Once everyone was set up, we patiently waited for the sky to lift it’s windows shades. At that point, I noticed 3 baby raccoons scuttle by me at around 20 MPH in route to their favorite tree. Across the way, I noticed a deer was coming by me at a snails pace. I was just standing next to a tree, like I usually do when I hunt deer or turkey, when he (I say “he” because now I can see his head) trickled right by me, close enough for me to see the big knobs beginning to grow on his head. I was thinking at that point, “Man, I can’t wait to see him in the fall”! As he continues his daily stroll, totally fluid like, he then disappeared into the shadows of the gully below. From there, more birds are waking up as the different sounds leak from the timber. Time to play the waiting game.

Crack of dawn.

After waiting for what I consider the optimum time to call, I threw out some soft purrs and clucks. After glassing the tree tops for several minutes, I noticed a roosted hen about 50 yards from me at the 12:00 position. 20 minutes later I tossed out a small series of soft yelps. Waiting as to not seem over zealous, it was time for some purrs. Bingo! That did it. The woods echoed with authority. One yelp back and I didn’t say another word (word?) the rest of the morning. I could hear in the distance, the sound of mass hitting the ground. Although I knew at least one bird was 60 yards away, I didn’t know how many there were. 10 minutes later…..I’m up to my knees in turkeys, literally! 4 birds standing within 10 yards and one of them I could have grabbed by the neck…really! Since I’m the caller, and the shooters are another 40 yards away, I’m very careful not to breath or show any sign of movement.

The hunt is on baby!

The big ole’ toms hang out with me not knowing how close to death they really are. At this point, I’m almost ready to pass out from both the excitement and the lack of oxygen from not breathing! “If I could only take a deep breath without showing movement”, I was thinking to myself. Finally all 4 birds trickle away from me into a staging area about 20 yards away. It was really neat watching them in this staging area as not too many people (including myself) get a chance to see this from this angle. They just stood there waiting behind a bush until one of them felt it was safe enough to head towards the decoy, which was about 50 yards away. After some turkey discussion, one of them must have said “I’m not scared to go out there dude, watch me”, and off he went. With much apprehension, the other 3 decided it was time to show that they were indeed “tough” also. It took me about 2 solid minutes to get my head turned around without being noticed, when the first “brave” one walked within 40 yards of the first cannon.

The silence was broken!

Nothing but flames and copper screaming out of a 10 gauge hole commanded the sleep of the first bird. Then the report, another Remington SP10 launching from the other direction, made sure these big boys were never going to have to fight each other for a hen ever again. The other 2, well, lets just say they looked like Barney Fife trying to act brave until they were confronted. They couldn’t get out of that war zone fast enough!

On the way home, what do ya know? Mushrooms in my yard! Oh yes, spring has sprung and never a dull moment. It’s like Cracker Jack box full of surprises!

For those of you who are counting down the days to bow season, remember you have a lot to do before October gets here. It’s not all work either! You’ve got to get through turkey season, mushroom season, deer stand building season, food plot season, scout season, bow and arrow practice season, etc.  Nothing like a new season to rekindle your attitude!

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