Morel hunters urged to be aware
The month of April brings all of the signs of spring and with it comes the wonderful pursuit of mushrooms. However, mushrooms aren’t the only thing springing to action in April and early May. Turkey hunters are also trying to match wits with one of the wariest game birds in North America.
Though these two types of hunting activities are entirely different, they share a potential conflict that at best leaves would-be hunters disgruntled, and can also create a very clear and present danger.
Each year, the Illinois Conservation Police receive numerous complaints of trespassing and interference by mushroom hunters. Nothing can be more frustrating than for a turkey hunter to be working a nice fat gobbler for two or three hours only to have the bird run off when a mushroom hunter has entered the timber illegally or without courtesy. Worse, a hunter thinks a turkey is making its way toward him and he puts the bead of his gun on the presumed “bird” only at the last minute realizes it is a person.
The problem has become such an issue that the Department of Natural Resources prohibits any activity on its lands open for turkey hunting until after 1 p.m. which is the legal closing hours for hunting turkeys. This rule is in effect until the close of turkey hunting season which this year is May 14, 2009 for the North zone which includes the Central Illinois area.
“People don’t realize the risk they are taking by entering a woods during turkey season unless they have permission and are certain no turkey hunters are present,” stated Sgt. Tim Sickmeyer, District 10 Supervisor for Illinois Conservation Police. A lot of the clothing worn by mushroom hunters can take on the appearance of a male turkey’s head (red, white and blue). Probably one of the worst articles of clothing a person can have during this time period is a red bandana stated Sickmeyer.
Sickmeyer also stated “A lot of people get anxious when “mushroom hunting season” occurs, but they can have a much more enjoyable experience when they take just a few simple steps before they enter the woods.”
Some of the steps to take are: Always get permission before entering private land whether you see it is posted or not. This is not only courteous, it is the law. Ask the landowner if anyone will be turkey hunting on their property. If at all possible, find out who will be turkey hunting and give them a call. A lot of conflicts can be resolved easily with just a phone call. If someone is hunting on the property, then wait until after legal hunting hours are closed which is 1 p.m. Wear bright colored clothes but try to avoid red-white-and-blue combinations.
Following these common sense steps will make everyone’s venture into the outdoors a lot more enjoyable and safer. Good hunting.