Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Turkey numbers decline slightly

Springfield – The state’s turkey hunters did about as good as
expected, given the rainy spring and what state biologists call a
few years of bad reproduction.

During the five week-long seasons, hunters shot a total of
15,488 turkeys, which was down slightly from the 2008 spring
harvest of 15,792.

The 2009 harvest was well below the state’s record turkey
harvest of 16,605 in 2006.

This spring, north zone hunters shot 9,135 birds, down from
9,505 in 2008. The top five north zone counties were: Jo Daviess,
612; Pike, 549; Adams, 421; Fulton, 417; and Macoupin, 351.

South zone hunters took 6,353 birds, compared to 6,287 in 2008.
The top five south zone counties were: Jefferson, 363; Randolph,
352; Pope, 332; Marion, 329; and Wayne, 325.

“Given the poor turkey reproduction during the past few years,
and wet weather through much of the spring, our turkey harvest
totals are expected,” Paul Shelton, forest wildlife program
manager, said. “Our statewide total of 15,488 compares pretty well
with the average of 15,625 for the previous five years.”

Spring hunters battled cool and wet weather from the time the
seasons opened in early April up until the time the seasons ended
in late May.

They did not have to battle one thing that put a damper on the
2008 spring season: a 5.2 earthquake hit last April 18.

“The south zone started out slowly in cool, rainy weather
conditions, but improved over the course of the seasons,” Shelton
said.

Illinois man’s Royal Slam

William “Slim” Boente and several of his buddies are now
considered royalty in the turkey hunting world.

Boente, a 42-year-old construction worker from O’Fallon,
recently completed the Royal Slam of turkey hunting: shooting all
five species of wild turkey – the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s,
Osceola and Gould’s – common to North America.

Boente and four of his turkey hunting buddies traveled to
Chihuahua, Mexico, during the last week of April to hunt the
Gould’s bird, the fifth leg of the Royal Slam. Boente; his brother,
Steve Boente, of O’Fallon; and Joseph Wrigley, of Collinsville, all
completed the Royal Slam.

According to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s records
database, the trio are the 11th, 12th and 13th Illinois hunters to
complete the Royal Slam. Slim Boente, who is president of the
Shiloh Spurs, the local NWTF chapter, traveled to Florida to kill
an Osceola turkey and Kansas for a Rio Grande in 2006. Boente got
his Merriam’s bird in Montana in 2007 to complete a Grand Slam.

Next on the list was the Gould’s wild turkey, which required a
trip across the border into Mexico in late April. Boente used a box
call to coax the Gould’s bird he harvested.

Rod Kloeckner contributed to this story

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