Illinois Turkey Season Underway

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Illinois' popular spring wild turkey hunting seasons are underway with expectations for good opportunity for turkey hunters in the state.

The state's Youth Spring Wild Turkey Season was conducted in the South Zone last weekend (March 29-30) and will be held in the North Zone this weekend (April 5-6). The regular Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Seasons began on April 7 in the South Zone and will begin on April 14 in the North Zone.

Hunters in Illinois harvested 14,767 wild turkeys during the 2007 spring seasons, compared with the record-setting spring turkey harvest of 16,607 in 2006.

According to IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton, turkey brood surveys conducted last summer indicated poor reproduction, particularly in southern and west-central Illinois, so the number of jakes this year will be down somewhat. On a more positive note, reproductive success was better during 2006, so the number of 2-year old birds should be good. These two year olds contribute substantially to the amount of gobbling (and tend to be not as elusive as older birds), so they are an important component of the harvest and should help boost season numbers.

Mushroom collectors and other visitors to state parks, fish and wildlife areas, and other IDNR-managed sites with spring turkey hunting programs are reminded that hunting areas are closed to activities other than turkey hunting from one-half hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. daily during the spring turkey season. The turkey hunting area restrictions are in place for the safety of site visitors and hunters.

Successful turkey hunters must register their harvest by 3 p.m. on the same calendar day as the turkey is taken by going to the online check-in system at or by calling toll-free at 1-866-ILCHECK (1-866-452-4325).

2008 Illinois Spring Turkey Hunting Data

Turkey Hunting Zones: The North Zone includes that portion of Illinois north of Crawford, Jasper, Effingham, Fayette, Bond and Madison counties. The South Zone includes the remainder of the state.

2008 South Zone Spring Turkey Season Dates:
1st Season Monday, April 7 - Friday, April 11
2nd Season Saturday, April 12 - Thursday, April 17
3rd Season Friday, April 18 - Wednesday, April 23
4th Season Thursday, April 24 - Wednesday, April 30
5th Season Thursday, May 1 - Thursday, May 8

2008 North Zone Spring Turkey Season Segment Dates:
1st Season Monday, April 14 - Friday, April 18
2nd Season Saturday, April 19 - Thursday, April 24
3rd Season Friday, April 25 - Wednesday, April 30
4th Season Thursday, May 1 - Wednesday, May 7
5th Season Thursday, May 8 - Thursday, May 15

Turkey Bag Limit: One male turkey (gobbler) or one hen with a visible beard per permit. Individual hunters may take no more than three turkeys, and must have a valid permit for each turkey taken.

Hunting Area: Illinois Turkey Hunting Permits are issued for a specific county or hunting area and are valid only in the county or hunting area designated on the permit. Permission to hunt on private property must be obtained from the property owner or tenant.

Turkey Hunting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. during each day of the season.