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charliebravo77
Jun 11, 2003



Crosspostttttt

Went on my first IL deer hunt in like 4 or 5 years this past weekend. Drove down to east-central IL and stayed with a friend who just bought a house nearby the public site I had a muzzleloader tag for. IL does a December muzzleloader-only season after the "firearm" (shotgun, some handguns and muzzleloader) season is over and it's usually a slower paced but more difficult hunt since the deer are moving more nocturnal. I took a half day Thursday, drove to the range to finish zeroing in my T/C Impact then drove downstate. My state biologist friend had explored the area a bit before and gave me a couple OnX pin suggestions on where to set up so I didn't need to do any scouting beforehand. Got out Friday morning for opening and settled down on a hillside overlooking a river bottom. This site and general area of the state was very appealing to me as it has what passes for actual topography in the state.

Contour lines!


As the sun came up I noticed there were squirrels everywhere. If I had a .22 (and it was legal to squirrel hunt during deer season, which it isn't, for reasons) I could have gotten a limit in a matter of minutes. Around 9AM I stood up to stretch my legs and take a look around the area. I walked about maybe 20 yards over to another point of the ridge I was on and glassed around for a minute. I heard what I thought were a few of the dozen squirrels barreling through the brush down in the drainage below but it turned out to be a couple of does running through. They stopped at the water and then ate and drank for a few minutes. I didn't shoot one because A) I was on day 1 B) I had an either-sex tag. I was hoping a buck might have been following them but nothing appeared.





As I was sitting there watching the does I looked off to my side and saw 4 more does walking across another finger at about the same elevation I was at. I don't think I spooked them, but all of a sudden they took off into the timber. The does below me hung around for a few more minutes after that. You can almost make out the other group in this photo, which also shows some of the topography.



At that point it was about 10 and I figured there probably wasn't going to be much more movement until later in the day. I still hunted back to the truck and explored a drainage that had a ton of sign in it. Honestly, there was sign basically everywhere I walked in this site. I got the impression that there were tons of deer and hunters didn't venture very deep often.



Made an Instagram post about this sign and the need to respect closures to hunting on public lands. The anti-hunting public doesn't need more arrows in its quiver and dangerously defacing signs like this doesn't do us any favors. Actually got over 100 likes and a half dozen comments, which is a first for me so maybe it actually resonated with people.


In an uncommonly good mood after seeing deer on day one in IL.


Went back to the truck to make lunch and caffeinate myself. Tastes like melted Haribo cola gummies.


For the afternoon I checked out another recommended spot actually across the road from where I parked. It was a field mixed with prairie grasses, some agriculture remnants and a chunk of timber. I tucked under a tree in the shadows with my little pop up turkey blind and a folding chair. Set my rifle on a tripod with my Outdoorsmans head and V-rest and waited. With about 30 minutes to sunset left I watched two does walk across an opening about 400 yards away on what was probably private land. About 10 minutes later what was clearly a buck, maybe even a 6pt, popped out from the prairie grass about 100 yards from me. I quickly got glass on him and saw that he was actually a forkie. I watched him for a second and played the "do I shoot it?" mental game. I still had two days left, had seen deer in both spots I hunted so far and I figured worst case I could come back and find him again another time. He walked across the field and disappeared into the grass. A few minutes later he reappeared again, this time under 50 yards away. I started to wonder if maybe I should take the shot this time. He walked towards me into handgun range and again, disappeared into the grass.





Feeling pretty hopeful I would find a bigger buck I packed up for the night, grabbed some food in town and went back to where I was staying to go to sleep. It rained all night and when my alarm went off at 4:40AM it was still raining hard enough that I decided I was going to sleep a bit longer and let the rain pass.

With the ground wet I took still hunted into where I was the morning before, using the wet leaves to my advantage to minimize noise while also trying to avoid slipping on the slick muddy ground beneath. Mostly avoided that but still had a couple short slides. Worked back up the drainage I found the day before and came across that was simultaneously a brilliant and astoundingly dangerous looking homemade tree stand.



It was put together with hollow metal extrusions and actually pretty well thought out, except for the lack of any teeth to grip the tree, iffy welds and the questionable looking hardware probably found in a spare parts bin on a workbench. Whoever you are, Brian, you're either very dumb or very brave and I hope you use a harness in that thing. I suspect you don't, though. I initially thought it was a climber, but now looking at the photos again I'm not exactly sure how it's supposed to work since normally you'd have your feet on the lower climber section but the upper one here also has a foot rest. Maybe Brian's some kind of industry innovator and I've got him wrong. Pretty cool paint job on it. I wonder how old it is - definitely has seen some use.















Found the remnants of a homemade rattle call, too.



I made my way back to the overlook where I spotted the does the day before and spent another couple hours waiting to see if anything appeared.





After no signs of deer I wandered over to the ridge where I saw the does before. Immediately found some pretty fresh sign that was probably from the morning.





Not only did I find deer sign but I also found dozens of chewed up acorns in addition to the squirrels chattering overhead. Definitely coming back here in a couple weeks with a .22.



Found a heavily used game trail through the woods. So heavily used they wore down a fallen tree.



Working on another one.



Went back to the forkie spot for the second evening sit. Unfortunately I only spotted the does crossing over on private again, this time just before it was too dark to see. Seemed like they were moving less during the day.

Got back out again the next morning at the same spot hoping for anything to cross within range. Waited a few hours but nothing came by. Walked the field edge hoping to catch a glimpse of an antler tine in the grass but didn't see anything. Found fresh sign again which was probably from overnight.





Shot of the tree I was sitting under at the edge of the field.



Went to check out the non-huntable part of the park before I left for home. I'll definitely be back with a fly rod and canoe to paddle the river and look for smallmouth.



When I parked I noticed a bunch of birds flying around so I swapped muzzleloader for (a bigger) camera.

Female cardinals



Male cardinals


Northern Flicker - this is a new one for me.



Blue jay


Downy woodpecker


All in all it was a great few days out in nature, even if I was again reminded "don't pass up on the first day what you'd be happy to bring home on the last."

Excited to come back to this spot for small game, waterfowl and fishing soon.

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Verman
Jul 4, 2005
Third time is a charm right?


I went up with a buddy for late season blue grouse in the snow. He's been wanting to get up to this location in the winter for a long time to see if the grouse are up there this time of year. The last time we were up there, we saw a cinnamon bear and a cub and I got the only grouse we saw with one shot.

Yesterday we saw a ton of rabbit tracks and one grouse track but no birds. Either way it was a nice day in the mountains and my dog is dead tired do that's always a success.





Chaosfeather
Nov 4, 2008



charliebravo77 posted:

Downy woodpecker


All in all it was a great few days out in nature, even if I was again reminded "don't pass up on the first day what you'd be happy to bring home on the last."

Excited to come back to this spot for small game, waterfowl and fishing soon.

Love your stories and presentation! And you know I have a soft spot for critter photos. Shame that buck didn't invite his older friends but you've got a good spot with lots of potential in the future!

Verman posted:

I went up with a buddy for late season blue grouse in the snow. He's been wanting to get up to this location in the winter for a long time to see if the grouse are up there this time of year. The last time we were up there, we saw a cinnamon bear and a cub and I got the only grouse we saw with one shot.

Yesterday we saw a ton of rabbit tracks and one grouse track but no birds. Either way it was a nice day in the mountains and my dog is dead tired do that's always a success.


I'd love to see more grouse in here. We don't have any in my immediate area and they look like such a cool variety of birds. At least the outing was fun!

EvilJoven
Mar 18, 2005


Fun Shoe

A buddy of mine and I are both pretty much giving up on grouse for the season and switching to ice fishing now that the cold is here to stay. Aside from that first day where I got one on my bike we haven't seen anything. A few bird tracks and lots of rabbit but nothing. Lots of ticks this year and the Martin population is high right now so it probably put lots of pressure on small game.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


That pretty impressive, how many people can say they caught a fish while biking?

Verman
Jul 4, 2005
Third time is a charm right?


Outrail posted:

That pretty impressive, how many people can say they caught a fish while biking?

Probably this guy

EvilJoven
Mar 18, 2005


Fun Shoe

Outrail posted:

That pretty impressive, how many people can say they caught a fish while biking?

Uhhhhh.... Me

crazypeltast52
May 5, 2010




Nice tent. I bought a used one that was the right price, but it may find a new home if I upgrade next year.

tesilential
Nov 22, 2004

You're a credit to your community!

EvilJoven posted:

Uhhhhh.... Me



Holy poo poo! Never imagined ice fishing could be so crowded.


Awesome hunt post, Charliebravo77!!


I just done with the live fire hunters safety course and I can finally purchase my licenses and go hunt! Now to find a duck gun in stock locally....

EvilJoven
Mar 18, 2005


Fun Shoe

I'm p sure those are all friends in the foreground and we wanted to be within chatting distance but there are some spots where it definitely gets super crowded.

There's a reason why having someone drill a hole 20' next to you is being called Getting Lockported and it's because that happens all the loving time just down river from the dam in Lockport.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


EvilJoven posted:

Uhhhhh.... Me



charliebravo77
Jun 11, 2003



tesilential posted:

Awesome hunt post, Charliebravo77!!


I just done with the live fire hunters safety course and I can finally purchase my licenses and go hunt! Now to find a duck gun in stock locally....
Thanks!
Good luck with waterfowl. Do you have someone taking you out? Ducks and geese are some of the hardest hunting to get into as a newbie just due to the gear requirement.

Tangentially related to hunting, my wife asked me earlier if we could go on vacation to Maine next year.

quote:

Maine supports the most extensive distribution and abundance of wild brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in their native range within the United States

Well, I guess we can go if you insist....

EvilJoven
Mar 18, 2005


Fun Shoe

Just gotta say goose chili is incredible.

Not gonna bother with a pic because it's just a wad of meat and beans in a microwave container.

tangy yet delightful
Sep 13, 2005





Cross-posting for boot advice:

tangy yet delightful posted:

I am starting to look at getting new boots for hunting, my 9 year old Vasque Men's Taku GTX boots need to be replaced for a variety of reasons (didn't take great care of them, sole worn down, need better waterproofness for PNW).

Thoughts on criteria:
- Hunting in the PNW climate, which mainly means I want something that can be rained on for 8 hours without letting the water get to my feet, probably means goretex stuff?
- High ankle support, my ankles are poo poo.
- I'll be about a size 11 and my feet are pretty normal shape with a somewhat flat arch so likely any normal boot shape will work.
- REI purchasable would be nice but not required.

What say you?

Chaosfeather
Nov 4, 2008



Chaosfeather posted:

For CA's stuff, here's what you need tags vs no tags for:

Tags - Draw
Bighorn Sheep
Deer (Mule deer, blacktail deer)
Elk (any subspecies)
Pronghorn Antelope

Tags - OTC
Bear (Black bear)
Leftover Deer (after the draw)
Wild Pig

Upland Bird Validation Covers:
Band-tailed Pigeon
Chukar
Dove ( Eurasian Collared, Mourning, Ringed turtle-dove, Spotted, White-winged)
Greater Sage-Grouse (currently closed, check seasons in the future)
Pheasant
Quail (Bobwhite, California, Gambel's, Mountain has a separate season)
Snipe
Sooty/Blue/Ruffled Grouse
White-tailed Ptarmigan
Wild Turkey

Federal Duck Stamp and California Waterfowl Validation required for
American Coot
Common Moorhen
Duck (check species)
Geese
Scaup

Just the license
American Crow (Strict rules, read first)
Aoudad
Badger
Beaver
Coyote (Note: In Northern California Grey wolves are starting to come back to the state and are protected. If in this area be very sure of your target before you shoot)
Feral Goat
Grey fox
Hare
Invasive Deer (Fallow, Sambar, Sika, Axis deer, during deer season in the region)
Jackrabbit
Mink
Moles (Check species)
Mouflon
Muskrat
Opossum
Rabbit
Raccoon
Rodents (Check species)
Skunk
Tahr
Tree Squirrel (Check the legal zones!)
Weasel

Fishing license required for take
Desert Iguana
Frogs (Bullfrog and others, check)
Lizards (Check, too many to list)
Rattlesnake (Mojave, Panamint, Sidewinder, Speckled, Western, Western Diamond-backed)
Salamanders (Check - newts are classified here under the law?)
Snakes (Check, too many to list)
Toad (Great Basin, Great Plains, Red-spotted, Western, Woodhouse)
Turtle (Painted Turtle, Pond Slider, Spiny Softshell only)

Depending on where you hunt you'll also need a pass for a state-operated hunting area (such as grizzly island). So please purchase that ahead of time! You can get individual day passes or seasonal.

For birds you probably need to 'purchase' the free HIP validation and fill out the survey as well.
Crossposting because maybe this will help someone!

Good luck on the boots. I just went for some small hiking boots with some water resistance and I've been very happy with my little wolverines.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


What's your budget for boots? How cold are you looking to go?

tangy yet delightful
Sep 13, 2005





Outrail posted:

What's your budget for boots? How cold are you looking to go?

Well it looks like boots are in the $100-350 range but if for some reason the perfect boot is more let me know. I doubt I'll be hunting colder than 32 with these boots and I size/pair my boots with injiji toe socks and smartwool outer socks. For reference my old boots with this setup I was pretty warm in them in the 30-40 temp range even with sitting waiting around for deer.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


FWIW I've always been a fan of Scarpa's footwear.

Something like Kinesis Pro GTX, Kailash or Grand Dru GTX might be in budget if there's a discount. They've got pretty good reviews and I'll probably be looking at one of them when my current boots wear out.

DapperDraculaDeer
Aug 4, 2007

Shut up, Nick! You're not Twilight.

I don't own a pair but Crispi Idahos sounds like a pretty close match. I've seen them discounted to within your price range recently too. I was looking at them real hard but decided to go with a cheaper flatland boot and although I'm happy with my Danners for huntingn here in Texas those Crispis be would probably be real nice to have when Igo elsewhere.

charliebravo77
Jun 11, 2003



Chased a bunch of dogs around today at a Hunting Retriever Club training event. Took 2300 photos so I'm sure there will be more eventually, but here's a couple good ones. Jet black dogs on bright white snow in waist high brush was challenging to shoot in. Most of them look like this:



Better:



charliebravo77
Jun 11, 2003



Here's some more of the better ones. I want a lab now.





























CarpenterWalrus
Mar 30, 2010

The Lazy Satanist


I'm finally ready to start actually firing arrows with my bow! The question I have is what size and weight of arrow should I be using for small game such as rabbit and squirrel? I'm using a 45#, 58" recurve bow. I'll be using blunt arrow heads. I won't actually be shooting at game until next season, but want to start practicing now. Any help is appreciated!

CarpenterWalrus fucked around with this message at 16:19 on Jan 25, 2021

CarpenterWalrus
Mar 30, 2010

The Lazy Satanist


charliebravo77 posted:

Crosspostttttt

Went on my first IL deer hunt in like 4 or 5 years this past weekend. Drove down to east-central IL and stayed with a friend who just bought a house nearby the public site I had a muzzleloader tag for. IL does a December muzzleloader-only season after the "firearm" (shotgun, some handguns and muzzleloader) season is over and it's usually a slower paced but more difficult hunt since the deer are moving more nocturnal. I took a half day Thursday, drove to the range to finish zeroing in my T/C Impact then drove downstate. My state biologist friend had explored the area a bit before and gave me a couple OnX pin suggestions on where to set up so I didn't need to do any scouting beforehand. Got out Friday morning for opening and settled down on a hillside overlooking a river bottom. This site and general area of the state was very appealing to me as it has what passes for actual topography in the state.


Those are great pics! I grew up in/around the Decatur area, so this definitely looks familiar. Were you out by Fox Ridge?

FYI, you included Brian's last name in the pics of his stand, and may want to edit that out if you post these pics elsewhere.

charliebravo77
Jun 11, 2003



CarpenterWalrus posted:

Those are great pics! I grew up in/around the Decatur area, so this definitely looks familiar. Were you out by Fox Ridge?

Thanks! Not Decatur, near Danville, though I can see the similarities to Fox Ridge.

HamAdams
Jun 29, 2018

yospos


Anybody got any exciting hunts planned for the next year? If all goes well, I'll be going on a rifle mule deer hunt in Wyoming this October, which will be new and exciting for me.

Chaosfeather
Nov 4, 2008



That would be awesome! Hope the stars align in your favor or whatever voodoo needs to happen for that to work out.

I'm going to try to do spring turkey this season. I just got my schedule so I should have 2 days a week that I can do it, and both are weekdays. Hopefully that will avoid the crowds. We'll see how well or poorly I do, but last time even though I didn't do a great job and came home empty handed I had a wonderful set of mornings.

I always apply for a nice mule deer CA tag, but I have yet to get an X zone or the Mojave draw. I hope to apply for that again this year and try for San Diego zone again as a plan C.

I also would like to try to get back to NE for the whitetail/mule deer hunt and harvest something this year.

As usual I apply to at least 2 states for bull elk, but I know that's going to likely be a long wait. I'm also planning on either applying for a Pronghorn tag or just taking a point in WY for next year.

Now that I have my own rifle I am extremely excited to get out there and do more hunts more aggressively. I plan on having the stock customized to my size this spring so it'll be more than ready for when fall comes around.

Ophidian
Jan 12, 2005

Woo WOO, Look a Parrot...
LOOK AT IT!


Plans in place:
PA for turkey and trout in May
Archery whitetail in NJ

Hopes/dreams: first out west hunt for either antelope or mule deer.

Iíll be super happy if the first two work out but everything seems to be falling into place so far.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


I think I've found a mate who's as inexperienced at hunting and eager to waste weekends in the mountains as I am. Trying encourage him to get his license. Gonna drag him out looking for muleys and elk.

In all honesty if I get any large game aside from a whitetail doe I'll be completely stoked (turkeys are large game imo). But if I just get a whitetail doe I won't lose any sleep.

DapperDraculaDeer
Aug 4, 2007

Shut up, Nick! You're not Twilight.

HamAdams posted:

Anybody got any exciting hunts planned for the next year? If all goes well, I'll be going on a rifle mule deer hunt in Wyoming this October, which will be new and exciting for me.

Sleep has been in short supply at our household so hunting has been super hit or miss this season. Oddly, this actually makes it much easier to go on out of state hunts where things are planned in advance, extra help with the kid is lined up, etc. So my two big projects for the year ahead are finally making it out to Wyoming for spring black bear and then Nebraska in the late fall. Nebraska in particular will be exciting since hopefully well have a proper 4x4 to bring along, allowing us to greatly expand the areas we get back into. Im also hoping to take a first crack at spring turkey this year, just getting out there and getting an idea of what its like would be a great first step.

Mzuri
Jun 5, 2004

Who's the boss?
Dudes is lost.
Don't think coz I'm iced out,
I'm cooled off.

I just want to say that my wife has gotten on board the "let's get a dog" programme run by myself and the kids, so we're getting a retreiver from a reputable breeder in our town later this year. Hell yeah

Chaosfeather
Nov 4, 2008



Mzuri posted:

I just want to say that my wife has gotten on board the "let's get a dog" programme run by myself and the kids, so we're getting a retreiver from a reputable breeder in our town later this year. Hell yeah

Excellent! I'm super excited to internet-meet your new pup and see pictures. That dog is gonna have so much fun with you folks.

DapperDraculaDeer
Aug 4, 2007

Shut up, Nick! You're not Twilight.

If anyone is looking for a deal on men's hunting pants, Sierra has a smoking deal on FirstLite's Guide Light pants. $50 for these is pretty wild. Usually the selection of sizes at Sierra is pretty limited but this time around they have the pants in just about every common men's size. https://www.sierra.com/first-lite-guide-lite-camo-pants-for-men~p~33vhd/?filterString=promostyles~214154%2F

Ophidian
Jan 12, 2005

Woo WOO, Look a Parrot...
LOOK AT IT!


DapperDraculaDeer posted:

If anyone is looking for a deal on men's hunting pants, Sierra has a smoking deal on FirstLite's Guide Light pants. $50 for these is pretty wild. Usually the selection of sizes at Sierra is pretty limited but this time around they have the pants in just about every common men's size. https://www.sierra.com/first-lite-guide-lite-camo-pants-for-men~p~33vhd/?filterString=promostyles~214154%2F

Yoink

HamAdams
Jun 29, 2018

yospos


I'm looking to pick up some new mouth calls for spring turkey, any recommendations? I liked the rocky mountain calls I had in the past, and I'm thinking of maybe picking up a couple woodhaven calls.

Gooch181
Jan 1, 2008

The Gooch

I want to get a Spring gobbler. I have a slate call and have been practicing with it and feel pretty good about basic calling with it. I have a diaphragm call that I can kind of use. My uncle is going to loan me a decoy. I plan on picking up a full choke and was looking at the HEVI-shot one and there are options for different constrictions. For example, midwayusa has in stock the .664", .667", and .676" constriction models; Are the effects of these highly variable or is it a negligible difference?

I figure if I get a choke and manage to find some turkey shells, the last hurdle is getting onto some gobbler turf and not dicking it up if I find one. Would love to be as prepared as possible and welcome any and all advice. I'm studying the turkey section in the meateater guidebook and watching youtube videos from callers; any other resources I should consider? I plan to start scouting next week.

HamAdams
Jun 29, 2018

yospos


There's a ton of good youtube channels for turkey hunting that are starting to ramp up again as spring turkey approaches. The hunting public is the big one, catman outdoors, shane simpson, and the pinhoti project are all good ones too.

I don't have much advice for chokes, but just be sure to pattern your gun before going out. You might find that your combination of choke and shell don't work well together.

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Gooch181
Jan 1, 2008

The Gooch

HamAdams posted:

There's a ton of good youtube channels for turkey hunting that are starting to ramp up again as spring turkey approaches. The hunting public is the big one, catman outdoors, shane simpson, and the pinhoti project are all good ones too.

I don't have much advice for chokes, but just be sure to pattern your gun before going out. You might find that your combination of choke and shell don't work well together.

I'll check those, thanks. Definitely plan on buying extra shells for patterning, assuming I can find some. I was considering grabbing these calls: Calling all turkeys.

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