``I wish I had the story about the 30 lbs Tom that came in with both beards dragging in the mud and sparks flying off his spurs when he stepped on the rocks, but it didn't happen,'' e-mailed faithful reader John Vician after a youth hunt with his son. ``All the birds we saw were still grouped up out in the middle of fields, 25 to 30 in both groups.''
He may be on to one explanation for the drop in turkeys bagged during the two youth turkey seasons in Illinois. Reported harvest dropped to 617 from the 638 last year.
But forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton noted that was an increase over 2006 and 2007 (525 and 579, respectively).
The youth hunt in the south zone, held the last weekend in March, had a higher harvest of 254 than the 244 last year. But north zone youth hunt, held Saturday and Sunday, dropped to 363 from 394 in 2008.
The top five counties in the north were Calhoun (23), Fulton (21), Cass (19), Pike (19), and Adams (17). Top five counties in the south were Jefferson (21), Wayne (21), Williamson (19), Randolph (17), and Johnson (12).
If I get the time and figure out how to do it artfully, I will add the complete county by county breakdown.