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Lots of reasons to talk turkey this spring

Tyler Hall 10 his grandfather Roman Cirignani doubled up turkeys May 2 one many stories from spring 2011 Illinois.

Tyler Hall, 10, and his grandfather Roman Cirignani doubled up on turkeys May 2, one of the many stories from the spring of 2011 in Illinois. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 19, 2011 12:38AM

From double beards to double kills with one shot to a double-down with a grandfather and grandson, turkey tales came in more forms than in any spring I can remember.

My one regret, other than not drawing a permit for turkey hunting this spring, is that I didn’t start a Turkey of the Week feature. The stories and photos were good enough to do TOTW this spring. Wait till next year.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced hunters had reported a preliminary total of 15,121 turkeys. The fifth and final season in the north zone ended Thursday. The top counties were Jo Daviess (534) and Pike (522).

The total harvest was well off the 16,565 turkeys killed last spring, the second-highest ever. The record kill — 16,605 — came in 2006. The downturn is most likely because of the historically wet and cold April.

‘‘This year’s wild-turkey season will probably be best remembered for being the wettest April in recorded history,’’ wild-turkey project manager Paul Brewer said. ‘‘Hunters did well on days when the weather was cooperative, but those days were few and far between.’’

More than the total birds killed, it is the stories that I will remember from 2011. Stories such as Peter Lamar’s stub-bearded, 24-pound gobbler shot in Ogle County and Art LaCroix bagging two jakes with one shot in Jo Daviess County.

Then there is John Coffey of Shorewood. While hunting April 22 in Hancock County, Coffey shot a 24.5-pound tom with spurs of 13/8 inches and a double beard. The main beard was 10.75 inches; the second was 8.5.

Apparently, this is more common than I thought.

‘‘As to turkeys with multiple beards (they can have several, not just two), I wouldn’t put them in the category of ‘rare,’ as it’s not that uncommon,’’ forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton e-mailed. ‘‘Don’t have any firm figures, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was in the range of 1 to
2 percent of adult males (and that may vary with location).’’

The story that most touched my heart was Roman Cirignani of Wood Dale doubling up May 2 with grandson Tyler Hall, 10, of Lake in the Hills.

‘‘This was a great day out,’’ Cirignani e-mailed. ‘‘Our first double together.’’

It was a double of a spring for turkeys.

Places and faces

John Balla of Bartlett took fourth place ($11,500) in the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour tournament on Lake Erie.

Wild things

Readers had a good weekend finding morel mushrooms around Chicago, as indicated by the arriving photos and stories. .  .  . I found many batches of wild asparagus (finally) in ditches along country roads Sunday. .  .  . Some honeysuckle started flowering in the last week.

Stray cast

Radio interviews with Sox pitching coach Don Cooper remind me of kicking rabbits out of briar patches.

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