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Can You Hunt Your Own Turkey in Cook County?

Turkey illustration
Illustration: John Kenzie

Yes — in theory. Shrinking habitats and hungry settlers eradicated wild turkeys from Cook County around 1910. But thanks to a statewide reintroduction effort begun in the 1950s, the birds returned to the county in 2014. (They didn’t make their way to Chicago until 2017, when one was spotted in a Beverly garden.) But you’re not likely to bag one. There are still just a handful of turkeys here, and while hunters in the rest of the state may use a shotgun, Cook County allows only a bow and arrow. Nailing a bird that way is no small feat, says Luke Garver, wild turkey project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources: “They’re so observant, so alert, and very nervous animals.” Only one has been felled in Cook County in the past two years. A better bet: Head south to Will County, where hunters killed 85 in 2017.

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