Southern Illinois Grand Slam - Are you up for the Challenge?

If you love the outdoors, you might want to put this on your bucket list…for 2021. The Southern Illinois Grand Slam is one of the holy grails of outdoor adventures. It’s when you accomplish the following — tag out on wild turkey, boat a limit of crappie, score a handful of morels, and find some wild asparagus…all in ONE DAY. I’ve only done it once before at the Boneyard Outfitters in Southern Illinois, but here is the story of my second…

There are some days that simply don’t happen very often. And I try to use the word “epic” sparingly. But it’s the only thing that comes to mind to describe my latest adventure…a successful Southern Illinois Grand Slam.

The success depends on a combination of skill, weather and a little luck…but EVERYTHING has to go right. First on the list, and arguably the toughest, is wild turkey. On opening morning, we located a roosting flock, snuck in and set up on at least 12 birds gobbling on the roost. We saw them pitch out and fly down and four toms made a beeline to our calls. When they got 28 yards out, my son Kyle threw a load of Magnum Blend and dropped one like a rock. The second bird didn’t know what happened, and about 2 seconds later he was on the ground too. We had a double on two mature toms, a first for me and my son, in itself was an incredible experience. But it just got better.

Since the sun hadn’t even cracked the treeline, Owner of Boneyard Outfitters Jason Johns said “Let’s go for the Grand Slam”. Of course we were all in. So an hour later, we had the birds cleaned and on our way to launch the boat on Rend Lake, the famed crappie mecca in Franklin County. The bite was tough to start as the water temps were cold. But Jason claimed as soon as those temps hit 60, the’ll start eating. And they did. By 11 am we were windmilling crappie and filled the live well.

By 1:00 and a pile of crappie in the cooler, it was time to hit the woods for item number 3 on the list…the elusive king of spring mushrooms, morels. Next to turkeys, this was going to be the toughest one to get. But that third week of April is prime time for morels in southern illinois. So the timing was right, we just needed to find them. And after years of morel hunting, Jason knew the honey holes. After about 15 minutes of looking, we heard “Jackpot!”. Kyle found a big yellow. It wasn’t too long after that we had a bunch in the bag. It was starting to look like this might happen. It was now 4:30 and we had plenty of daylight left to nab our last item…wild asparagus.

Wild asparagus hunting is a little different, and takes years of practice to perfect the eye to spot them. I can’t give away the secret, but let’s say we found a pile of them. Mission accomplished. We had achieved the Southern Illinois Spring Grand Slam, for the second time in my life.

We went back to the Boneyard Lodge and proceeded to feast…wild turkey hot wings, deep fried crappie, wild asparagus and morels.

Another huge benefit of hunting at the Boneyard is the camaraderie. We get to enjoy the experience with other hunters and anglers that share a common passion. A crew from Mendota mopped up on the crappie action. And Katrina M. shot her first wild turkey. She hunted with longtime guide Jason Hobbie and put a dandy tom in the dirt by 7:30 am. One of the coolest parts of my job is seeing others people experiencing a first outdoor accomplishment… whether it’s turkey hunting, deer hunting, even finding wild asparagus.

So if you’re wondering why I’m posting this now…it’s because NOW is the time to apply for Illinois Spring Turkey Permits. First, book y0ur hunt at BoneyardOutfitters.com. Then apply for your turkey permit at Illinois DNR website HERE. The lottery draw runs from December 2 through January 11.

There’s no guarantee, but if everything falls into place and a little luck, you can put the Southern Illinois Slam on your list of outdoor achievements.

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