I got a great email this morning from School Sister of Notre Dame Joyce Kolbet, an avid turkey hunter who went out in the woods for Minnesota’s Season B last week.
She is the vocations director at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Campus in Mankato in the Diocese of New Ulm. I first met her in 2006 when I did a story on her fly-fishing exploits for The Catholic Spirit. We have tried to stay in touch, and I wanted to hear how she did last week, so I sent her an email requesting details of her time in the woods.
She hunted hard all week and finally was rewarded with a nice tom Thursday morning about 8:45 a.m. After spending the first three days near Good Thunder, someone she knew offered her a chance to hunt a different area where birds were hanging out.
She got there the night before and saw a bunch of birds roosted in some trees on the property. A blind already was set up – only 80 yards away.
A perfect setup, except for one thing – the turkeys didn’t cooperate the next morning.
“Nothing came out at sunrise,” she said. “I thought for sure they would come out in my direction and walk out into this alfalfa field where I was set up.”
But, turkeys being the unpredictable birds they are, they threw a curve ball at Sister Joyce and went in another direction. Fortunately, she has learned one of the hardest lessons in this sport – patience. Thus, she stayed put in the blind and waited for another opportunity.
Around 8 a.m., she heard a gobble in the distance. She did some yelps on her slate call and waited. Then, she heard another gobble, closer this time. Once more, she did a soft call on her slate and put it down. She was done calling.
Finally, she caught sight of the tom walking along the edge of the woods toward her blind at about 90 yards. When it reached 46 yards, she fired, ending a hard four days of hunting.
Sister Joyce hunted with three others, and they spent lots of time in the woods near Good Thunder throughout each day last week. But, gobbles and bird sightings were rare. The three others stayed in the area after she left, and one of them shot a year-old gobbler, called a jake. That was it.
“I can’t figure it out,” she said. “We talked to other hunters out in that area and people just had not seen birds, or heard them.”
Good thing she switched areas. Sometimes, that makes all the difference. And, it’s one more way that experienced hunters can get their bird. Too often, inexperienced hunters keep trying the same things over and over again, hoping for different results. But, sadly, those results often don’t come.
For Sister Joyce, who has been turkey hunting since about 1996, she gets a bird about every other year she hunts. That’s a 50 percent success rate, almost double the statewide average of about 25 percent. So, congratulations to Sister Joyce on a well earned bird!
My turn comes Wednesday in Wisconsin. I’ve got some great properties to hunt, and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate. Right now, it looks like some storms are going to come in Tuesday night and possibly last into Wednesday morning. I will set up a blind this afternoon and wait out the rain on Wednesday. Doesn’t sound like it will rain all day, so the birds will move once it quits. But, it is supposed to warm up to 80 degrees or even a little more. Turkeys aren’t fond of extreme heat, yet they should be active at least in the morning.
And, I’ll be waiting for them!
Q: Do you have a turkey hunting story from this spring?