Turkey time in Wisconsin

May 19, 2008

Faith Outdoors

I went on a turkey hunt with my dad in Wisconsin last week. In that state, like in Minnesota, you get drawn for a five-day season. This was the second-to-last season, so we were hunting late in the year. But, with the late spring we’ve had, this turned out pretty well. The birds were active and the weather was beautiful on each of the three days we hunted.

The first day, we had birds gobbling and strutting, but they wouldn’t come in. Then, I moved our blind right to the edge of the property line and had a bird gobbling as we were setting up. But, a tractor pulled onto the neighbor’s land and started planting corn. Then, another neighbor whose land touches the property we were on drove up on a tractor to plant a food plot for deer. That ended things for the day, but we decided to come back to the same spot the next morning.

Turkeys love freshly-planted corn fields and they were definitely there the next day. I moved the blind to the spot where my son had killed a nice bird the previous year, just 20 yards from a large strip of freshly-planted corn. Two toms were gobbling on the neighbor’s land, but wouldn’t come over. Then, at about 6:30 a.m., a hen crossed in front of us. I tried to call her into the decoys, but she just kept going. About 10 minutes later, two more hens crossed in front of us. This time, they turned and came right to the decoys, which we had set up 5-10 yards from the blind.

I was thinking it would be nice to have a gobbler follow the hens in when I heard a gobble just over the hill to my left. I looked and saw the top of a tail fan pop up, then another. The two birds came strutting over the hill and I was hoping they would veer right so my dad and I could both get a shot. He was on the right side of the blind (where I thought the birds would come from) and I was on the left.

But, these darned birds stayed left and began to slow down and act cautious. They came out of strut, ran their heads up and stood there. My choice was to keep waiting and risk them leaving, or shoot now and at least get one. I chose to shoot and I dropped the bird in front at 40 yards. Unfortunately, the other one took off right away and my dad didn’t get a shot.

We went to another farm (where my son Andy had shot a bird April 13) and hunted there for a few hours that day and then again the following morning until noon. We had birds gobble and come part way in, but we couldn’t pull one in close enough for my dad to shoot. So, we ended up one for two. I was hoping my dad would get one, but I think he just enjoyed being out in the woods with me. At his age, 86, that’s an accomplishment in itself. He did manage to shoot a bird the week before in Minnesota while hunting with my brother, so he did get his bird this year.

Several weeks ago, I shot a bearded hen in Minnesota (which is legal), but it is not the same feeling as shooting a big tom. Mine weighed about 20.5 pounds and had an 11 1/4-inch beard that was nice and thick. All in all, a great bird and an awesome hunt. I’m thankful to the Lord for the time with my dad and the bird we were able to harvest.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek