May 2nd-8th turkey season was my second hunt of the year here in WI. With a heavy Personal Training workload, a regular job and crappy weather my time was bound to be limited.
I literally had only 1.5 hours on each of the week-day mornings and a couple of half days open on the week-end. With our bird numbers really being hit hard the last few winters I knew my work was cut out for me!
Wednesday morning found rain, wind, and storms going strong…. back to bed!
Thursday morning I headed to an area that was a small chunk of private land, close to home. I heard one Tom, several properties away but there was just no way to close the distance with all the private ownership between us.
Friday morning brought more wind, rain and fog and zero gobbles.
3:30 am Saturday morning I put on my HECS STEALTHSCREEN garment and woke my 9 year old son, Hunter. The truck was already loaded to go and 15 minutes later we were headed north on the 45 minute drive to a large tract of public land. Years past this had been a great area. The last couple of years however have been really tough on turkeys in this area so we weren’t sure what it would be like. Not having any MRI (most recent information) I decided to head in about 5/8 of a mile from the road to a transition area about 400 yards from a roosting area. Our timing was right and just as daylight was breaking; we were getting settled into our T5 Double Bull blind.
Within a couple of minutes we heard a Tom gobble in the typical roosting area. With no other birds gobbling, had I been solo, I would have immediately closed the distance with just my Mathew’s Heli m and the Heads Up Decoy. Having Hunter along, I knew we would need the blind. 3 gobbles and 10 minutes later I made the decision to cut the distance. We quickly broke down our set-up and quietly tried to get closer.
After cutting the distance about 125 yards he gobbled again. At this point, not knowing whether he was on the ground or in the tree, I knew we had to get reset and quickly. Unfortunately even though the whole move took less than 7 minutes we never heard another gobble. I was wondering if we had spooked him or if he had just hit the ground and shut-up.
About 5:45 we spotted a hen feeding about 50 yards out. She spent the next hour within 50 yards just preening and eating. No suitors joined her and she eventually just worked off. By 6:30 Hunter was getting tired and ready to go. It wasn’t long after that he nodded off. Although we weren’t having much action I was confident because I knew there was at least one Tom in the area, plus I knew we were set in a great transition area. With my little man sleeping I knew we had bought a little more time!
About 7:25 I thought I heard two gobbles. I wasn’t sure but if they were gobbles this bird was a long ways off, at least a 1/2 mile to the SE. I still wasn’t sure whether I had heard actual gobbles or just ‘hopeful hearing’. A few minutes later I spotted the second hen of the morning coming from the NE. She was also taking her time preening and feeding, although she did keep moving at a steady pace.
Shortly thereafter a crow-flying overhead a few hundred yards to the NE elicited a shock gobble from a Tom. Pulling out my Hustlin’ Hen box call, I gave a few LOUD yelps. As still as the morning was, it allowed the sound to travel and I quickly got a response gobble from him. It was time to wake up Hunter and get this show going!
As Hunter cleared his head, I proceeded to close all the unneeded windows and arrange the blind space to prepare for the encounter! Knowing how the birds worked in this area had really been the key to our success over the last 7-8 years. Hopefully it would play into our hunt again this time.
With things in order it was time to start working him. Every time I yelped, cutt, or purred we got a response that was closer than the prior response. Within minutes of the original gobble he popped over the ridge into view at about 90 yards already strutting. He continued coming slightly SW, strutting in to around 65 yards which is where he hung up. For bowhunting turkeys I always set my decoys within 2-3 yards of the blind. This helps bring them in as close as possible. This is good for gun hunters and great for the bowhunter.
For the next 25 minutes he strutted back and forth, unknowingly keeping the blind between himself and the decoys. Every time I yelped, purred, cut, or scratched the leaves he would gobble or double gobble. It was an amazing show to watch. Unfortunately this area is rather open with all mature trees. It was great for strutting and vision, but he just wasn’t coming any closer without being able to see the counter parts that should be in sight.
There was a big blow down poplar tree obstructing his view some and also holding him up. At this point I knew there were only two options. I could either go silent and hope his curiosity got the best of him or crank it way up and hope he would get fired up and commit. I like to be in control of what the animal is going to do so I decided to go the ‘hot’ route. I knew if this didn’t work he would most likely slow down some and head out to the NW. Hopefully this would still allow us to cut out and circle around and get ahead of him and allow us to work him again.
I started with the box call, then worked in the Imperial Primos plate. (Yep elk call) I was calling hard, loud and frequently. He was going nuts and I could see he was starting to move, still fanning, to the west. When he finally cleared the blind and spotted the hen decoy he stayed in strut but starting doing small circles and finally started moving forward. Before he moved clear of the big dead fall it was plain to see the moment when he spotted the HUD. He locked on, came out of full strut and instantly went into a beard shaking side to side run. Hunter says, in a not so quiet tone “Get ready dad, he’s running”. I drew the bow and by the time I was getting locked in he was wide open at 10 yards. I had to squeak out a yelp on the reed and by when he was at 3 yards I released. I had my bird down after some breath holding, a fantastic show and the knowledge that this hunt could of not happened without my HECS STEALTHSCREEN clothing, the HUD Decoy and the Double Bull Blind. What an amazing hunt made perfect because I got to share it all with my son.
Remember, to be the complete hunter to always go afield in your HECS STEALTHSCREEN. Scent control, camo and stealthy hunting is not enough. For more go to: HECS