During my almost half century of hunting, I have always made a point of hunting the last day of the season assuming I have an unused tag still available in my pocket. It is my way to say a respectful goodbye to the season and usher in the season next year with good karma; maybe a little superstition or perhaps my excuse to hunt one more time.
Wisconsin fall turkey season closes Dec 31st each year providing, in my humble opinion, the perfect way to celebrate the coming New Year with all the high expectations of hunts yet to come.
December 31, 2011, found Vic, my 1-year-old Vizsla and myself hunting for the last wild turkey of 2011.
The turkeys had been hard to locate the last couple of weeks. Perhaps due to unusually mild temperatures the turkeys were still in small flocks or being loners wandering the woods and fields enjoying the readily available buffet of seeds and fruits littering the bare ground.
Due to my attention being distracted for a moment I lost track of Vic a rather typical occurrence with a wide-ranging turkey dog. I’m beginning to listen intently for telltale signs of him, suddenly an abrupt cackle followed by a chain of loud cackling and wings must be my turkey dog causing all that noise. The flock rose up as a tower out of the brush above the logging road I was standing on. Thinking these birds were all heading across the valley to a far ridge I was surprised when they rotated their wings for a decent downward splitting in half landing on the road on either side of me. Realizing their mistake the turkeys took off running in different directions, a good break indeed. The silence returned as I blew the whistle signaling for Vic’s to come.
Vic was so spun up I had a hard time tethering him during our wrestling match. Usually he is allowed to run around to continue flushing any straggler birds but this time, the turkeys were scattered close by making a fast set up necessary.
The electricity of excitement burning in Vic could be felt right out to the tips of his hair. What little fur he has. While we continued wrestling into set up position a nearby cluck carried through the air. I answered with a demanding assembly call that was answered back with a pleading kee-kee cluck. Vic froze on a sitting point towards the opposite direction from where I thought the sound originated. After a season of hunting with Vic, I have learned to trust his senses over mine, so I turned shifting the old model 1100 to my right side just in time. A bluish turkey head materialized just beyond the bead- boom – Vic relishing the intoxicating smell of freshly killed turkey. A glance at my watch- 4:15 as I punched my last 2011 tag marking the end of Vic’s first season.
I told Vic this was the last turkey of the year as I took his picture. His face says it all.