Every hunt has a certain ebb and flow, plans are made, altered and when it comes to wild turkey hunting altered again. Turkeys are random birds being there one day and somewhere else the next. A turkey hunter is never sure… this was the case last night when a good buddy called to tell me about a gobbler he heard while fishing on the Mississippi that afternoon. When a turkey’s location is offered during the last week of Wisconsin’s turkey season you’d be wise to pay attention and change plans accordingly. An active late afternoon gobbler is likely going to roost nearby.
My buddy got fed up with Wisconsin’s licensing scheme and quit turkey hunting a few years ago. He has no desire to turkey hunt after the first 2 weeks for which, he was never drawn or he’d forget to apply. A late season turkey tag would just interfere with his beloved fishing.
During the fall this buddy loves to bow hunt deer so I had given him GPS coordinates to a particular spot where I figured he’d have a chance at a dandy buck. While fall turkey hunting Vic the Turkey Dog and I would see this 12 pointer, after just a couple of hours my buddy killed his first trophy class buck.
He felt he owed me something in return and knew I would be interested in his turkey report including the coordinates. Besides he figured I was the only one crazy enough to climb that huge bluff in the dark from river level.
My hunting plan ebbed and at 4:40 AM: I found myself at the base of a 500 foot bluff thinking just maybe my friend was playing with me. There was no turkey talk going on, a beautiful but silent morning in an area my boots had never before trod. Up the old logging path, hooting and cawing. At the top- the woods was open, 5:45 not so much as a cluck.
To catch my breath and figure at things I setup on the most comfortable tree of the season, the sun just a red beam peeking over the horizon at my back. Fighting off a bout of tree trunk narcolepsy I made my first calls quiet yelps, rising to cackles and into fighting purrs. Nothing. Let out a series of lost yelps and kee-kees. Quiet.
About 6:10 burning red light reflected off the morning clouds, the sunrise light is filtering and dancing in all around throughout the woods, magically gorgeous and I know not from where he came, the most outrageously beautiful strutting turkey I have ever seen; bathed in the glow of sunrise. His feathers caught and shimmered those colored rays of light back at me as he pirouetted on his toes in a manner that would make any ballerina jealous. I gazed intently over the barrel, usually a natural thing at times like this, but it seemed so out of place on this morning…..
There are times when the quarry has conducted itself admirably and you’ve hunted well. Isn’t that reward enough?