As this is written there are only three hunting days left to Wisconsin’s 2017 spring turkey season. For the most part, the toms have stopped gobbling to tip off their locations and they have started forming their summer time bachelor groups. This is the moment some hunters eagerly wait for because when the toms are properly motivated with gobbler talk, deep sounding clucks followed by a slow raspy yelp or two. Make sure it’s just one or two yelps clearly separated and not run together.
The added challenge much like in fall hunting is finding the turkeys. When turkeys form groups there will be more areas without and the other areas will have more birds.
After sleeping in until 5:00 a, sleep deprivation is taking its toll on me; a gobbler who has irritated me since early April by consistently strutting in the middle of a field I can’t hunt. Worse, no one else has hunted him either so all he does is strut at me nearly everytime I drive by. This morning he was in the middle of the dirt road strutting as beautiful as a peacock with the rising sun glinting off his feathers. I did feel a temptation to stop and shoot him or just run him over, but clearly, those thoughts were just symptoms of sleep deprivation, I just blew the horn instead. That tom tipped me off to his roost location as he flew off. I had a good feeling the next morning I’d get him. He was clearly callable onto some land I have permission to hunt by a farmer who likes to have a lot of turkeys removed from his land.
I continued on my way to check out a hillside pocket that is only reachable by boat and since the rivers were above flood stage the turkeys should be in the “pocket”. Sure enough, I settled in called with a few clucks, noticed a black stump that looked very much like a turkey staring at me, red-headed and all. Figured it was a stump with a cardinal sitting on it. There have been a lot of cardinals and scarlet tanagers this year causing excitement here and there. Lack of sleep does that to you sometimes, so I lowered my eyelids to check for leaks. When I opened them a few minutes later the black stump was gone; I clucked and there he was not quite 30 yards standing at attention in the wide open woods staring at the lump that was me. Fortunately, my gun sling is always hooked on my left knee holding the barrel level out front and this tom is standing right in front of the gun barrel. All I needed to do was raise it up and one tag for the last season was filled.
That left two tags in my pocket for Friday. The determination to bag that most irritating strutter in the county rose to an obsessive level. That is, until Friday morning, when I forced myself out of bed, shooting that poor turkey did not seem as important as it did yesterday.
At 6:10 am I found myself laying back in a grassy field wash using the folds of the field to hide me. Lying back when you need sleep is not conducive to remaining alert. However, the chain gobbling that answered my first tongue teaser yelp sure did get my full attention and when that yelp was followed up with some walking clucks and a single yelp to be answered by near constant incoming gobbling from two sides—sleep just slid way down the priority list.
During late seasons my Willow Ridge Tongue Teaser – Gobbler Pine Box is the call I turn to, Scott made this special for me to use in the fall for calling in gobblers. It works whenever, the need to make gobbler calls arises.
In about 20 minutes the five toms converged on my location, marching as if on a mission to either recruit the lonesome gobbler (me) or kick his butt. I do not which it was, for they did not get any time to explain. At mid-gobble my gun commanded silence from the first one at 15 yards. The other four turned around marching away single file when a single cluck stopped them and turned em around for the gun to silence the second one mid-gobble at 30 yds filling my last two tags for the final season.
You’d think, the season would end there… Not in Wisconsin, there are still thousands of OTC tags left and two of those are now in my pocket. Heck, sleep is overrated, I have all summer to catch up on it.