The last day of Wisconsin’s 2017 wild turkey hunt dawned quiet, very quiet; at least as far as turkey sounds are concerned. The usual bird rush hour was in its normal fine form, but on this morning the turkeys apparently had other plans. The season has been rewardingly long this spring from the first week in April hunting Colorado Rios, moving up to Wyoming Black Hills for a snowy Merriam and back to
Wisconsin for some youth hunt mentoring until my first Wisconsin tag validation the last week of April. Not a morning missed, rain, shine, or somewhere in between and now here I set wearily reflecting on it all to the sounds of silence, the 30th of May with no complaints or regrets. Yeah, I missed a turkey or two and zigged when a zag was needed more often than I care to remember. It’s not good to focus on negative thoughts because if you do, they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
As the morning birdie rush hours fade into memory, I stand, stretch and give thanks. Wild turkey season has come to an end for me…Until later while walking the dogs, a lone gobbler takes to flight out of the VPA field and glides lazily to the opposite woodlot. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, the season is still open, and I have two unpunched tags left. VPA is private land that the Wisconsin DNR leases for public access, the field is open for hunting but as is so typical the woodlot is not enrolled, so it is closed to hunting without permission of the landowner.
The internal debate heats up; tiredness makes its nagging request just to forget him and rest. While the prey drive says “two open tags and several hours to hunt a gobbler you can call out to kill.”
I feel sorry for the poor dogs after promising them on my return this morning that my hunt was over until the fall season and Vic would get the hunt the next time. Funny thing about plans, they are subject to change, and here I am setting up in some long grass barely able to see the freshly planted corn field, calling on a tongue teaser to what seems like wide open empty spaces.
As 3:00 rolls around my sanity in some quarters would be questioned and the of quitting continues to grow in appeal. The sun seems searing in intensity; you’d think the biting gnats would have their wings burned off, sadly it just appears to energize their bloodlust.
Time crawls to only 3:15; Has my watch stopped? Ok, enough for one spring; as I roll off the gobbler lounger to take a final 360 look around a neon blue spot moves on my right…How in the heck did he get that close without being seen? And, as always, these birds come in from the direction least expected.
Rarely, is movement helpful when a standing tom is staring at you at close range. However, he must have thought another turkey was moving around in the long grass causing him to up periscope for a better look-see, a fatal mistake. I rose to my knees and looked at the twitching gobbler through the shot-tunnel in the grass. Must be a mirage! Another tom is closing fast, heading directly to the dead bird and the end of my barrel.
For a moment I thought it was just a dream, so I waited for the empty field to rematerialize. But you know, the weight of 40+ pounds of turkey over your back brings reality into focus. On the half mile stroll back to the truck there was a moment or two when the memory of turkey tags still available and the season does not close until 8p something…hmm.