The opening day of hunting season always dawns with the excitement of high expectations and a healthy dose of optimism thrown in for good measure. More often than not reality begins to set in as the temperature steadily climbs to water gulping levels and all forms of flesh-eating insect life start its daily routine. As it was on the opening weekend of Wisconsin’s fall turkey season, sometimes this makes hunting feel more a slog than a fall hunt in the north country.
No matter, dedicated hunters do not quit over such trivial discomforts. Even with the success of the federal government’s efforts to increase the Massasauga Rattlesnake population; who the heck thinks that’s a good idea!? Vic the turkey dog and I continued hunting. Although, considering wild turkeys may be the snake’s number one predator I did consider pursuing something else. Nah.
After all the years of turkey hunting, one would think Charlie would be ready for the early fall birds who spend nearly all day in the treetops. These tree walking turkeys make it hard for a turkey dog to find and scatter and during a setup, it is tough to determine if an approaching turkey is on the ground or coming in via tree limbs. If they are in the full foliaged trees taking a clean shot is also problematic at best.
Over several days of hunting; burning high quantities of Therma Cell fuel, repellant pads, drenching the hunting clothes and Vic’s fur in permethrin. A healthy dose of deet applied around out face and ears; a few really close calls at getting a shot on a turkey, I started to wonder if a 2017 Wisconsin Slam was within reach. A Wisconsin Slam consists of killing at least one turkey during each season of the year; spring, summer, fall, and winter. Official autumn is September 22nd, so Vic and I had better figure out how to get our summer turkey of 2017 season.
Vic’s tongue was hanging to the ground and sweat pouring down my back we figured it was time for water and a rest. Vic had coursed 12 miles so far for the day while me, the lazy human only did about 4 miles. These are known distances thanks to the Garmin Astro 320 tracking GPS.
As the late morning was about to turn to afternoon, we sat together to refresh with water and perhaps a nap. As is my custom whenever there is a pause, I make some turkey noise on a wingbone to which a turkey promptly responded with a gobble! Not a full gobble, rather a jake of the year gobble and his gobble was answered by two more gobbles. A group of jakes is a fall turkey hunter’s dream because they are the easiest to birds to call in, and these birds were not an exception. They came trotting right to us in spite of me not having my face net down nor were my hands covered by gloves. There was a feeling of nakedness and exposure that would cause them to bust before coming into gun range. Must have been all the insects hovering between them and us.