OnFocus – January and warm weather seem a long way off yet, but I received something in the mail last week that always gets me excited for spring. That little yellow postcard item tells me I was successful in the 2021 spring turkey drawing. DNR has so many permits available that I’m never concerned about not getting drawn; that little card, though, reminds me of how fun springtime can be.
The likelihood that I ever draw an elk tag in the Badger State is close to Powerball odds, so I’m left with hunting turkey. How can elk hunting and turkey hunting even be a comparison, you may ask? Yes, that is a pretty drastic comparison as far as animal size is concerned.
I haven’t had another animal that I pursued give me the adrenaline rush like a bugling elk when you are holding a bow in your hand. A springtime gobbler, though, that comes in with a glowing white head looking for its mate is a close second in my experiences of pursuing vocal animals.
Things sure have changed, though, over the years when it comes to turkey hunting. When I first started hunting them, it was not open statewide; the nearest large tract of public land we could hunt was Rock Dam/Mead Lake area.
Butler Lane and Campglobe Road were areas that we often traveled chasing birds; this is where turkey hunting is like chasing elk. We were run and gunning after these vocal birds. It was exciting to get out of the car, blow on a crow or owl call, listen for a gobble in response to the shock call, and off you would go to pinpoint that location. As you closed in on the bird, it became a cat and mouse approach to see who could spy who first.
As the population of turkey got stronger, more areas of the State opened up. We were now hunting them in our home range of McMillan and Mead Wildlife area. The same methods of hunting were applied, run, and gun.
That technique of chasing birds around talking like a hen still can get a tag filled, but the thrill of hunting turkey is declining. With the sport growing, the birds have received more and more pressure. Along with that, pressure has come the wisdom of being hunted. The birds are not as vocal as they once were, and often you hunt them like a whitetail deer where you pick a location and sit and wait. The birds quietly slip in to check out your decoy.
Even though the birds are not as responsive to the calling technique, I still look forward to spring. I find myself grinning each spring morning that I slip into the woods, and I hear my first gobble of the day as the birds wake up from their roost in a tree.
The success rate of harvesting a turkey in Wisconsin is around 18%; I have been lucky enough to fall into that percentage several times. A standard weapon of choice for pursuing longbeards is a shotgun. Since I have taken a few birds, I have switched my goals though over to archery equipment.
I figured the technique of hunting the birds has changed, so I might as well change my equipment. The sit and wait approach works well with archery equipment; grab a ground blind, decoys, and sit and wait them out.
We are a few months away from April, which is when the seasons start. Winter blues can set in, and we get cabin fever. Take this time and get your gear ready; for a turkey hunter, getting spring gear ready is like a person packing their swim gear to head to a warm beach!
Click here to see my tips about one way to increase your odds of success when using decoys. I share with you how I dress my decoys up for success.
On January 3rd, most of the deer seasons in Wisconsin are closed. Some special hunts are going on yet in certain parts of the State; click here to read regulations on units that still offer hunts. These hunts continue until the end of the month.
It’s not too often that I can share something about a first-time experience doing something in the outdoors; the last weekend in December, though, is an adventure that was a first for me. It was making deer drives with archery equipment.
Stories from my Dad and reading writings from author Dick Lange about wintertime deer drives seemed like something that Thankful Outdoors is about. It is a wintertime activity that pulled a group of people together to share and enjoy the outdoors with each other.
Sebold, Nehlrich, and the Hopperdietzel crew made our way to the Mead Wildlife Area to start our adventure. Putting these three families together will have a day filled with stories and laughter. The day had turned into more of a nice walk in the woods since we had not seen any deer.
Sitting at the dog training grounds located off Highway O in the Mead allowed us to cook camp chili and tell stories. It was the perfect way to end the day! Something about cooking chili over a fire and cast iron pot seem so rustic. I can’t get that feeling by ordering a bowl in a restaurant! Here is the link if you would like to try the chili yourself, enjoy!
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!