It was finally here!
I was looking forward to May 7th for a long time. Not only was it my last day of finals for my spring semester, but more importantly, my time to get out in the woods and try to call in an old gobbler. As soon as I got done with my final in the morning, I hurried to gather my gear and headed for Buffalo County, Wisconsin. I had talked to my good friend, Ben Kluge, a couple weeks before the season and he was going to let me hunt some land he owns. We just planned on getting a couple birds roosted on the night I arrived so we could have them pinpointed the next morning, so we did.
We had spotted a couple toms with a few hens in the field that was butted up to the woods Ben owned, so we snuck through the woods and got into position to get the birds where we wanted them. Unfortunately, the longbeards didn’t gobble even once the whole night, but we at least heard them fly up into the tall pine trees. That was good enough for us, so we just slowly walked back to the truck and headed to the lodge to get a good night’s rest.
4:00 A.M. arrived in no time and my brother and I hopped out of our beds and got our camouflage on. Ben decided to sleep in because he had to work later, but he wished us good luck. We were out in the woods at around 4:30 and got all settled in to our spot. As the sun slowly came up over the horizon, we had still not heard a single gobble! We were a little disappointed, but stuck it out in hopes of having one move in. Not long after, two gobbles rang out from the field that the toms were in the night before. We gave them a couple yelps to see if they would respond, but they must have had those hens with them still and they didn’t budge. About an hour later they decided to move on and follow the hens the opposite direction.
At about 10:00, my stomach started erupting with noise, so we headed back to the car to get some food and try a different part of Ben’s land. We drove around the block to check to see if any turkeys were out in the fields, but there wasn’t. We didn’t quite know what to expect going in to this other section of his land, but we figured, “What the heck!” We parked alongside a stream that trickles through the middle of his property and sat for a minute to discuss our plan. We decided we would simply walk along the river bottoms, call a bit, and see if we could get a response. Just as we were about to get out of the car, I looked down in the ditch and a hen was walking no more than ten feet away from us! She crawled into the brush along the ditch and never came back out, so we assumed she had a nest in there somewhere. This was a good sign already and got my heart pumping!
After the hen disappeared, we got out and got the video camera out and our gear to start on our journey. We had never been down on this land before, so we had no idea what to expect. I threw out a couple yelps from my Hunters Specialties mouth call and we didn’t get more than 150 yards down the river before we had two gobblers respond and they were close! We quickly scrambled to get set up and concealed. They gobbled again and were even closer! I yelped softly a few more times and no more than 30 seconds after we got settled in they came on almost a dead run to us. They wanted to know where that hen was that they had heard. I had my eye on the dominant, and bigger, one of the two birds. 50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards, 20 yards, and BANG!! The beastly gobbler fell to the ground and started trying to fly away! I couldn’t believe it! I had only had time to put one shell in my gun, so all I could do was watch him! He flopped over into the river, where he expired, and we went and found him.
What a bird! He definitely didn’t look quite as pretty after he had gotten into the river, but man was it huge! We tagged him, got him back into the woods, and took our pictures. Now I had the long haul back to the car with this monster! It weighed in at 27 pounds, had an 11.5 inch beard, and 1 3/8 inch spurs. It is my biggest tom to date and I got to share it with my brother and get it all on film, it doesn’t get much better than that! I called Ben up as soon as we got back to the car and he couldn’t believe it. I still think he was a little jealous, but I couldn’t thank him enough for letting us hunt his land. It was a hunt that I will never forget and I will definitely be back next year!