Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
Spring is sprung, love is in the air and I have a second period spring turkey permit for Zone 34.
Check-in periodically as I'll be posting updates on my success (or lack thereof).
About the love part - tom turkey is out strutting his stuff for the ladies in hopes of getting lucky.
If I'm lucky I hope to bag one of these fellas when he's not thinking very clearly.
Here's my set-up. A cammo blind artfully adorned with last winter's oak prunings.
A foam rubber decoy or two. (Think of it as turkey erotica).
My trusty bow.
Up at 4:30 AM and out to the blind. The moon is casting shadows and the noise is positively raucous. Woodcock whistling in their aerial mating displays. The spring peepers singing in a vast chorus. Owls hooting back and forth. Turkeys gobbling as they fly down from their roosts.
I wait for the perfect ambush.
7 AM a gobbler announces his presence and threads his way through the trees before slipping away.
At 8 AM another gobbler materializes with a hen in tow. As he approaches the decoys another gobbler beyond him announces his intentions.
I draw. Aim. Place the glowing sight pin on the gobbler's head and release. THWACK! (That didn't sound quite right) The arrow sails over the turkey.
Mr. Gobbler darts away yet is clucking and purring the entire time - intent upon the foam rubber ladies.
I nock another arrow and wait for a shot situation.
All of a sudden a thunderous gobble comes from directly behind me. Yikes! That will get your blood pumping.
Three gobblers are now weaving around - two out of bow range and one I can hear but cannot see.
We do some talking to one another. Clucking, cutting and putting.
After about twenty minutes they depart.
Reflecting upon my missed shot I notice that my arrow sliced right through the zipper edging the window on the blind. Lucky bird.
I'm back and I'm pooped.
Following the preceding post I returned to my blind and abject boredom.
Except for a brief and furious rumble (lots of gobbling and bickering from a distance) nothing was happening.
The secret to passing time in a bow blind when things are slow is to pack a couple of essential items:
1. A good book to read: Wild Stories - The Best of Men's Journal (a terrific gift idea for the favorite guy in your life)
2. A Blackberry (so I could check on the name-calling over on the TTS)
Did some additional scouting on the walk back for possible locations later tomorrow and Friday. I got a bit close to a nest box where someone was staking-out their territory and was repeatedly dive-bombed by this little bird.
As I write this I'm tipping-back a refreshing Warsteiner and looking forward to hitting the sack early.
Overcast skies obscure the moon. My half-mile walk was relatively quiet - unlike the cacophony of yesterday morning.
As daylight dawned things picked-up a bit.
A Song Sparrow kept me entertained with its clear song.
A couple of whitetail deer cruised through at 6:20 AM.
Worked a gobbler for almost a half-hour after 7 AM - yet not close enough for a shot.
The wind picked-up and continued gather strength. Things got really slow about then. I'm wondering if I'd even have a decent chance with the bow in this strong a cross wind.
After a decoy blew away in a particularly strong series of gusts I figured it was time to come in.
Winds gusting to 30 MPH - I need a Plan B.
Strong winds make turkey hunting particularly difficult. The birds cannot hear me and I cannot hear them.
Back to the field. This time with a really loud box call and a notion to move my set-up depending upon conditions.
By mid-afternoon I moved my blind to a location better suited to the windy conditions and at the confluence of two wide fire-breaks. An east-west trail that stretches a quarter mile from property line to property line and a north-south trail that winds its way thru the trees. My theory is that any turkeys crossing the property from most any given compass direction (and within their keen eyesight of the decoys) will spot the two rubber hens situated in the intersection. My blind is twenty paces to the southwest.
VERY quiet afternoon. About 90 minutes before shooting time ended I got some responses to my calling. Twice. Nobody reveals themselves.
If you spend enough time turkey hunting you learn very quickly that gobblers are periodically going to hang-up.
He's going to stop somewhere short of your range and not move-in close enough for a shot.
Who knows what's going thru his little head. Maybe he's got a good start on his harem or maybe he's playing hard-to-get and waiting for your rubber hen to come to him.
When this happens I usually try my most seductive purrs and clucks in an attempt to lure him in. Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't.
Failing that I stop calling and wait. And wait. This is absolutely the hardest thing to do, Sometimes curiosity gets the better of the bird and the hunter scores. Sometimes not.
Turkey hunters are a patient sort.
By the way it has begun to rain steadily.
Up at 4:15 AM to thunder and a steady rain.
I give a passing thought to crawling back into bed until the weather clears. Naw. Layer-up. That's why the good people at DuPont invented Gore-Tex.
As bad as the conditions are I opt to leave the bow behind and take my trusty Mossberg 12 ga. turkey gun instead.
Along with a couple of these.
Except for the thunder it is quiet. This low pressure system even shut-down the frog chorus. Not a peep or a croak.
Funny how every time a rumble rolls out of the sky the gobblers all sound-off.
Pretty soon the sun comes-up and the rain pauses. The chickadees and goldfinches are chirping. Cheeseburger and potato chip!
I catch some stray gobbles but nothing doing.
About 8:30 a lone hen sashays past my decoys.
An hour later a gobble to the west. I reply with a few yelps. I get gobbling in return.
Hard to tell how far away in the fog.
I yelp - he gobbles.
Closer this time.
The gobbles are getting much closer.
I switch to soft purrs and clucks - then shut-up.
Mr. Tom comes into view at about 200 yards - in full strut.
He stays out there for the longest time pirouetting and showing-off.
Against my better judgment I give him some come-hither purrs and clucks.
Closer he comes.
Accompanying him is a hen.
The real hen approaches my decoys.
This is a really good turn of events. He follows.
I raise my Mossberg. Draw a bead on the bird. Give him one last cluck. As he extends his head and gobbles...
10:20 AM Bird down.
I call my lovely bride with the news and she and girlfriend arrive for picture time.
He's a dandy. Twenty-three pounds (a bit on the light side but its been a tough winter), 9 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs.
Ready for the freezer and some terrific eating sometime later this year.
As I'm plucking my bird the thunder and monsoons have returned.