-By Brandon Wikman
This past week has been a non-stop, no sleep, no regret whirlwind of outdoor adventures. I flew out of Milwaukee, WI into Miami, Florida and drove straight into everglade country for some serious Osceola turkey hunting.
I arrived in Miami at midnight and met with my good friend, John Stamper of Student Outdoor Experience. SOE is an organization that focuses on educating middle school and high school students about the outdoors through strong leadership and promotes the heritage of our beloved sport from this generation to the next.
We hit pavement as soon as I grabbed my camo duffle bag, which was probably the only camo colored bag in the entire airport! We had a 3-hour drive north through the middle of the night en route to turkey territory. My anticipation for the hunt left me nerved the entire drive. There was no possible way I could sleep or even feel drowsy.
Once we arrived near our camp, we went to the nearest café and hammered down some appetizing breakfast. John laid out the game plan of the turkey hunt. He had told me that we’d be going to a friend’s chunk of property to hunt turkey.
We arrived in camp at nearly 4:30 in the morning. As soon as John introduced me to the landowner it was time to put the camo on and get into the palmetto patches and cypress heads.
We trekked our way through the marshy grasses, pine groves and into a green field as the morning light slowly progressed into light casts of blue. We edged our way down a fence line and found our setup. As soon as we sat down and got positioned, we heard a gobbler thundering throughout the humid Florida air. It was so amazing to me that not a day earlier I sat freezing in Wisconsin and now I was thawing off in temperatures I don’t usually see until July.
The palmettos began accenting bright oranges and shades of red from the morning sunrise. I soon knew it was time to bust out the turkey calls and make some rhythmic music in the misty morning air. I broke the silence with a slight rasp and was surprisingly answered before I could finish my sequence. I began flirting with this gobbler the entire morning hoping I could entice him in making the walk from his roost to the end of my shotgun barrel.
I soon spotted a parade of jakes marching toward me into the decoys. They stood perplexed, glaring at my jake and hen decoy combo. Before the jakes left, they attempted to shriek an immature gobble at a hen with seducing soft yelps from the other side of the field. This really shook-up the big gobbler I had been working all morning, he suddenly turned silent. Within minutes I spotted him strutting his way towards my decoys. Not once did he gobble, but ventured ahead with curiosity and pure adrenaline stemming from his bright red head.
At 40-yards I raised my shotgun, put the bead over his neck and pulverized him. Everything happened instantly, I couldn’t quite grasp the situation. I went over 24-hours nonstop without sleep and was fortunate enough to work a very elusive bird within range. It made for a great experience and extraordinary adventure.