-By Brandon Wikman
The anticipation and excitement of chasing a Wisconsin long-beard began to transform into pure dosages of frustration. As each day of my season ensued, the more aggravated I became. Last week I found out very quickly that hunting a central Wisconsin gobbler with a jumble of filming equipment was rather tiresome.
I was only able to hunt three of the five days for turkey because of my school schedule. Cramming in a quick three-day hunt was the best I could do.
Friday morning my nerves were pulsing with overwhelming enthusiasm. The first setup was over an alfalfa field. Many birds were using the area throughout the day. With my decoy placed a few yards in front of me, all I could do was wait for the show. I hunkered into the shrubbery and vanished with the help of my camouflage. As the refreshing sign of morning dawned upon me, the subtle glow of light pierced the horizon.
An eruption of gobbles crackled from the field’s edge high above the forest floor. Several male turkeys began claiming ground and shrieking boisterous messages across the land. It took only minutes until they pitched from their roosts and into the field. An alfalfa field is a perfect place for them to showoff, sift for bugs, and spot other turkeys.
A gobbler from across the field cranked his neck to listen to my calling. He looked as if he were interested. His colorful red and blue speckled head sank into his feathers. The bird started strutting my way. One-Hundred-fifty yards separated me any my quarry. I nestled the stock of my shotgun into my shoulder and pre-visualized the attack. Before I could even visualize pulling the trigger, the gobbler came to an abrupt halt. The bird threw his head up in the air, looked at the decoys, and darted across the open field. I sat in utter amazement, as I watched his beard swing back-and-forth. It was obvious he was decoy shy.
I hunted the rest of the day and it turned into a lot of walking, calling, and doubt. The birds had quit gobbling by 8am and the extreme hot weather didn’t help. My turkey forecast was not looking very good. All I could hope for is a new day.
Saturday, my alarm clock didn’t wake me up at 4am. Pouring rain and hurricane winds sent me back into sleep mode. I waited the entire day to step foot into the woods, but the weather never calmed.
Sunday morning was my last chance to strike a wad-full of ammo into a Wisconsin long-beard. I was more than willing to sit over the alfalfa field once again hoping to cross-paths with the decoy shy bird. The only difference was that this time I was not going to have a decoy. There wasn’t any reason or doubt that a bird would stroll into range this time. The morning routine of gobbling followed as I readied myself for a lovesick tom.
A barrage of brown specks began filtering through the corner of the field. My binoculars proved honest when I caught the glimpse of a dangling beard. The only problem was that he was escorting a handful of needy hens. I cranked up my calling hoping to entice the female’s curiosity. Instead, they took the gobbler back into the woods. My mind raced, temper escalated, and body numbed as I sat in a stupor. My gun was pointed directly in the air with my body half up ready to move, until I saw a flash of brown.
The more I turkey hunt, the more I realize the unpredictability of them. This season was not like past seasons I’ve experienced. Birds didn’t want to cooperate and the weather didn’t help. Sometimes the sheer fact of being out in the woods with a shotgun in hand has enough potential to fill your tag in someway, shape or form. As the old saying goes, “You can’t kill one on the couch”.