By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
We closed the door on the 3rd season of the Wisconsin Spring Turkey hunt yesterday. I was personally glad to see it go. Over the course of the past 7 days, I have been worked both physically and mentally by these silly little 20 pound birds. Although we struck out a whole hell of a lot this past week, we did find some success along the way. When most probably would have thrown in the towel, we stayed the course and persistence paid off in white meat.
Wednesday and Thursday were uneventful to say the least. We heard decent gobbling off the roost but birds flew down with hens and went silent shortly after hitting the ground. We continued to hop around to different areas and had no luck at all striking birds. It seemed like we couldn’t even find birds out in the fields early on in the season, it was tough! For the first couple of days, I am pretty sure we didn’t hear a gobble between 7am and 6pm and we were hunting hard the entire time. High winds certainly did not help.
Friday was a little bit different story. The weather broke for us. The high winds laid down, it warmed up just enough and the sun poked through. Around 8:30 in the morning we finally found a bird that was fired up! He was gobbling on a hillside, and gobbling a lot. We hurried to get on the ridge above him, and worked until we were about 80 yards from the crest of the hill. He hammered as we were setting the decoys. A few soft yelps and he was in our lap. Mark lit him up at 20 paces.
A couple hours later Mike and JP found a little success of their own in the central part of the state. They walked into a piece of ground, got to the edge of a field and gave out a call. A bird hammered inside 200 yards so they quickly threw the decoys out and got set up. Within 10 minutes the bird worked across the field and into the decoys. Mike dropped the hammer.
The boys got Mike’s bird hauled back to the truck and they drove to a different farm. The intentions were to walk and call along a crick bottom and see if they could strike a gobble. As luck would have it, a group of birds were already out in the field where they wanted to go. The terrain allowed them to use the rise to close the distance. JP hid behind the strutter decoy and Mike hung back with the camera. They inched into gun range and JP knocked down their 2nd bird within the hour.
We continued to hunt hard on Saturday, and Sunday and the results were much like the first couple days. Good gobbling off the roost, and then nothing at all. Decided to take the morning off on Monday to go and scout a couple new areas. Got back out to hunt in the evening on Monday. We did strike a few birds that sit, but nothing wanted to work into our field. We would head into Tuesday, which just happened to be Cinco de Mayo so we had to stop at the taco truck for good luck.
Tuesday was different, it was like a light switch had been flipped in the turkey woods. We had birds gobbling at every place that we went. Although most of them didn’t work to the call, it was definitely nice to hear them throughout the day! We had a couple close calls in the morning but came up short. Early afternoon we planned to do a walk-and-call on a large tract of public. We struck a bird across a large valley on our 2nd stop. We ran back to the truck and made the 10 minute drive to get around to the other side of the valley where we had heard them.
We got in position and gave out a call. As luck would have it, the birds hammered on the side of the valley where we just came from. They must have decided to go check out where we had originally called to them from. Either way, we turned them around and they started coming back to our side. After about 10-15 minutes, 3 strutters came onto the field a couple hundred yards away. They worked beautifully across the green field and into the decoys before Dylan torched the lead strutter.
Although 3rd season yielded 4 birds for us, it has been an extremely tough week of hunting. Seems like the hens aren’t nesting like they should be, and they are keeping the toms tied up for the better part of the days. I said it last week and I will say it again today, something is going to break soon and the hunting is going to get really good. Fingers crossed that this is the week when shit gets crazy in the turkey woods.