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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 4-17-2013

by Mark Walters

Wood County Turkey Hunt

Hello friends,

This past March and early April was the most difficult scouting seasons that I have ever witnessed for reliably patterning turkey movements. I spent parts of five separate days speed walking forests, and fields that were snow covered in northern Juneau County and regularly came to the same conclusion. I was not finding any sign of regular turkey activity.

Two days before Wisconsin’s Youth Turkey Hunt, I was driving back from Marshfield and spotted about fifty turkey feeding in a field that recently had manure spread on it. I stopped and asked the landowner for permission to bring two kids hunting and was given the green light.

Friday, April 5th
High 38, low 26

Jeffrey Van Meter is in the 6th grade at Necedah Middle School and has been a classmate of my daughter Selina’s, since kindergarten. This past winter I hunted with Jeffrey in KAMO’s annual “Joe” deer hunt and he shot two deer with one shot and won a brand new 243 as well. Today, Jeffrey, Selina and myself would be putting a blind up on the edge of the field that I had discovered the day before.

There were 43 turkeys scratching snow and eating whatever the heck turkey eat when manure has been spread on a field (I believe that it is undigested corn).

The kids and I had an important revelation this afternoon when we tried putting out our stakes for the turkey decoys that we would be using the following morning. The ground was frozen. Jeffrey had an idea that we could use rocks and so that is what we did.

The 43 turkeys in the field was one heck of an incentive to get out of bed at 4:00 the next morning.

Saturday, April 6th
High 37, low 29

Guess what? It snowed again last night and today it was windy, damp, and cold! First, after the 35-mile drive from my house, the trek to the blind and placing the decoys, we just sat down and just like that, 43 turkey flew from their roosts, and landed literally ten-yards out of shotgun range. It was really cool to watch these birds, it was obvious that they had just woke up and for a full ten minutes everyone of them stood right where it had landed.

Next, we had our first hint that the 41-hens and two huge toms had no desire for our decoys when they began feeding away from our set up.

Next, I get a text that fellow KAMO member Brian Osbourne, who was guiding his daughter, McKayla and long time KAMO Kid, Jamie Bistodeau was done, and both girls had just shot their toms.

Folks this was a big day for the three of us! We spent 13-hours in the blind. Most of the day there were turkey in the field and three times, bearded hens, and single jakes came darn near in range.

Selina and Jeffrey used food, books, close calls with turkey, hot cocoa, and a lot of joking around as ways to pass the day away. Close to dark we headed back to the truck and I spotted an old set of bear tracks in the snow, a short distance later we came across tracks made by a black bear that very same day.

Sunday, April 7th
High 44, low 31

Today, it was just Selina and myself and I am proud to say we have a blast hunting together. On Friday night she told me that she didn’t care if she got her turkey this weekend because then she could hunt the regular season. If you have followed this 12-year-old in this column the last two years, you are aware that while hunting, if it can go wrong, it will.

Today we upped her weekend total to 19-hours in the blind. Our mood was excellent, we laugh, eat, read and for the most part, watch for turkey.

Late this morning, Selina’s tom was coming into range. As usual she was super cool and when I asked her if she was nervous, she said no, as she held up the 12-gauge just seconds away from pulling the trigger.

Just like that, the gobbler and the hens it was with looked up, spotted a free roaming springer spaniel, and ran into the woods.

On April 17th we will try again! Sunset