Have you heard the trite statement, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”? In my opinion, that statement should refer to turkey hunting during the spring turkey season. Turkey hunting in Wisconsin is a relatively new sport. When we first started to have spring turkey seasons, hunters could hunt until noon. After a few years, the hunting time was extended to late afternoon, and for recent years the hunting hours were extended until after sunset.
Until this year the hunting days were from Wednesday until the following Sunday. Then the next hunting days began again on Wednesday and ended again on Sunday. There were five hunting periods, each with a period of two days when there was a closed period for hunting. Those two days allowed hunters to do some scouting without getting in the way of other hunters. The two days off gave the birds a rest as well as the hunters. Several hunters have told us they killed birds this year on Monday and Tuesday, but the birds were quite wary.
When turkeys were reintroduced in Wisconsin, several game managers told us that most likely we would never have a huntable population of wild turkeys in northern Wisconsin because the climate is too harsh. Many of us are glad that the turkeys are not able to read. The turkeys are doing well in northern Wisconsin.
Two weeks ago we sat in a blind waiting for a tom turkey to come past us within shooting range. Our area to hunt was south of Eau Claire on the farm fields of a friend. On the first day of our hunting season, my partner was my long-time hunting and fishing partner, Tom Twesme. The area where we were hunting had experienced several inches of rain the week prior to our hunt. The rain had transformed the farm fields to mud, and we were unable to use the pick-up to get around. We had to walk from place to place. Our boots seemed to expand several sizes as the mud stuck to them.
That first morning found me sitting on a stool in a blind on the edge of a picked cornfield. As daylight was trying to conquer darkness, I was able to hear geese as they were looking for corn. At one time I thought about Mr. McEldowney as I listened to grouse drumming on three sides of me. Mr. McEldowney lives to hunt grouse, and asks me if I am seeing any grouse each time I see him.
When one sits silently at the time of day when daylight is spreading across the landscape, it seems as though the whole world is coming to life. As I sat in that fencerow, I watched 16 deer moving about as they fed on the corn that was left behind last fall. Yes, several turkeys fed on the corn, but they were out of range, and did not seem interested in my call.
After perhaps an hour, I heard a shot from the direction where Tom was sitting. It didn’t take long until Tom walked over a ridge with a 20-pound tom over his shoulder. We lost one day of hunting because of rain that also kept us off the trout streams that were already over their banks.
On the third day of hunting we were joined by our son, Craig, his son, Jack and Tom’s son-in law, Fernando. Jack wanted to sit in the same place where he had killed a tom two years ago. Although we all saw turkeys, no one got a shot that day before we were rained out.
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One week ago we attended the 78th Annual Convention of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress in Manitowoc. Five residents representing each of the 72 Wisconsin counties gather each year to consider hunting, fishing and trapping regulations for our state. Four individuals from Oneida County represented the outdoors persons in our county-Ben Loma, Jim Heffner, Ed Choinski and this scribbler.
Our delegation donated a shooting bench that the Oneida County delegates constructed from salvaged lumber that Ben had salvaged from a job. The bench was used as a raffle item, and attracted a lot of interest.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column appearing in the Star Journal. To comment on this story, see below.