Written by Janice Baer
Now that we are deep into winter, it’s time to start thinking about spring turkey hunting. It’ll make these “cabin fever” days seem a little more bearable.
Have you received your catalogs from Cabela’s, Bass Pro, or other such companies yet? If you have, it’s time to see if there are any new turkey hunting goodies that you think you might want or need.
Has your turkey vest seen better days? Could you use a new slate call after losing the companion striker? Have you always gun hunted turkeys sitting under a tree and now wish to try a bow from the confines of a ground blind? Perhaps a jake turkey decoy to go along with your hen decoy could be on your next sales receipt. Now is the time to dream... and buy.
Are all your turkey hunting clothes in good repair? Are they the correct size? Maybe you were diligent in your New Years resolution and you’ve lost weight. Perfect excuse to get a new outfit! Or if you’ve indulged a little more than you should have this past fall and winter, and your existing clothing doesn’t fit you, then it’s still a great excuse to buy a new outfit! In my view, either way it’s a win-win situation.
I personally hunt turkeys with a bow from my ground blind, so I am only concerned about wearing black clothing on my upper body, including a black facemask and black camo paint and black gloves. Your pants will not be seen in any way from inside a blind. And since turkeys can’t smell you, keeping your clothing scent-free is not an issue.
You will soon need to make sure all your gear is together (clothing, weapon, knife, etc) so that when you depart for the hunting grounds, you know you’ll not be forgetting anything. And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget your license!
Now is also the time to begin to track the turkeys’ daily movements so you know what their travel route is on any given day. What trees do they tend to roost in?
Take a drive around your hunting area before dawn and at dusk to hear or see where they may be roosting. Sound out an owl or bird call or other such call, to get a shock gobble from a close by tom. Even slamming a car door will produce a shock gobble so you can pinpoint what tree they might be in.
Is their first stop the neighbor’s cut cornfield for grasshoppers? Is their next stop another neighbor’s barren garden used for dusting? Do they then move on to the nearest oak savannah to search for last year’s acorn drop?
It’s a good idea to know where they might be on any given day in your hunting territory, this way you’ll have a good idea where you could set up.
I like to not only drive around the vicinity of my hunt, but to ask the people that live around the area if they’ve seen turkeys and if so, where and at what time of day. Any info I can get is greatly appreciated help.
Hopefully this has stoked your enthusiasm so you have a leg up come turkey hunting time this spring. Happy hunting!
Written by Jana Waller
An intrusive buzzing interrupted my deep sleep as the green glow of the alarm clock filled the cabin’s dark bedroom. Mid November not only brings early mornings in Wisconsin, but it’s typically the heart of the rut which will get any avid bowhunter’s heart pounding.
After surveying an arial map of the property, my Dad and I along with 4 other hunting buddies, selected our stands and headed out agreeing to meet back at the cabin for lunch and a “deer report”. Sitting on a small water hole on the north end of the woods, I felt confident that a big bruiser would come in for a much needed drink. Three long hours into the sit I spotted movement off to my left. I watched as an 8 pointer meandered through the downfalls, working his way towards my stand. The two year old buck needed another year’s growth so I wasn’t disappointed when he simply turned and slowly walked away from me, more interested in acorns than the water hole.
Climbing down at noon, I was puzzled with the lack of action in the woods, but it turned out to be the consensus. Three days of long, lonely sits left us all a bit bewildered. Where had all of the deer gone? It wasn’t uncommon to see over a dozen deer per sit just a couple of years ago. All of my hunting partners were reporting the same disheartening intel- the woods were very quiet this year.
After a hardy bowl of venison chili for lunch, I headed to the south end of the property to sit in a spot we call the ‘hard-to-find’ stand, situated among some thick brush and oaks. Three long hours had passed with only one forked horn buck spotted. With only 30 minutes of light remaining, I stood at the ready with my release clipped to the string. A slight crunch of leaves suddenly grabbed my attention. A brown body of a deer moved quickly through the thick brush as I pulled back my bow in case it was a buck.
Antlers appeared as the 8 pointer stepped into a small opening at 25 yards and I sent my arrow flying. My broadhead made a resounding thump, hitting the buck at a slightly quartering angle. The shot was a few inches further back than I had intended, but I felt confident the shuttle T broadhead would do its job as the buck went crashing through the trees. I waited the standard 20 minutes until climbing down and rushing back to the cabin to share my exciting news.
After dinner we donned our headlamps and began the search. Entering the woods at 7:30pm, we shined the leaves and quickly found a great blood trail where the buck had crossed an opening. Excited about the sign, we followed the trail for an hour before it started to lessen. Coming across a huge downfall, we searched left and right but the trail seemed to vanish. Backing out of the woods, we decided to resume our search in the early morning.
|Resuming the search in the morning light
||Finding good sign
In the bright morning light we were able to pick up the trail where we left off. Scanning the downfalls, my boyfriend Jim spotted the 8 pointer’s rack lying among the branches. “There he is!” he shouted. Sprinting over to the buck, my excitement quickly turned to disgust as I realized the coyotes found my buck before we did.
|A gruesome discovery
||Jana and half of the Wisconsin 8 pointer
From the amount of destruction, it was obvious that a pack of coyotes had dined on what was to be my year's venison. Elated to have found the beautiful buck, I couldn’t help but also feel disappointed in the waste. The answer to our question “What happened to all the deer?” was obvious. Along with back-to-back harsh winters, it was likely we were losing a large number of fawns to coyotes and other predators that have gone unmanaged on our property.
|Happy to have recovered her archery kill, Jana poses with her 2010 Wisconsin 8 pointer.
Salvaging a portion of the backstraps, we fired up the grill that evening and enjoyed a wonderful venison dinner at the cabin. Raising our glasses in thanks for the harvest, we made plans for next month's hunt: a hunt that included a coyote call and a 17HMR.