A last-minute turkey

Mark Walters • OUTDOOR COLUMNIST

Wisconsin’s Youth Turkey Hunt is an excellent way to get kids outdoors and hunting in a very simple and positive way.

Each year my 14-year-old daughter, Selina, and I choose a different place to hunt and we always make a weekend of it. Although Selina has put her tag on three gobblers in the last three years she has never harvested a turkey during the Youth Turkey Hunt.

This year we killed two birds with one stone. Selina and I headed down to Dodge County where we hunted and visited with my good friend Rod Bensley and his wife, Wendy, on their 200-acre pheasant hunting preserve (Roosters Run) and had a real go for it weekend of turkey hunting.

Saturday, April 11

High 62, Low 30

Up at 4:00, almost a one-mile walk to a blind that we set up last night and I think for the first time Selina’s stride is faster then mine.

Long before daylight we are sitting in our blind that once night becomes day we will be overlooking a harvested soybean field where we have placed a hen and a jake decoy.

Last night Rod, Selina and I put out the blind, saw a large flock of turkey and a whole bunch of deer and also met with a neighbor who gave Selina permission to hunt his land as well.

There are several turkeys gobbling in trees maybe 150 yards away as the sun started brightening up the eastern horizon. By 6 a.m. it is obvious by their gobbling that they have flown down and for now at least they are working away from our blind.

When Selina and I hunt turkey our blind literally becomes a bedroom, kitchen and library. Selina has two books along and a blanket (for nap time), and I have propane stove for hot cocoa, chili and brats.

We sit in opposite directions of each other so that hopefully if our quarry appears, we see it as soon as possible.

At 6:00 this morning I saw our first and what would be our last turkey of the day about 400 yards away on a hilltop. It appeared to be a male so I gave it a hello with my dad’s (the late Robert Walters’) favorite box call which Quaker Boy makes and it is a Little One- Sider.

The jake liked what he heard and in about two minutes he was cozying up to his hopeful lover.

Selina had five minutes where she could have harvested that jake but passed with the hopes that she would have a chance at a mature tom.

Selina and I put 13 hours in the blind today, loved every minute of it and at the end of the day had a great meal with Rod and Wendy.

Sunday, April 12

High 67, Low 31

A bit of a side note, I met Rod Bensley back in the fall of 2011 when my golden retriever Ice had just passed away and Fire, my current 4-year old, literally went into a severe depression as a 9-month old pup two months before her first hunting season.

Training for the hunting season was not a priority for Fire and it was Rod to the rescue.

Rod trains hunting dogs in the summer and by working with pigeons, pheasant and chukar (partridge) helped pull Fire out of a deep, dark funk.

Today as a bonus for this weekend, Rod let five chukar go for his 7-month-old Drahthaar, “Gretta,” to flush and Selina to attempt to shoot. Selina only hit one of the five chukar and was kind of embarrassed.

Later, Rod let five more chukar go and we had Fire find and flush them. Fire was really good and Selina smoked four of the five chukar.

This morning, Selina and I are in the blind at 5:15 and though there are birds gobbling in the woods, we did not see a turkey.

At 10:20 a.m. I told Selina that we had 10 minutes left to hunt as we had to take down our blind and meet Rod.

At 10:28 a.m. two beautiful toms appeared out of the woods with their eyes fixed on the decoys. We watched both toms in easy shooing range but too close to each other as they approached the decoys.

The toms put their attention onto the jake and literally knocked him off his pedestal. I told Selina when they get 3 feet apart, drop one. The biggest tom had the unfortunate luck of getting 3 feet from his comrade who was doing terrible things to my decoy. Selina put a load of lead into him, and I looked at my cell phone and it said 10:29 a.m.

We put 18 hours in the blind and had a blast!

Sunset


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