Regional Reports-Midwest

Black Hills

Chasing a Merriam's gobbler in the scenic Black Hills is one of the Midwest's must-do spring rituals, and there's no one who knows more about that rite than John Hauer. Hauer, who founded the Turkey Track Club, one of the nation's oldest commercial turkey camps, says weather plays a big role in hunting Black Hills gobblers. "A lot of folks have Opening Day Syndrome; they want first crack at the birds. But in many years the best hunting comes later." Hauer notes that early in the season birds may be flocked up at low elevations. "It's not unusual to have snow, and that puts turkeys in the timber, working on pine nuts, seeds and acorns. I tend to like it later, when the flocks have broken up. Plus the weather is warmer and the birds are in the open, working on greens and insects." Hauer warns that late-season toms may be tough customers, however. "There are fewer toms, and the remaining ones are educated. There are two keys to tagging one: locating roost sites with elk whistles or predator calls, and being adaptable. You need to find the tactic and the call that works on that gobbler that day." Contact: John Hauer (435-259-8015).