I woke up at 3:30 a.m. from a “long” 4 hours of sleep filled with dreaming of big ol thunder chickens (a.k.a wild turkey) and what that first gobble off the roost is going to sound like at day break the next morning. Functioning on such little sleep was harder than I thought it would be, but going turkey hunting makes it all go away. I slowly get out of bed barely able to stand and reach for my camo pants. Within minutes I’m dressed and ready to hit the beautiful Wisconsin hardwoods in search of that big spring gobbler. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee fills the house, I inhale a bowl of Life cereal and head out the door.
It was an absolutely perfect morning for gobbling–a cool 32 degrees, clear sky, and very calm winds almost always means a pretty good morning filled with hot-headed thunder chickens gobbling on the roost to attract those very lively and picky hens. My dad and I load the car with everything we need for a day of hunting, and then we were off. I crank the country tunes, which pumps me up even more for the hunt. With a 20 minute ride till we get to the farm, I have plenty of time to wake up to some guitar-picking, drum-beating country music. A deer, a fisher, and a strong stench from a skunk that had been hit along side the highway was our entertainment on the way to the farm.
We finally arrive at the farm, and I immediately am so jacked for the morning hunt. The woods come alive and fill with gobbles echoing through the valley. Now my mission on this hunt was to shot my first gobbler with my sweet new bow–a Mission Eliminator II. But just in case a tom didn’t come into bow range, I also had my trusty Benelli Nova 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 3 ½ inch Winchester supreme turkey loads just in case. I grab my bow, load my shotgun, and sling that over my shoulder and then we are off.
The dark and very quiet walk down the trail to my blind, where my dad and I will be sitting to start off the morning, seemed like it took forever to get to, but it was only 10 minutes. I was just that excited. I set out the decoys 15 yards from the front of the blind.
After getting the decoys put out, setting up the camera in the blind, and getting all situated, we are ready to start filling the valley with gobbles. After waiting about 20 minutes for the sun to start coming up over the horizon, like it does every morning, someone flips on a switch and the wood comes alive. We had gobbles coming from right over our heads, from the left, from the right, and pretty much 360 degrees around our blind. We were officially in turkey heaven.
As the sun rose higher into the morning sky, the gobbling continued until the time they flew off the roost, it was like that switch that was turned on at daybreak had just suddenly been turned off. The hotheaded Toms were no longer hot headed. We sat in total confusion, wondering why the heck they all just shut up and where the heck did all the toms go? We sat in the blind for about an hour after everything got quiet, and about the time we were going to get out and walk to the farm to see if we could get something to gobble, we saw why the Toms were no longer gobbling…they had no reason to gobble. The big boss gobbler on the farm came out with four hens, and as I called to him with some loud yelps he could have cared less about us. So we packed up the camera, decoys, and calls, and went to see if we could find a lone gobbler.
We just step out of the blind and take a few steps and, “gobble, gobble, gobble!” A Tom gobbled right behind us! We quickly get set up and he just keeps gobbling, I wouldn’t even call and he would gobble. But I messed up on this one. I thought he was somewhere where he wasn’t, and he ended up working right along the fence line up through the valley right in front of the blind. Darn. After sitting there for a little and watching this monster Tom strut up the valley, and shaking off the disappointment of setting up wrong on him we kept on walking to the fence line on the way back end of the farm, this always seems to be a hot spot for later in the morning gobbling. I stand right by the fence line and hammer on my mouth call, yelping my loudest yelps, when I hear, “gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.” Four different Toms answer my call!
My dad and I quick get set up, and set the decoys. Once set up I call to them again and they all fire there loudest gobble. “They are coming,” I turn and say to my dad with the camera in hand and ready.
We sat for about a half hour with nothing happening, I’d call and there would be no response. I couldn’t believe it.
“Well, dad, you want to head back to the car and go and get some breakfast?” I turn and ask my dad.
“Sure,” my dad responds.
We go out pick of the decoys, and right before we leave I tell my dad, “Listen I’m going to call one more time just to make sure.”
Well that one call got the attention of a tom responding at the top of his turkey lungs. He was no more than 100 yards away! My dad and I couldn’t believe it! My dad runs and sits by the tree quick as I throw the decoys out and run to my spot. I call again and he hammers back. This is the one, I say to myself in my head.
It wasn’t 5 minutes later when I hear the spitting and drumming. I look to my right and on the ridge I see a monster Wisconsin thunder chicken strutting on the ridge top. It looked like he had a light bulb behind his fan. The sun just lite it up and the iridescent on his feathers made him look green. His head was redder than a polished red corvette.
My heart was pounding, and my whole body was shaking like a leaf. I thought for sure he was going to see me, but he never did. He slowly strutted down to the decoys but he didn’t like what he saw. Finally, when he got in a clearing, BANG! He was big 20-pound Wisconsin thunder chicken, with a 10-inch beard and ¾-inch spurs. He never moved again. I stood up and let out a big: “YEAH! WE GOT HIM!” I was so excited, I couldn’t stop shaking.
Anytime I harvest an animal, no matter if it’s a big tom, a big freak-nasty whitetail, or a pheasant, my excitement is always the same. I am so grateful to be able to spend time in God’s amazing woods and harvest some of the most amazing animals. There is nothing that can give you the excitement or adrenaline rush as a wild turkey coming in right to you. I encourage young hunter who has never turkey hunted to try it.