NEW SITKA Ambient 75

WI Hunts

The blue arrow above is where an old logging exits the wood lot. The bulk of the birds were roosted just to the right of that blue arrow; within 100 yards or so of our set up.
Another Tom was roosted in the big oaks behind the red arrow, about 175 yards away.

The birds flew down in to the field just north of the logging road. Unfortunately, none wanted to get closer than 70 yards. I think maybe the blind was bothering them a bit. After watching them hang out for an hour I decided to try something . . . stupid. I had one of those tom umbrellas that I slipped out under the blind and popped open. They weren’t having any of that. They worked in to the woods with purpose and disappeared. In my defense, I kinda knew it was dumb move. I don’t know if doing it anyway makes it better or worse.

About ten minutes later the birds started talking again. After listening to this for about ten minutes my frustration level was through the roof. I decided it was time for a bold (as opposed to stupid) move. I stacked up all the gear in the blind and started sliding the whole set up back in to the woods. Six yards later I figured I’d completely jacked up the hunt and said screw it, we sat down and waited.

Moving the blind back into the woods a half a dozen yards accomplished a few things. First, the entire blind was out of the line of sight of any birds in the field. The shade from the trees helped hide us a bit better. Finally, it cut down the massive amount of glare off the blind on a bright and clear morning.
 
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So, the story got a bit disjointed as this went from a live thread to a dead thread. We moved the blind back and then I made post #20 a bit later. Posts #22 and #23 provided some detail and filled in some gaps. Back to the action - I sat there while he slept and called off and on to the birds 60 yards to the north.

Eventually, I heard a hen distinctly closer. She was doing a fair bit of talking and the slate seemed to be getting a good response. I just kept talking back. After a while she went quiet and I figured she had moved off in to the woods. I sat for a bit and was moving a few things around on my chair and managed to drop my slate.

I reached down to grab the call and on my way back up, I saw the aforementioned hen at ten yards. I froze in hopes she hadn’t seen me. After I was confided she hadn’t, I updated you guys with post #21 and tried to figure out how to get my son woken up quietly. I used the vice grip technique on his shoulder and my ever tightening squeeze finally stirred him.

About this time I noticed hen number two moving our way along the woods. I let my son know he needed to get in position just in case. When I saw hen number three I started to get excited. With the way the birds were still grouped up, three hens just had to have a Tom with them. However, with the blind being pretty closed up due to the sun and given how thick the woods/old clear cut were, my sight lines were limited.

Then I saw it. The tip of his fan glowing in the sun. The old cut between us and him was so thick I couldn’t see him until he was at 15 yards. I told my son to be to ready because he was close. The hens were moving out towards the decoys and the Tom kept strutting down the wood line. Due to the blind set up my son couldn’t see the Tom until he hit the ten yard mark.

I gave him the green light but I was afraid he was too close at this point. The safety clicked. The tom was now at 7 or 8 yards and starting to turn toward the decoys. I kept quiet, letting my son decide when things were right for a shot. I started to softly work the slate. After what seemed like forever the Tom ever so slightly broke strutt.

The trigger broke and the Tom dropped. My son was already working the calculus on a second shot. My experience was telling me it probably wasn’t necessary. We safetied the gun. I hopped out the blind window and hurried over to the bird just in case.


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This photo illustrates that bold move pretty well. I initially set the blind with the front corner where the turkey is at in the photo. All that old slash is what made the move such a cluster. The birds came down the edge of the trees in the grass and the Tom was about to step in to the plowed field when my son pulled the trigger. The end result may have been the same, but it definitely would have played out differently if we hadn’t moved the blind.

Talk about an exciting morning though. We had action from the get go. Lots of gobbling. Tough decisions. A dramatic finish. And grandpa watching from the cheap seats with the 12x leupolds. In the end it worked like I planned/hoped. Most of the flock went the other way, but just enough left the way they went in. The three decoy set worked. The TSS was completely unnecessary . . .
 
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Excellent! I kind of figured (or at least hoped) after you went dark for a bit that something good was happening👍👍
Yeah, had to get the bird cleaned up in time to drop it off at Maplewood Meats for smoking before they closed (2 pm) for the weekend. They’ll smoke it, halve it on the band saw, and then vac seal each half. He’ll eventually turn in to six smoked wild turkey pot pies. Also had an order of venison sausage ready for pick up. Good timing!
 
Well, youth season was two weeks ago. Now we’re in to the second week of the general season here in WI. We loaded the truck up and headed for NEW last night. This time it was my daughter’s turn. We were going in cold and only had this morning to hunt.

It rained most of Friday afternoon so that spot where my son got his bird was probably going to be a very long and muddy walk, plus another hunter had shot a bird there the day before. Our other option was an alfalfa field that held birds from time to time. The alfalfa field would be a shorter and less muddy walk but much wetter for children’s snow boots.

I opted for the alfalfa field. The spot is 80ish acres bisected by a creek bottom about 90 yards wide. Then I had to choose the east or west side of the creek. I chose the west side.
 
The 3:15 am alarm came early. Once we got up, getting dressed, breakfast, the drive, and getting the cart packed to walk out went pretty smooth. Then the problems started. We got about 100 yards in to the soaking wet alfalfa and my daughter was not happy, as her boots and socks were wet. I told her to just keep moving and that I had a dry pair of boots and socks in my bag for her. She pulled it together and we made the final 400 yards.

I got everything set up and then tended to her boots. Socks weren’t just wet - they were soaked. I got her comfortable and she went to sleep pretty quick. Because everything had gone so smoothly we had almost an hour before shooting light. In addition, it was quite cloudy which would add some time until the birds got active.

I waited patiently. The countryside started to wake up but the gobbles didn’t come. Finally, shortly before legal shooting light, I decided I’d try some yelping just in case they were around but silent. Nothing. Disappointment was building. I thought, maybe a couple of times, that I heard part of a gobble a long ways off. However, it was getting windy and there was an interstate 400 yards away so I think it was probably just my ears trying to hear a Tom into existence.

Shooting light came and went. Still nothing. I texted my Dad that I figured the morning was a bust. After another ten minutes I pulled out the binos to have a look around and pass the time. Again, nothing. I put the binos away and sat up and there she was. A lone hen had crossed into the alfalfa 150 yards out. Promising, but lone hens often disappoint.

Five minutes went by. I looked left and down the fence line was another hen, and then another, and another. They had to have just dropped there out of the trees. A lone hen is one thing, but four hens had to have male friend of some sort. I waited and watched. A minute or two went by and then I saw something exciting - a dark spot just on the other side of the fence line. My gut said Tom.

Then, just like that, he and his buddy were in our field. Time for an alarm clock. I woke my daughter up, pointed out the birds, got head nets on, and then hearing protection. I threw out a few yelps. The problem as I saw it now was the toms had two options. Option A was now five gals within a few yards that looked single and ready to mingle. Or, they could check out Option B, a young punk flexing for his lady friend next to some big cube thing.
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So, back to the action.

I texted the photo of the birds to my Dad and made a few more yelps on the mouth call. The two toms moved down the hill several yards from their position in the photo above. They paused for a bit and seemed to survey the situation. Then they put their heads down and started walking, not directly at us, but in our general direction.

I scrambled to get the gun and tripod set up in the best possible position. The toms covered about 60 yards and then started to turn directly at the decoys. The set-up was working and they were hooked. They were on a mission and covered the last hundred or so yards in short order. Then the show began.

They came right in to the hen and jake I had set - both in full strut at ten yards. They gobbled a couple of times. And for the next two minutes we watched as they were either too close together or too close to the decoys. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw trouble. One of the hens was closing fast and she was headed for the gap between the blind and the toms. Danger close.

I whispered to my daughter not to move. She turned her head to look at me as I whispered. 🤦‍♂️ Luckily the hen didn’t spook. While we’re waiting for the threat to pass those old toms just kept strutting and strutting. Another couple of minutes went by and we watched a couple more gobbles . . . and finally the bigger of the two started to move to our right and gained a few yards of separation from both the decoys and his buddy. One shot and that was it.


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