Snowshoes and turkeys...only up North

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Snowshoes and turkeys...only up North

Postby dewey » April 30th, 2013, 12:17 pm

Here is an article about a season B turkkey hunter using snow shoes for his turkey hunt in Minnesota. When I started reading this article I was expecting to see Charlie Elk :D ... ing-turkey

EDITOR'S NOTE: The arctic April had made many a memory for Minnesotans who didn't let a little snow scratch their plans. Barry Shoultz has a tale to share regarding his unconventional turkey hunt.

CARLTON COUNTY, Minn. -- In more than 20 years of turkey hunting in southeast Minnesota and along the St. Croix River, I never had worn snow camouflage. Hunts usually required packing mosquito and tick repellent and sunscreen. But then came April 2013.

This year's turkey hunt for me was in Carlton County -- land of not-so-many turkeys, which, incidentally, had received more than 50 inches of snow in the previous 23 days. My lifetime collection of successful hunting strategies and wisdom was tossed to the wind and over the

Barry Shoultz of Kettle River, Minn., hoists a 22-pound wild turkey he shot April 24, 2013, while standing in snowshoes in Carlton County. The snowy April forced many spring turkey hunters to adopt unorthodox tactics. (Photo courtesy Barry Shoultz) knee-deep snow. This was going to be one unconventional hunt.
I dug out my deep-walled pull sled for ice fishing and loaded it with my tattered decoys, portable seat, bag of calls and thermos of coffee. Snowshoes and a walking stick were required this year, a first for me.

Day one of Season B proved to be relentless and was a bust. Day two was marked by a gobble from a distant tom before snow blasted through horizontally, adding more drudgery. As the sun waned toward the western tree line, I decided to scout the area by truck. The road to the east, which displays turkeys most any time, was void. The road north gave up no sign, as well. But then I sighted a lonely big tom on the return drive. I watched it and immediately planned my strategy.
The sled and snowshoes on the crusty snow were as noisy as a marching band, so I gathered my gear so it would be in place for a quick, silent setup in the morning across the road from the general area where I spotted the tom. I was so pumped that sleep was hard to muster, knowing that big ol' boy and I were going to meet in the morning.

Finally, morning came with a clear sky and a visible sunrise. Tiptoeing with snowshoes proved challenging and caused me to arrive at my spot about 10 minutes past legal starting time. That was all right: Silence is golden.

My first soft hen calls got an immediate gobble from about 300 yards away, maybe farther. As difficult as it is at times like this, I kept quiet. The gobbles got closer. Silence. I purred again. The gobbles were closing in at about 150 yards. Then, 100.

At this point, I realized I was extremely uncomfortable, and any movement to adjust how I was sitting, if not done right away, would be a bust. I did an unconventional thing: I stood.

There was plenty of brush to allow movement before he got any closer. I stood behind a young poplar with an 8-inch diameter trunk. It had a conveniently positioned branch for a gun rest. My snow camo was perfect for the standing position and surrounding. And I was comfortable.

I waited. He gobbled closer.

My first sighting of this ol' boy strutting was about 60 yards away. Back and forth he strutted and gobbled for the next 30 minutes. He wanted my decoys to come to him, but they were playing hard to get. It was driving him crazy.

Another tom -- smaller, but competition for the big boy -- came into view. I purred once, and Mr. Gobbler started my way, stopping to fan his tail and strut and then continue his walk to my decoys. At 25 yards he provided the perfect opportunity. My morning hunt was over in 40 minutes. But the memory of this 22-pounder will never leave me.

This year's unusual weather might cause your hunt to be a bit unconventional. Adapt to the elements at hand, and you might find a memory to cherish.

Barry Shoultz, a longtime resident of White Bear Lake, is an avid outdoorsman. He now lives in Kettle River, Minn.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mahatma Gandhi

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer


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