Wait all winter long (and they are long ones up here!) go out with my girls last weekend for the youth hunt, and get all geeked up. And my Wisconsin season lasts 46 minutes from listening to trigger pull and floppage. Went out to camp Tuesday afternoon. After dropping off my gear I hit the road to do some highway scouting and flock location. Roost time up here is between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm so I figure anything I see after 7:00 pm should be close to where I can find them in the moring. I found a gobbler group about 7:10 pm. 3 Jakes and a couple 2 yr. olds. Looked as good as any so far. The birds were feeding in a local county campground (Spaulding Pond). I was suprised to see no hunters camping there. I drove past and turned around to see where the birds would head. As I slow rolled back toward the campground the birds flew accross the road into some county land. I knew where I would start in the morning.
I pulled into the campground at 5:10 am. and sat outside my van listening for a gobble. After no responce from my owl calling or my goose caller...except a couple local geese on the pond. I moved accross the road and decided to just set up and do some soft calling...those birds had to be close. After walking into the woods a ways I noticed that it was only about 150 yards wide. Opening up to a marsh on the other side. I found a good opening and set my lone hen decoy. I still was waiting for my first gobble of the morning at 5:30 am. when I did a little soft tree yelping. It was answered by some yelping from about 70 yards away over my left shoulder. I waited awhile and gave some more soft stuff. This time I heard a bird fly down...I figured a hen must have come down to see who was in her space. Now it's only about 5:40 am and it's pretty early for a fly down...but I roll with it. I pick up the volume and some clucks. Just then the geese leave the pond and there honking get me a gobble from the roosted birds to my left. Now it's on! I cluck they gobble...yelp, they gobble...couple purrs and they gobble. Now I figure I will just be quit till they hit the ground. That's when I see a bird walking in the marsh...then I remember that early bird flydown and think this might be a gobbler trying to get some before the other boys get out of the tree. I hit him with some cutting and his head colors up. He turns in and heads right for the decoy. A couple more cuts and he hits strut...full fan I know he's atleast a two year old. Slowly working my gun into position...I listen to him spit and drum...man I love spring! During one of his spins I catch a good look at his beard...not a monster by any means...but it's long enough that it hangs out and down...I guess in the 7" to 8" range. I sit and watch the show...strut and spin...spit and drum. The something clicks in my head..." take your first best shot, you might not get another chance". I pulled the trigger and ended the show. Looked at my watch and it was 6:01 am. The birds off my left shoulder kept gobbling till a booming gobble came from over by the campground. I guess me firing up the boys in the tree and made the area boss angry...and he was coming! The boys flew down and hit the trail...but the boss kept coming...soon he was on my side of the road and looking to kick some butt or get some loving! He gobbled his way right into the clearing I was set up in. At 20 yards he sure looked like a dandy. I would say 11" beard and some weight. And I will admit I thought about taking him out...but I didn't. Finally he just had enough and walked out the way he came in. I think maybe I'll pick up an over the counter tag for the 5th or 6th week. Stats for my bird were 18lbs. 6.75" beard, and 3/4" spurs.