Posted by Brad Rucks, Publisher
Wisconsin's youth turkey season took place this past weekend, a few days before the opening of our state's regular season. During this special weekend, any youth age 12-16 with a tag for the regular season can hunt. If the youth doesn't get a turkey on youth weekend, he or she can still use their tag during the regular season. The season couldn't get here fast enough for me because I finally had a 12-year-old I could take afield -- my daughter Cassie.
Unfortunately, the forecast called for some nasty weather. During the past week we'd had nothing but rain and high winds. To make matters worse, the weatherman was calling for snow. By Saturday morning the ground was completely covered in white. Snow fell throughout the day, and turkey activity on our hunting ground was non-existent. I told Cassie before she went to bed Saturday night that the weather was supposed to clear and the turkeys should be gobbling in the morning.
Well, I was partially right. The skies had cleared but the birds were silent on the roost. In fact, we never heard a gobble, not even in the distance, that morning. It was sunny but windy. Patience has never been a virtue of mine, so it wasn't long before we were walking and trying to strike a bird. At the second spot we stopped to call I thought I heard a gobble. We set up and I called again. The response was immediate and sounded closer. I waited a few minutes and hit the call again and once again he gobbled. There was creek between us and the bird. It sounded like the bird was headed for a dike that would bring him across the creek. The next time I called, to my surprise two birds gobbled. Now we had the original gobbler coming from one direction and pair coming from another.
I told Cassie to swing her gun toward a birch tree on the left because that bird sounded closest. Seconds later we saw him running toward us. At 35 yards he stopped. Cassie was aiming but she had forgotten to take the safety off. I whispered, "Take the gun off safety." She tried frantically but couldn't reach the button. I watched her fingers work toward it and finally she was able to push the button. At the click the bird stopped and lifted his head for a better look. This gave Cassie time to put the red dot on his neck. A second later the gun roared and the turkey was knocked backward. I knew she had made a great shot. I jumped to my feet and she asked, "Should I shoot him again?" I told that bird wasn't going anyplace. She was jumping up and down and all she could say was, "I shot a turkey! I shot a turkey!" I gave her a high-five and a big hug and told her it just doesn't get any better than this.
It was a great hunt that will make the memory of a lifetime. When we got to the bird we saw it was a beautiful 2-year-old with an 8.5" beard. He weighed 20 pounds.
Some in the hunting community frown on allowing someone to hunt before the regular season, but in my eyes it's much better to let our youngsters experience turkey hunting when the birds are responding well to calling so they can catch the fever. If hunting is to grow it has to come from us getting more youths involved. I know one young hunter who already can't wait for the next season to start!