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In the Turkey Woods 2012: Leaving Us Laughing

strutter

There he was, strutting 60 yards from the road.

No matter how good turkey hunting is at the end of the season — and it was good — there's always a bird that leaves you shaking your head and gets you thinking about next spring.

I met mine on the final day of Wisconsin's Spring 2012 hunt. As I drove past a familiar farm, I saw him strutting in the corner of a plowed field, with three jakes as wing-men. After chatting briefly with the landowner, I slipped out of my truck and gave chase.

I eased through the woods until I was about 100 yards from where I'd seen him. At my first soft yelps, he hammered out a response.

"What a way to end the season," I thought.

And that was the last I heard from him. I eased to the field edge and didn't see the bird, so I moved forward about 100 yards. Again, my first yelps were met by a gobble — 100 yards farther west.

You guessed it. He shut up again. After a few minutes, I looked for the bird and then slipped to the edge of the property to make a last stand. A crow sounded off in the distance, and the gobbler responded — again 100 yards to the west. I got him going briefly with a box all, but then — all together, now — he shut up.

I waited for a half-hour and then checked the neighbor's field. Nothing. It was time to call it a season.

That evening, my phone lit up with a text from a buddy.

"The bird was back at Ray's," it said. "Right in that corner. Tried to bushwhack him, but he slipped into the woods."

Figuring the turkey had a sense of humor, I drove past the farm at noon the next day. Sure enough, there was the gobbler — strutting 60 steps off the road, right where I'd set up the previous day.

Like I said, one always leaves you laughing.

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