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Perfection for Starters

As Steve Pethke and I hit the woods for the opening morning of Wisconsin's Spring 2011 turkey season, we were greeted by ideal conditions: no wind, crisp temperatures and a clear sky.

The sky was so bright, in fact, that Steve alertly spotted a turkey on the limb about 50 steps ahead of us. We backed out of the area and set up at the crest of a long ridge that bisected two hollows.

Soon, several hens answered my tree yelps, so I figured we were OK. A gobbler sounded off twice from about 200 yards away but then went silent. I thought about chasing him, but by then, the hens had flown down and were headed toward us. Within minutes, Steve was pinned down.

Then a gobble echoed from about 100 steps across the hollow. The longbeard had apparently flown down toward the ridge and was working in to the hens. I yelped softly on a slate and then went into some soft clucking and purring.

After several tense minutes of spitting, drumming and point-blank gobbling, the bird gave Steve a shot, and he made good on it.

A half-hour after legal shooting time, we'd finished a perfect opening morning. Better, the gobbler had two beards. (The picture makes it appear that the bird has three beards, but one actually has a split base.)

I'm not sure if the rest of Wisconsin's turkey season can live up to the opener. But for now, I'm happy just to savor a perfect spring day.

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