U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-— Turkeys were talking on the first two days of the hunt, responding to calls issued from a well-camouflaged blind. None were coming in close enough to be within shotgun range or to be visible.
It was the last day for the six-year-old to hunt, Sunday morning on April 23, 2023. He was going back home, a hundred miles away, after church. There were a few hours from dawn to getting ready for church. Church started at 10:00 a.m.
The frost was thick on the roofs of the vehicles parked in the drive in front of the 50-year-old house. This correspondent wished them a good hunt as they drove off to the blind, in the dark, three miles away. It was a good spot. A nice tom had been taken by the landowner, a cousin, a few days previously. The turkeys were not answering calls on Sunday morning.
Grandpa made an executive decision and decided to go to the birds.
The pair drove toward the old hunting shack in the woods. It was across the river and two miles into the woods. A heavy snow drift still blocked the unimproved road. They parked the old F150 pick-up and walked back, tiptoeing and stopping every hundred yards or so to use a homemade turkey wing bone call. The old logging road wound in and out among the trees and rolling terrain of the sand, gravel, and boulder ridge of the esker left over from the last ice age.
They heard an answer. A few moments later, a big tom was seen, strutting and turning with the showy fan tail fully displayed, in silhouette, over a hundred yards away at the top of the ridge. Grandpa let out a cluck.
The tom was interested. It slowly started moving toward the pair while strutting and displaying. Grandpa and Grandson were well camouflaged. Grandson stayed quiet and did not move. The big tom was getting closer. Grandpa took his fingers and imitated a turkey using its foot to scratch some leaf litter on the ground. The tom started coming at a brisk walk, closer, closer, in sight, out of sight, in those constantly changing lanes of clear vision which exist in a hardwood forest.
The tom appeared, thirty-five yards out, in the clear. The Benelli, loaded with turkey rounds of number 6 shot, bellowed. The tom went down. It was flopping as if shot in the head. Grandson watched as Grandpa sprinted to the bird and made sure it did not recover and run off. It was the end of a successful turkey hunt.
When the tom was examined, a pellet was found half embedded in the lower part of a leg bone. It appeared to be a 7 1/2 shot. When the bird was dressed out, small patches of infection were found on both of the lower thighs. Seasoned hunters speculated the bird was shot at extreme range, previously embedding the shot in the leg bone and causing the two spots of infection in the thighs.
The tom may or may not have survived the wound and infections if Grandpa and the boy had not humanely harvested it.
Turkeys did not exist in northern Wisconsin when this correspondent was six, 65 years ago. Expert opinion was wild turkeys could not withstand the winters in northern Wisconsin. Today, the turkey population in Wisconsin is burgeoning throughout the state. It appears the experts were wrong.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.