Opening Day Public Land Gobbler

Show Notes

Wisconsin's turkey season is shaping up to be a good one and it's still going strong! Despite bad weather for the Period A opener, Josh was able to connect on a public land bird at 3 o'clock on opening day. Tune in to hear how scouting, knowledge of the land, pushing through bad weather, and making a new friend resulted in a successful hunt and a kill on film!

Show Transcript

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What is going on everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you by tcam. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State. I'm your host, Josh Rayley. Thank you so [00:01:00] much for tuning in with me this week. Hey, sorry. I missed an episode.

Totally missed an episode last week. I had scheduled to record it, and man, wouldn't you know it, the night that I am scheduled to record, I start feeling sick and man about, I don't know, nine o'clock that evening. It finally hit me. I kept pushing it back in my mind thinking you'll get better.

It'll be fine. Like maybe you just ate too much at dinner. Maybe you just ate something that didn't agree with you You'll be okay. So then eight o'clock rolls around and still not feeling good. Nine o'clock rolls around. I'm thinking, man, I don't know that I'm gonna be able to record this episode this week.

And man, it just hit me like, like a bus. Just out of nowhere the stomach bug crept up on me. And it's been going around here where I am. My kids have had one cousins have had one, so it's been. It's been making the rounds, so I guess it was my turn and it's been a while, to be honest with you, since I've had a really bad, stomach [00:02:00] flu and man, this one's up there, as I just think through the last couple of ones that I've had, this stomach flu was definitely the worst.

But in the last couple anyway. And ma'am what my plan was to get you guys the story of my Wisconsin bird. Cuz last time in the last episode, I talked with my buddy Pierce and shared the Iowa story and, we were really hoping that we were gonna get to, to hunt together. Before I scheduled the Iowa trip, we were thinking that we might could work something out.

Then it turned out Pierce wasn't gonna be able to do it, and then it was like, that's okay. We'll still have Wisconsin, right? Pierce was gonna come over Wednesday morning. We're gonna meet up at the public land spot that I really enjoy hunting. And it was gonna follow me around with a camera and we were gonna make some moves on some birds.

It was gonna be awesome. We were gonna kill a bird in our minds. We were gonna kill a bird that morning. We were gonna get out to do some fishing for the afternoon. And yeah, we had a really good plan going into it. And the plan did not play out at all like we expected. I did leave Wisconsin with a bird.

I [00:03:00] did end up killing a bird on. Wednesday, which was opening day of period A there in Wisconsin in zone two. But it just didn't happen like we thought it was going to happen. So anyway, that's what this episode's gonna be all about. I'm gonna share my story of how I got that bird what I did in the days leading up to it, that I think made me very effective.

And also a little bit about my familiarity with the property and how that played into my decision making. On the afternoon that that I was actually able to tag a Turkey. Before I get too far though, I do wanna say thanks to our partners. I'm gonna lead off this week with Hunt Worth. I was actually just exchanging a couple of emails with the folks over at Hunt Worth talking about ideas for potential products or changes or tweaks here and there.

And guys, I could not be happier right now with the gear that I've got from Hunt Worth. I hunted in. Downright just like blizzard conditions pretty much in Iowa, and it kept me warm even though I didn't have all of my heat boost stuff. I [00:04:00] did have my Elkins gear, I did have my base layers. I did have my my Saskatoon vest.

Kept me plenty warm there in Iowa, hunted in Wisconsin, pouring down rain hailstorm as you're gonna hear here in just a moment. And was comfortable there. I hunted this past boy, I guess that was yesterday. Yeah, hunted yesterday morning in Georgia and it's 80 plus degrees and I was very comfortable sitting against a tree.

Now when you got out in the sun, you're walking around, it's okay. It's 80 something, you're in the sun. It's pretty, it's feeling pretty warm to be in long sleeves and long pants. But man the Durham lightweight pants and I basically just wore my base layer for the top and was very comfortable out there.

So you should go check 'em out. Hunt worth right now. Get geared up for fall. I know. Turkey seasons are really starting to wrap up. Wisconsin's got a couple of weeks left. Looks like three weeks left or so. For much of the rest of the country, seasons are really wrapping up, so it's a great time to begin to shift your focus [00:05:00] back to Whitetails and think about what you should get for the whitetail season and as you're making your decision.

I am a huge fan of the Tarn pattern. It has worked well for me in the deep South. It has worked well for me in the Midwest. It has worked well for me. In between, north Georgia ish. I guess that's the deep south for some people, but for others it's not really the deep south anymore.

So anyway, yeah, check 'em out. Hunt worth Love the tarn in pattern. And they got tons of good stuff coming up. It's actually learning about some new products that may be coming out for this next year. So if you're not quite ready to pull the trigger just yet keep your eyes on 'em because I got some good stuff coming.

Next up was OnX guys. OnX was a huge part of this Turkey hunt. I had OnX pulled up on my phone pretty much the entire time that I'm trying to make moves on these birds. Luckily, early in the season, birds were vocal and that allows you to make a play and make a move. But yeah, I wouldn't have been able to do that nearly as easily or with the confidence that I had I not had my OnX [00:06:00] Hunt app.

If you're not already using OnX, you should go check them out. You can find them on the app store of your choice. You can get a seven day free trial right now. And if you are already using OnX, you should check out their Elite membership. Tons of perks and bonuses that come along with that. You can also learn more at Onyx Maps.

Dot com. And then finally, guys, Tica title, sponsor of the show. Obviously. I'm getting my new six point OHS really dialed in and I say dialed in, like it took work to get there. It really didn't. I have found what for me, works the absolute best. I think I'm gonna put together a video maybe this afternoon on what I have found to be my most.

Enjoyable, dialed in, feeling set up when it comes to the tactic. Cams I'm running. Three different tact cam cameras, sometimes four when I'm out hunting definitely four if I'm hunting from a blind. But with the running gun style, you have to adjust and adapt and do what you can.

You don't have quite as much time to set up. [00:07:00] Sometimes, like we didn't have time to set up when when the birds were coming in, in Wisconsin, as you're gonna hear in just a minute. But those 6.0 cameras are amazing. They've cut out for me the middle routine of getting a camera. Pointed in a direction then having to open up my app and pull up the app and see exactly what the camera's pointed at and get it aimed just right.

So that I was gonna catch the action looking at my phone as kind of the screen for that. The 6.0 is to have that little screen on there, which means you turn it on, you look at where the camera's facing, it tells you exactly what you're getting in the frame, and you can back off. And get back to your hide wherever you want that to be.

So huge upgrade. I know I mention it every week in the mid roll commercial that 6.0 screen is a huge game changer. And guys, it really is. It has shortened my setup by minutes which when you've got a gobbling Turkey or when you're trying to set up on a buck early in the morning man tho those minutes are very critical.

So go check 'em out, tact Look at that 6.0. Grab yourself. Do yourself a favor. [00:08:00] Grab the universal Mount and grab a grab a stabilizer mount for your bow. If you're planning to bow hunt, if you're not planning to bow hunt, just grab the barrel mount for a gun. They are fantastic. The universal mounts, I love 'em cuz you can just screw 'em to anything.

In fact, one of my favorite pieces of equipment now is a universal mount with a 6.0 in it and just a steel rod that's threaded. I just threaded up into the universal mount and I can take that thing and just jab it down into the ground wherever I want to go. And so far. I've not had a single game animal respond negatively to it, cuz it's just a little black box up on top of a metal pole.

So I, I haven't even painted mine yet, like it's silver and it still doesn't seem like it has spooked anything yet. So anyway, T guys they're a huge supporter of this of this show and I really appreciate the partnership. I would love it if you would go support them and the other brands that support this show.

Now it is time to recap my Wisconsin Turkey season for period a. We left off the story where I [00:09:00] tagged out in Iowa on a property that used to be leased out by some folks who are well known in the hunting industry. Had quite a few people actually reach out to me and say, Hey, who are those guys that, that burned out the landowner?

I can't sell or I can't give away their information can't sell them out. But. Suffice it to say it was a really great hunt. A very quick hunt. Went back, talked to that farmer for a while afterwards, just thanking him. And he explained to me what farmers in the Midwest deal with right now.

Folks come in, they ask permission and he says, you wouldn't believe how many friends a farmer has. During deer season, and then, you people just use you for your land and for your property. Gave me a little bit of a different, I don't know, different take on things.

So guys, if you've got a farmer and he allows you to hunt on his property, be very careful not just of what you do on the property but also of just how you manage that relationship. Just don't be a jerk. Be a legitimate friend. Do[00:10:00] treat that person how you would like them to treat you if you were giving them the luxury.

Of being able to hunt on your primo ground. So anyway, went back, hung out with the farmer for a while and wasn't sure exactly how things were going to work, but I got back to the camper, got the bird all cleaned up, got my pop-up camper packed down, and ready to go. And then I went ahead and pointed in the direction of Wisconsin.

I had about a two hour drive, so I knew that I could not only make it to Wisconsin. But also get everything set up and make it out in time to do a little bit of scouting that evening. So that's exactly what I did. I headed for Wisconsin. I went scouting that evening, and right away in Wisconsin, one of the first things that I noticed is I'm like, holy cow man.

There are more birds here in zone two than I have seen in years past now. Folks may agree or disagree with what I'm seeing personally. This was a [00:11:00] confined area, maybe a circle of about five to seven miles or so where I was seeing Turkey numbers that were really high. And what I'm basing that on is I was seeing turkeys in all the places.

Where I normally see them. You've got those fields that year after year, there's a strouder or two, or three or four or maybe even more in in these fields. So not only were there more struts in the fields than I usually see, but I was also seeing turkeys in places that I didn't usually see them.

So there were lots of fields where, every other year, I was not seeing birds. Or maybe you'd see the occasional bird there, but not consistently. But man, this I realized right away, as soon as I started driving around, not only did the farms that I have permission on have a good population have the birds on them, but, All of the properties had birds on 'em that I have permission to hunt, and some additional properties that I knew that I could either gain access to most likely, or I could [00:12:00] circle around them and get at those birds on public ground.

So that first evening there, I head into a spot that is one of my favorites. It's been really good to me. I've had a little bit of success there. Early season for deer hunting, and I've had a little bit of success there during Turkey season. I haven't actually killed a Turkey in this specific spot yet, but I know they like to hang out there, especially in the early season.

Once the pressure ramps up a little bit, you can bet. It's probably not a great place to be but that's the first place where I went and wouldn't, you know it right around dusk. I hear the birds fly up, I hear them gobble on the roost, and I'm like, okay, this is gonna be, this is gonna be really good.

This is they're right where I need them to be, but it's, it's a day and a half already at this point, or, a day and an evening ahead of opening day. So it wasn't quite time yet. So get back to the camper. Do a little bit of work, get some stuff done in the evenings. I had planned to record a podcast there.

Interestingly enough, though I forgot my power [00:13:00] cord for my soundboard in Wisconsin, which meant I didn't have what I needed to actually power the stupid thing so that my microphones would work. And then obviously I didn't have any of my adapters to try to get my mic plugged into my computer, but that's okay.

It allowed me to kick back just a little bit and get ready for the next day. I really hit the ground running that next day though, I had took the camera out with me set up in a spot where I could not only see a lot, but I was gonna be able to hear a lot as well. And that I thought would be the more important piece of the puzzle that I could sit there.

See a lot, hear a lot but mostly that hearing piece was gonna be really big. When you know it, daylight rolls around. Turkeys start gobbling all over the place. There's turkeys in the distance. There's turkeys close to me. And man, it's just absolutely insane. Like I'm just covered up in Gobblers. And then I'm sitting there watching this field, watching a HN that had just popped up.

And two Toms materialize up from out of the marsh and step out in the field. One starts [00:14:00] strutting, one starts acting real nervous around the other Tom, and that other Tom that was strutting chases him around a little bit. So they were. I guess the one was not a big fan of the subordinate bird being there, but he hung around long enough anyway, so I got to watch them for a solid, I don't know, 15, 20 minutes.

And I'm sitting there. I'm not dressed all in camo though because I don't think that I need to be right. Like I'm just here to listen. I'm here to watch and then I'm gonna bail out. I look to my right and about a hundred yards from me is a. Huge. Tom standing there strutting, he is eye level with me instead of down in the bottom where I expected.

I have no idea where he came from. He would've had to cover three to 400 yards across this field unless he was roosted in a tree that basically was, 50 yards from me. And if he was there. I never heard him gobble. I never heard him fly down. Anyway, I got so caught up watching those other two Toms.

I don't know where this other one came from, but that one starts working my way. [00:15:00] And then the two Toms that are down in the bottom start working my direction and when they break, 200 yards and I've got this other time at 75 yards and I realize very quickly. I'm not wearing camo and I've got to get the heck out of here.

Like I don't want to booger these birds and mess them up potentially for the next day. So I just break all of my camera stuff down and hit the ground, hit the dirt and belly crawl to get out and away, use the terrain in the field to my advantage. And I eventually got out of there without busting anything.

Without messing anything up too bad, I think. And then from there I hit the road again doing a lot of road scouting. I, with the number of birds that I was seeing from the car, I didn't feel like I really needed to get out and do a lot of scouting. I didn't wanna walk into these areas because I was able to scout from a distance.

I didn't need to know exactly where the birds had been scratching in the middle of the day. Because I had a pretty good idea of of what was going on. So I did a bit more driving around that [00:16:00] day, and I found this really big group of birds that is typically close to this piece of public. In fact, I mentioned them last year.

There was a big flock of birds. There's, they were still in a very large flock at the end of the season. Last year was several times in it. I tried to make a big play, big mile and a half or so, loop. Around them onto some on the public ground. Maybe it's a mile and a quarter. I don't know what it is, but it's a long way to make this big loop back in there behind these birds.

And they were in a flock of turkeys, maybe not them, was in this farm field again. So I had an even better plan of how I could loop around on those turkeys. At this point I am, I'm having a hard time thinking that this season is gonna take me very long to fill my tag because there are literally just turkeys everywhere.

I go out that evening, however, I go back to the spot where I'd been that morning where I had seen three times in the same field, and I'm like, okay I need to get a beat on these guys for tomorrow morning, figure out exactly where they're going to be, because [00:17:00] I have high confidence, especially with how aggressive the one Tom was.

That if I could get in there and start doing some calling, and he didn't have a lot of hens with him. He just had the one hen that he came out strutting around, but he was very aggressive towards the other times. So I thought if I can get in there early and if I can get set up, I have pretty good confidence that I can get at least one of those times to break and come my way if they were in the same spot.

I sit there that evening and I see another Tom and he's acting super weird. He comes out into the field. And literally sprints from one side of the field to the far end. And he's just running full bore. And I'm talking, I watched him run for probably, I don't know, close to 500 yards before he turned up into the woods.

But he turned up into the woods exactly where he had been, or atom. The Toms had been roosted the evening before, so I think, okay, great. He's going in there, he's gonna fly up, he's gonna start gobbling and it's gonna be money. I then see another tom down towards where I saw one strutting to [00:18:00] my right a hundred yards earlier that morning, and he's standing there strutting again, and I'm like, okay, he's gonna fly up and roo somewhere.

This will be great. I'll get to get an idea of where he's at. He turns and heads straight to the east and I'm thinking, now why is he doing well, actually, I'm sorry, straight to the west. And I'm wondering why in the world would he be doing that? Why? Why would he be heading west? That's. Nowhere near where I thought he would've come from that morning.

And like I said earlier, if he had covered that ground that morning when I saw him, it must have been, I don't know, three or 400 yards that I just didn't see him crossing the field. But he hits straight that way. And then a large flock of hens about eight or 10 hens all ahead his direction as well. And I'm thinking, okay, they're gonna go over there this other time's, gonna go back where he was roosted this morning.

This is gonna be really good. It's gonna work out in my favor. I can get between him. Then that first time that I saw comes running back up out of the timber, out of this kind of marshy area with some taller trees in the back. Just comes sprinting back out into the field, stops, looks [00:19:00] around, turns the opposite direction that he had been running earlier and runs all the way down the field edge again, another 500 yards back to where he had been earlier.

Super, super weird behavior. I have no idea what's got this bird acting this way. But he goes down and goes back up into the timber where I saw all the other birds a mo that I mentioned a moment ago, all flying up. And I'm like, okay, maybe they're all gonna fly up together. We'll see.

The sun goes down and I don't hear a gobble, and I don't hear a gobble, and I don't hear a gobble. So finally I'm like, I'm gonna hoot to see if I can get something out of him. Nothing. I'm like maybe I'll try the little screechy thing. Like the THP guys do nothing. Maybe I'll coyote howl at 'em, nothing.

And so I went from, hearing literally hundreds of gobbles that morning, probably two to 300 gobbles that morning to hearing not a single gobble in the afternoon. And that. That to me has been a normal experience in the South where birds just don't seem to gobble as well in the [00:20:00] evening. It is very rare that I would go out in the evenings in Wisconsin and not at least be able to roost birds like not at least be able to figure out, okay there's some goblin over here.

They may not be close, they may not be on public that I have ACC or ground that I have access to, but I can find birds, but not a thing hardly gobbled that morning or that evening. So I'm thinking to myself, okay. This is gonna be tough for tomorrow morning. I think I know where to start, but I really don't know.

So I get back to the car and I'm talking with my buddy Pierce and I can't remember exactly when this happened. This may have actually been a little bit earlier in the day, but I can't remember. Pierce is having car trouble though, and he's got a guided trip coming up where he's gonna be hosting a couple of different folks on a fishing trip.

Kind of a little bit of a bigger. Bigger guiding experience, I guess you could say. And so rather than, try to push it or anything like that, I was just like, look, Pierce you're not running on a lot of sleep. These birds didn't gobble at all this evening. Your car is still messed up.

Good. Just take the day and figure out what you need [00:21:00] to figure out, get that fixed and then maybe we can try to hunt together. The following day, and I'd also been talking with Matt Str for Weather Oak's game. Calls about hunting with me on Friday, which if you haven't used Weather Oak's game calls or haven't checked him out yet, you really should.

He makes excellent double-sided slate calls. I don't know what the top is, but there's a slate on the bottom. And man, just really love him. I used a prototype, I guess it was last year before, I don't know, maybe last year. I got to use one of the prototype calls and I love it. The thing's still in my vest.

I've got. I've got Turkey calls from a bunch of different manufacturers and that is the that's the pot call that goes in my vest. Anyway really dig it. So I had guys lined up to hunt with me on Thursday and on Friday, so I just thought, you know what, not a big deal on Wednesday, it's opening day.

I'll get out there and I'll try to figure out where these birds are at, maybe do a little bit more scouting. There was just some really weird behavior the night before wasn't too worried about Pierce not being able to make it. And then I knew, I, I had Matt hunt with him Friday, I was covered, right?

That's the Turkey hunting dream is having buddies to share the time with. So I was like, you [00:22:00] know what? First day I won't have anybody with me. Not a big deal. I'll find the birds. And figure out a little bit better of what their pattern is so that when I do have folks with me, we have a really good hunt given the limited time that we're gonna have together.

Just wanna take a quick minute to let you know that the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast is brought to you by TACT Camp makers of the best. Point of view cameras on the market. For hunters and anglers, they're on the cutting edge, making user-friendly cameras to help the everyday outdoorsmen share your hunt with friends and loved ones.

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And to make sure I don't miss any of the action. To learn more and check out their full line of products, head over to their website and share your hunt with Tcam. So get out there the next morning, and this is opening day, right? And there are cars in the parking lot already. Which, that's fine, not a big deal.

But so I get to the place where I want to park and park the car and rather than commit to the direction that I thought those turkeys were going to go that evening, because they never confirmed exactly where they were roosted, I set up and put my decoys out on this high spot in the field where, No matter where at in this field that turkeys came out, they could at least see my decoys.

But I was also going to be away from any of the hunting pressure because it comes in from a different direction. I like to get creative with where I park my car and with how I access. [00:24:00] I really don't like using parking lots. I like to go park in other places so that I don't end up having people, come in right on top of me or that kind of thing.

I was going to be able to monitor from where I was not only. These birds where they enter or exit the field. I was gonna be able to hear a lot if the turkeys gobbled anywhere around me, but I was actually going to be able to watch the access trail about, I don't know, 250 ish yards away, so I could see whether or not people were back in their hunting that morning.

So I get set up, the hide is good. In fact it's great. Like the cover is fantastic. I found this little pocket. With just some brush right up in front of me. It was almost like being in a ground blind made or being in a, like a hub style blind, except it was natural vegetation. It was just a perfect little hole for me to get in.

Really couldn't ask for much better. I get set up, I got my decoys out, I've got the cameras up, tact cams are, in the field on the decoys. This is gonna be great. Like I'm primed and ready [00:25:00] for whatever these turkeys throw at me. And daylight rolls around, no goblin seven o'clock rolls around, no goblin.

And I'm sitting there thinking to myself, what happened? This went from a hotspot yesterday with three Toms shredding in this field right after, fly down to here we are this next morning, and nothing. And actually did end up hearing one bird gobble out in front of me. Sounded like a Jake. And he moved from west to east and he only gobbled a couple of times.

And I'm thinking, okay. I have a pretty good idea. There are a couple of other guys in there, and I don't know why they're not shooting, I don't hear them calling to 'em or anything. Maybe they're just calling quiet. I don't know. But whatever the case is, the birds, were not acting right in on this particular morning, which there's not a lot of mourns in southern Wisconsin that I would say.

I went out and the birds didn't act right, like if the birds are on the property that I'm hunting they're acting right. And you probably know this, if you hunt farm ground, if the birds are on your property, you're gonna hear 'em gobbling.[00:26:00] But it was just a really quiet morning, really weird morning.

So I decided, you know what? I'm gonna pack up and head out. And as I begin to pack up, I look and I see two guys walking up out of the marsh from where I heard that Turkey gobbling earlier that morning, which made me think, okay, they probably went in there to where these birds had been roosting.

They probably got too close to where the birds had been roosting, and that's probably why I only heard the one gobble or the one bird gobbling and probably why it, he just gobbled as he moved from west to east. He didn't really gobble on the limb. He gobbled once he flew down and I could track his movements as he gobbled two or three times along that field edge.

So I hit the car again though because. I don't know, man. I just love watching strutting turkeys. So I hit the car again and we start, we I start driving around and trying to formulate a plan for the afternoon and there's some bad weather rolling in, like thunderstorms and that kind of thing. And I'm thinking, I've got several more days to hunt and I don't mind hunting [00:27:00] in the rain if I don't have or if I need to.

I've got the hunt worth gear and their rain. Suit is just phenomenal. It's the best rain suit I've ever used, so it'll keep me dry, but it was also windy. And man, just the combination of windy and rainy. When I'm Turkey hunting, I just don't enjoy it. When it comes to white tails, yeah, throw me in a stand in the rain.

Throw me in a ground blind in the rain, throw me in a saddle in the rain. Not a big deal, but if I can't hear birds gobbling, or, if it's just pouring down rain, it's not a lot of fun. Side to side. You know what? I'm going to do a little bit of driving around, a little bit more scouting. And I'd also met a listener of the show named John.

And John had kind of text me and said, Hey, man, this, and, or he had messaged me back in, gosh, I guess maybe January, February, maybe even March, I don't remember. But he had messaged me and said, Hey man I'm pretty sure I know where you killed your buck this year. And he was exactly [00:28:00] right. He knew exactly where I killed my buck this year.

And so we got to talking and made plans, Hey, Turkey season, if it's going on, then if you're up here for Turkey season, Josh, why don't you, why don't we try to hook up? And I did a little bit of scouting that morning. Then John and I had been texting back and forth, and so I was like, Hey man, do you mind if I swing by your shop?

I'll just swing by and see what you're up to. And so we talked that morning. For a little while. And first, this is the first time that we ever met in public. And it's one of the things that I love about the audience of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast. One of the things I love about you guys when you reach out, cause it's like I've had a lot of folks who are listeners of this show who turn into friends super, super quickly.

So I talk with John that morning, first time we ever met in person. First of all, I, first thing I realized is that John is a giant human being. He's six foot five, extremely tall, but we're already working out plans to how we can hunt together that afternoon. Like immediately, he's Hey, I got a camera.

And I'm like, sweet dude. Bring it and let's go. And anyway, and we had seen the same [00:29:00] birds. We hunt the same area. So we were both familiar with what the birds were doing. And we made a plan to make a play on the birds that we had observed on private. But we have to make the big loop around them to get to them on public.

So that was gonna be the play for the afternoon. He had some work to do. I had some work to do. It was also bad weather, so we were like, Hey, we'll go back out this afternoon and we'll try to make the big loop. And if nothing else, if we can't call him back to us on the public, then at least we will have an opportunity when they head back to roost for the evening.

So that's what we do. And I'm driving on the way to, to go meet back up with John again for the afternoon, and there's just one more line of thunderstorms that's gonna blow through and then potentially some rain for the rest of the afternoon. But you know what, it's the afternoon of day one.

I've got a tag in my pocket, so I gotta go. But man, we hit a hailstorm. I hit a hailstorm on my way there and it was bad. I'm talking like quarter sized hail. Smashing into my car [00:30:00] as I'm trying to drive down there. And I'm just thinking to myself like, this cannot be good for the Turkey hunting. I cannot imagine that, that this is gonna go well.

Like birds. I don't know what turkeys do during hailstorms, but I, it doesn't seem like they should be acting right. So the hail finally stops about five minutes before I get to John, I pull up. And he's already got his gear on. We're ready to go. We're ready to rock. I hop outta the car, get my stuff on super fast, feel that panic mode that you feel whenever you're hunting with a buddy and he's ready to go and you're trying to play catch up.

So I had that going on, just trying to hurry up, get all my stuff on, work out a little bit of our plan. The birds that we had seen earlier in that big field, were still out in that field, and so we had pretty good confidence that we could work our way all, all the way around them. To get back in there on them.

And you might be wondering why I threw into the story a minute ago that John's six foot five. Let me tell you a little bit of something. I'm five foot seven, so I'm really [00:31:00] short. I'm five foot seven. I've got all my gear, I've got decoys that I'm carrying. I've got kneehigh rubber boots on because we're heading back through this marsh.

I know we're gonna have to cross at least one creek. And when I crossed this creek last year, it actually went over my knee high boots. And so I had a pretty good idea that this was gonna be a wet and wild kind of walk for us. So I have all kinds of stuff, even have my rain gear and my backpack, like I'm weighted down pretty good.

When you're five foot seven and you try to follow a guy who's six five and you're both in a hurry and you're walking up a, not a steep hill, a decent little incline. Man it'll wear you out really quick. So I very quickly am just like, John, dude I can't keep up with you, man. Like I'm not gonna be able to keep the same pace as you.

He was kind, he slowed down for me just a little bit. But we got over the hill. We got down into the marsh, and we're getting ready to begin making our our trek through the marsh. We'd glassed where we thought the birds could be. They weren't visible to us, but that's okay. [00:32:00] And John actually made the decision that he was gonna call before we, we got too far down into the marsh.

Now I have tunnel vision at this point, right? Like I'm going after those birds. I'm making this big loop, like I'm making a move, a big move, and I'm not gonna mess around with calling John though. We get down in there, he calls and when you know it, a bird fires off like a hundred yards away from us. And it was those, one of those panic moments because I didn't think that was gonna happen.

I thought. Maybe we were, I don't know, close enough to those other birds. They would hear us in gobble or something. I don't know. But I did not expect a bird to gobble at like a hundred yards. So I'm like, oh crap, what do we do? And we look around for a minute and we realize we're not in a great spot.

It's of a little bit of a cove in this marsh brush stuff. But it's not a terrible spot either. In fact, we can get a really good hide. The question is just will we be able to call birds up into this kind of tighter area in this marsh? And [00:33:00] so we get, get ready to set up and John calls again and that bird answers back.

And then another bird fires off further away. Probably sounded like it was probably, 250, 300 yards or something like that. And I'm like, okay, this is getting real. We hurry up and set up the decoys. We get all set up. And I'm sitting there waiting and every time he calls this first Tom responds and so will the other Tom.

Then I realized after he called again, the first bird response and then two Toms gobble off to our, what is our left at this point, I believe that would be to the west of us. So I'm like, okay, there are several birds that are interested and they all sound like they're coming, like they're all getting closer.

And then finally I hear some walking in the brush and I look up and I see a red head coming through the marsh grass, just catching, glimpses of him through this dogwood another brush, he peaks his head [00:34:00] over to where he can see down into the cove, and he sees the decoys and he doesn't spook, but he doesn't hang around either.

Now, if I'd wanted to force the issue, I probably could have taken a shot at that Turkey. But we had other Toms coming too, and I didn't wanna risk it. I didn't want a gun to go off and obviously mess up the hunt. But I also didn't wanna risk a shot that I wasn't 100% positive, was going to be immediately lethal.

I had a good look at his head, when you get into some of that thicker stuff that's a little more brushy. It can just, it can play havoc on your pattern and it can be deceiving. And I know a lot of guys say I shoot TSS so I can just blast right through it. And that's fine.

I'm not shooting tss. I'm shooting long Beard xrs. In fact, I'm shooting XRS number in number six. I've never shot size six before for turkeys until this year. I'm usually shooting number four. And something about shooting number six is just, I don't know. I had a little bit less, less confidence in their in their knockdown power.

But [00:35:00] anyway, that's beside the point that Turkey turns and heads back the other direction, but not straight away from us. It looks like what he might be doing is looping around from the other side, and we don't know, we called again. He never really gobbled much back at us. I can't remember if he gobbled.

Maybe one time as he was leaving, but but when we did call these other times fired up, and we can tell it's multiples now and we can tell it's at least two. So we get settled in and man, they're just, they're coming. They are, they're coming pretty quick too. And then I see movement off to my left, which is west.

And I'm like, okay, John, I can see him. And he's okay. I was like, tell me, tell me when you've got him in the frame so that we can take the shot. And I'm just trying to calm myself down at this point cuz this just went from an absolute free for all. It's oh no, where do we set up?

Because this ha is happening so quickly to boom, the turkeys are right there. So I'm just trying to slow everything down in, in my mind as they come in, I have the. I [00:36:00] guess the, my wits about me enough to get the tact cams on, get my barrel pointed directly at them and move with it. Cuz when you have a tact cam on the end of your gun, your gun essentially is your camera.

So if you want to get good footage, that gun needs to be aiming at the critters. And so I'm watching them down the gun barrel and I'm getting excited. They work their way up into this cove. They pause for just a second and then they come on. Just. No fear coming in at the, at this decoy, they walk right past the hen coy hin.

Decoy, sorry. The hen Coy. Yeah. They walk right past the hen decoy and all the way over to the Jake Decoy, and I'm thinking, all right, this is it. And I can feel that tension. You ever, do you ever have that moment when you're about to shoot that you just feel that flinch in your arm where it's like you almost just yanked the heck out of the trigger.

I had that happen and I almost just let it eat as soon as those turkeys got over there. But a couple of things stopped me. [00:37:00] Number one I've got a goal for Turkey hunting and it's gonna be more so next year. I wanna let it wait for just a minute, especially when I'm filming. If I'm, if I've got decoys set up, I'm not taking shot opportunity number one, like I've been in the past, as soon as that Turkey gives me a clean shot.

I'm taking the shot no matter if he's honed in on the decoys or not. I wanna give it a little bit more time here in the future if I'm hunting over decoys because I want to get a little bit more of that interaction. One of the things I love about early season turkeys is how they respond to decoys and how they come in and posture and strut and gobble and.

And do all the things. And I wanna be able to share more of that experience, more of that, relive more of that. And I paused. And then also these three birds were all lumped up together, which, if you heard the episode that I did at the end of last Turkey season, you know that I filled my last Turkey tag of 2022 by accidentally shooting two birds.

At the same time, because they were, they had lined back up and I [00:38:00] wasn't aware of it. At the last second, one of 'em stuck his head back behind the other, and I ended up having to report myself to a game warden. I actually had that game warden come on the show and talk about that just a little bit, but I didn't wanna make that mistake again.

So I slowed it back down, waited for the birds to spread out a little bit, watched them circle the decoy a little. And then one of 'em, looking back at the footage, he, he didn't get nervous. I think he was just trying to figure out what he was going to do with this decoy, but he acted weird enough that I decided now is the time.

John had already said, Hey, whenever you're ready, take the shot. And there, I'll be honest with you, there was no squeezing the shot off with this one. I still yanked that trigger like I, or slapped it, at least, as soon as it was time to take the shot. But folded them up right there.

By the decoys and we sat there for a minute, which was awesome cuz we got to get footage of the other turkeys coming in and kicking on 'em and flogging him for a little bit. Just a really cool experience, really cool hunt. I ended up trying to do some calling there right after those [00:39:00] turkeys were flogging 'em cause I was hoping we could get footage of them gobbling and have the dead Turkey in the frame and all of that.

But that didn't happen. But they did circle around and. Yeah, man. Just a picturesque hunt a beautiful fast. One of those hunts that leaves you scratch in your head man, that one felt almost like cheating. That one felt too easy. It we'd, I, it wasn't an early morning hunt.

It wasn't off the roost. We didn't have to sneak, we didn't have to do a lot, but get to a spot and call and those birds just came in. We didn't have to make them, another three quarters of a mile walk that we were going to have to make to get looped around on those other birds. And man, so it turns out in this one little area, there were five Toms in one field that we were trying to circle around on, not to mention the Jakes and stuff that were in there with them.

And then we called in four times at this spot. So all total in this one little area, there were nine different times. And not only were there [00:40:00] nine times in this little area, but in the spots that I drove past on the way there, I was still seeing turkeys and fields. I was wondering how they would respond to this hailstorm and they responded to the hailstorm a lot.

Like they respond typically with rain, as soon as the rain passes, they're all out in the fields and that's what they had done. So I saw turkeys. All the way there. I'm driving past turkeys that I could hunt to go meet up with John. Thinking to myself, why in the world am I passing up to these turkeys?

Maybe I shouldn't. But yeah, we got there and there, just tons of birds everywhere. I can't imagine that folks in zone two are are not, Experiencing some good hunting. But, it was a bittersweet day. I got to experience this with a new hunting buddy. He captured everything on camera, which the fu the footage is beautiful.

He took some awesome pictures. I never have people there to take pictures of me after the hunt. I've always gotta Makeshift a tripod or something to get pictures taken. But he took excellent photos to help me capture the hunt, [00:41:00] but that also meant that my tag was filled in Wisconsin.

I was not going to get to hunt with Pierce. I was probably not going to get to hunt with Matt from Weathered Oaks. And so I'm thinking, man, this is, this is a sad day. It's a sad day. I don't live in Wisconsin anymore and I've got buddies that I want to try to meet up with and take time to, to hunt with.

And but it had just been just the way it all happened. I wasn't gonna be able to do that anymore. But during all of this though, my wife had been home with some sick kids and I don't know if I mentioned it before, it, they had all had a stomach bug. Funny enough. During that week when I was in Iowa and and in Wisconsin, and it was just wrecking things here at home.

And if you've ever done an out-of-state trip, you know that if you're out of state and your wife and kids are having a tough time, like no matter what it is, it, it could be the kids are acting up. It could be issues at school, it could be your wife's having issues at work, which mine was not. Mine was having a great time at work.

It was just trying to balance all the things, getting kids to and from school.[00:42:00] But also having sick kids. So trying to work from home with kids that are throwing up and just not able to meet some of the the expectations that she was hoping to get met. She had asked me to consider, Hey and this I felt was just a huge thing for us.

She said, Hey, would you consider coming home early? And man, that, that made me feel so appreciated and supported. As a husband, and I don't know what I did to deserve my wife, but man she threw that out there of, Hey, would you consider coming home a little bit early if you can tag out in Wisconsin?

And you know what? I was like, absolutely. Not a question. You've had a tough time. I've been having great hunting here. If I can tag out early, I will go ahead and come home. And there's several guys that I didn't get to connect with. Pierce being one of 'em, Matt being one of them. Another buddy of mine, Jared, that I didn't get to meet up with while I was there.

Cuz I went ahead and actually I cleaned that bird that afternoon. So we left the truck at two o'clock, left the car at two o'clock and by three o'clock we had a Turkey [00:43:00] on the ground. So I took the bird back. I cleaned them up that afternoon before the sun went down That evening, I took my time to organize and pack everything, put everything away because if you've been on a one week hunting trip outta state, things can just get outta hand really quickly.

Packed up the next morning and headed south. And Yeah, had a fantastic hunt. Huge thanks to John. Huge shout out to him for catching this on film. John's a great dude, man. He's been bit by the bug of filming hunts and stuff, and, he is been wanting to do that. And this was, I don't think this is the first time he's filmed somebody shoot something, but I know he is a little bit newer to it and loves it.

And he has a real knack for it too. I'll post the video eventually and you'll see it's just, Awesome footage. He's got a great camera too. Anyway, huge shout out, John. Thanks for thanks for filming for us. And then, Pierce and Matt, guys, sorry I suck. I really wish we could have hung out and had some time together, but that's all right.

We've got time for that stuff. I think we're gonna make a summer trip up to Wisconsin to see some family, [00:44:00] friends and, enjoy all that Wisconsin has for the summertime because, Ma'am, Wisconsin Summers beat the heck outta Georgia Summers. I can tell you that right now. It is 85 ish here today in Georgia, and it went from, highs in the low, upper sixties the other day to 85 right now.

And I'm just, I'm not digging it. I'm not digging it. Anyway, but that's the story of my hunt there in Wisconsin. I did get to get out the very next morning I had. About two hours that I could devote to hunting, and I went with a buddy of mine named Alex, who had been hunting in the same public and he had never shot a Turkey before.

I was hoping I could get him in there to get him one. We show up to the public parking spot. There are cars there. We go to a private farm that's right down the road. Somebody's flashing at us with their red light there. I'm like, geez, where are these people even parked I don't even know. We turn around, we go to another farm that I've got, and the birds are gobbling.

As soon as we get there, they come in, they're probably 40, 45 yards from the decoys just looking at it [00:45:00] and turn and work their way off. They're not super excited about the decoys, unfortunately. So we didn't get one that morning, but I did have one more morning in the field, which was absolutely awesome.

Then yeah, headed on back to the camper, picked everything up and I went by. Just a little side note here. This isn't anything to do with the Turkey. This is more to do with my buck from this past fall. I ran over to Josh Berger's rut, Strutton Stream, taxidermy, and picked up my buck from this fall and he looks awesome.

You can go look at on, on Instagram. I've got a picture of him. They did a great job, not only on the mount but with preserving the wound, if you remember that story. So I shot this buck on November 3rd. No. Maybe it was November 2nd. I shot it on November 2nd or third, the first time. I think it was November 2nd the first time.

And then, and it was a lethal hit. So then I shot the bird again. Shot the bird. I shot this buck on November 2nd or third, and then I shot this buck [00:46:00] again on November 8th and made good on it. They were able to preserve the wound or preserve the scar from the first. Shot and it looks fantastic.

The deer looks exactly like he did the day that I shot him with a little bit of an open wound up high on his back. Man really thrilled with how that turned out. And yeah, if you're looking for a good taxidermist in southern Wisconsin, maybe you're in northern Illinois, somewhere around there.

Mers Berger's rut, Strutton Stream taxidermy. I highly recommend him. He's done some turkeys for me. He's done this deer. And he does, he just does great work. Yeah, go check him out. You can also connect with him on on Instagram. I think it's at Mers, Josh or something like that, but he's also got a Facebook page.

I'm not really big on Facebook. In fact, just reactivated my account not too long ago. He's also on Facebook, though, you can find him there. But anyway guys, that's a wrap for my Turkey season. I'm still chasing him down here in Georgia. Actually got out yesterday and it's hot, it's humid leaf.

Green up is in full [00:47:00] effect. It looks like it might as well be July. Here. You can't see through the woods 50 yards. Hunting is getting tough. I may not get out again for the rest of the year. My Turkey season may be over. Until next year. But we've got some cool things in the works.

In fact, right now I'm talking with my wife about potentially doing a an Osceola hunt beginning in March, which she is all on board for because that means we as a family would be in Florida. And then I've got a buddy I'm talking to about chasing Rios in Texas. And you know what, if I'm already getting an Osceola hunt in March and then she's giving me the green light for a Rio in Texas you might as well add a Miriam's on top of that while you're out west anyway.

And then if you've already shot an Osceola and a Rio and a Miriam's, you might as well shoot for that single season slam. So that is hitting the works for next year. I never thought in my life that I would be in a position where I could begin to say, Hey, I want to pursue a single season slam.

But because of our awesome partners tact, cam Hunt [00:48:00] Worth and OnX Hunt because of our awesome listener base like you guys who are interactive and you reach out and you support me, and you listen to my shows every week. Man, because of the awesome people that I've surrounded myself with, I am now in this kind of position.

So if you've got any tips or tactics about chasing down a Miriam's, that is the one wild card right now. I know where I'll go for the Osceola. I know where I'll go for the Rio. I don't know where I'll go for the Miriam's Turkey, but already in the works for next next Turkey season. And yeah, I'm turning my focus now.

Pretty hard to, to fishing. I think I'm gonna fish more this spring and summer than I have in years past. Down here in the south it's it's hot man. And anything I can do to get myself around a bo a body of water would be fantastic. Looking to fish a little bit more, but already making plans for deer season as well.

I cannot wait to get back up to Wisconsin and start chasing some bucks. And anyway guys, thanks so much for listening to me ramble and for this to this story. [00:49:00] If you have any questions or feedback or anything like that, feel free to let me know. Thanks for listening to this week's show. We'll catch you next time.

That's all for this week's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcast. While you're at it, if you could lead me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin Sportsman or at How to Hunt.

Dear. That's also the best way to get ahold of me. Suggest topics, guests, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show. Big thanks to our partners tact Cam. Hunt worth and OnX, please go support the brands that support this show. And if you're looking for more great outdoor content, check out the sportsmans where you'll find my other podcast, the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.

And until next time, make sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours as Wisconsin Sportsman.[00:50:00]