Turkey Season: A 2017 Recap and Some Tips to Make THIS Season Even Better!
The spring 2017 season started off with a bang… OK, that’s corny. The first shot of the spring season for me, was a 30-pound tom in Virginia at my buddy’s farm. I also happened to call in another one, which was my buddy’s first tom ever. That was a great day.
I then went back to God’s country, Wisconsin, for turkey hunting.
I used my turkey call to lure in turkeys for a young boy’s youth season in Wisconsin. However, the weather was terrible and windy. It was a long, cold day in the turkey tent. We didn’t spot any turkeys the entire day.
My first tag was close to Fond du Lac, WI. I went to a farm I have been hunting at for years. I have always tried to work on my relationships with land owners during my many years of hunting. I do not need to do any scouting on most of the farms I hunt on. I have come to know the layout of the land very well from hunting on them for years.
On this hunt, I set up my tent on a Tuesday afternoon. On opening day, birds are gobbling all over. After just one call and one shot, my first Wisconsin tom was down.
My next outing was with my son–in–law at one of my favorite farms. After not hearing a gobble in the trees, I realized that it was going to be a long day. Late in the morning, we heard a faint gobble, but it was a long way off. I used my call and the bird answered. You must be careful not to call too often or he may get weary. A while later, three gobbles echoed through the trees. We figured he must have lost where we were, so I let out another call to direct him. After he came back with a gobble I soft called, because it sounded like he was close. Moments later, he started running directly toward the decoy. Boom! My son-in-law’s bird went down.
Later last season, after doing some driving around, I spotted seven toms in a field. There was a man by the house at the edge of the field and I pulled in to ask him if I could hunt on his field some time. He said “no” and that he just bought the place. However, he continued by telling me he wanted to start turkey hunting. I asked him if he had ever turkey hunted before and he said he never had. I offered to come and use my calls for him if he was interested. He said he wasn’t interested in anyone else hunting on his land. I told him that I wasn’t asking to hunt, but that I was offering to help him. After he asked me why I would be interested in helping him, I told him that I love to get new people involved in turkey hunting. I let him know that if my son-in-law got his bird on Saturday, (which he did) I would call for him on Sunday. Before I left, I told him where to put his tent and how to pattern test his gun.
After my son-in-law got his bird on Saturday, I called the man that night and told him I would be there first thing on Sunday morning. Once I got to his tent, I sat in a small chair in the corner. I told him that birds will be coming from the top ridge. I also advised him to not shoot until they were near. The man was shooting with a long barrel gun. Sometime later, sure enough, two toms showed up at the top of the ridge. I made one call and they came running immediately. I reminded the man not to shoot until they get to the ridge. I had to lean back in order for him to be able to shoot. After he raised his gun, I noticed it was wandering a lot. “Bang! Bang!” I leaned forward to see two toms flying away. Then one of them dropped into a field and got back up only to fly away again.
My first question to him was: “Did you pattern test your gun?”
With his head down, he told me that he did not. I asked him to direct me to where he thought the birds were standing when he shot them. After walking a ways he tells me to stop, and there I spotted a pin head of blood. We went back out to where the bird rolled in field. We found more blood and a few feathers as well. Next, we went up to the ridge. After we walked up and down the plowed field, we found a blood trail. NEVER in my almost 50 years of turkey hunting had I blood trailed a turkey before. After going about 100 yards, I saw the tom with his head up on the fence nearby. I snuck up behind him and stepped on his head. I cleaned the bird for the man because I wanted to see where he had hit the bird. One pellet was in the top of the breast and had broken the breast vein.
After helping this man get his first turkey, I knew I created another turkey hunter. When you help get someone their first bird, you own him for the rest of his turkey hunting career. You only get your first bird once.
I also had a tag for area two, so I went to another farm I have permission to hunt on. I set up on the edge of the woods with only one hen decoy set out. A flock of hens came down with a tom behind them. No calling was needed. The tom followed them right up to my decoy. That was the last trip that tom made.
My next tags were in area three. I have a cottage just south of Wautoma that I use as my home base. There is a farm I have hunted at for years near Mount Morris. This farm is a favorite of mine – I got two of my three doubles at this farm. I set up the afternoon before because this place has two logging trails that cross where I hunt. If any movement is seen by the birds, they are gone. At first light, I heard a couple gobbles. After my first call, the tom started to move closer and down the trail. After lining up my sight, the bird is down. I grabbed the bird and headed back to my tent. Two hours later, I heard another gobble so I made a call. The tom gobbled back. About ten minutes later he was right in front of my tent. There I had it, my second tom of the day.
My son also had an area 3 tag so he met me at the cottage. We went to another farm I have permission to hunt on that my son had gotten a bird at a couple of times before. We didn’t hear much gobbling and never saw a bird. He could only hunt that one morning. He had to get back to my three grandkids.
I went back to area two for another hunt. I went to the farm where my son-in-law got his bird. No morning gobbling yet again. At about 10 a.m., a tom came into the field and saw my hen and tom decoys. The tom came running and that was the last time that tom ran.
Spring was now over, and the fall season would soon be here. I will save that season for another time….
In all my years of hunting turkeys…
I have been blessed to see my son, son-in-laws, young kids, friends, wounded warriors, ladies and some people I barely know shoot turkeys. I have been able to hunt most North American game except for sheep. Turkey hunting will be the last thing this old guy will give up.
When I was asked to do this article, I was told to add some tips on the how to hunt turkeys. As I say in my seminars, turkey hunting is a still sport. Find your areas, scout your areas, but most importantly, spend time in your areas.
My gun of preference is a 3 1/2 inch 12 gauge with a turkey choke and a thumbhole stock. As I have gotten older, I find using a shooting stick is more practical.
Turkey calls have been the subject of many articles. First off, start with simple calls. The push button calls attract many toms. When you get more experienced, it is okay to work your way up. Try a box call, slate call, mouth call or a wing bone call next. It may take time, but you will know when you are comfortable enough to move up. The biggest problem with calling is knowing how much or how little to call. When a bird is responding to your call, put the call down. I have a couple hundred calls in my basement and I carry about 25 calls in my turkey vest. However, I normally only use my four favorite calls. I never use the same call two times in a row when blind calling, and I call about every 10 minutes.
Decoys could take up an entire article all by themselves. I now make and use decoys made out of the skins of birds I have harvested. Simply, I make a poor man’s mounted bird. I pick up old decoys with good turkey heads, and mount my turkey skins to them. If you are going to buy turkey decoys, do not go cheap. The ones that sell for $20-$50 are not worth it. The foam decoys that spin in the wind are something I will not hunt with. Have you ever seen a turkey spin in place?
If you go to the Milwaukee Sports Show this year, I will be doing a couple of seminars as well as the Ask an Expert Segment (this is new at the show this year). Please come and see me. I will be in my good buddy Dan Small’s (Mr. Outdoor Wisconsin) booth for most of the show.
Written by Loren Voss | Originally published by Badger Sportsman, March/April 2018 issue
Photo credit: Dusty Reid
Loren Voss, aka the Wisconsin Turkey Commander, of Fond du lac, WI, has over 40 years of turkey hunting experience in many states. He has an impressive hunting career including personally harvesting over 100 turkeys, television show appearances, speaking endeavors at various seminars and mentoring new hunters. He is also an experienced wing bone call maker.