Michigan Longbeard Ambushed

By Glen Wunderlich

Michigan Longbeard Ambushed
Michigan Longbeard Ambushed
Glen Wunderlich
Glen Wunderlich

Lansing, Michigan – -(Ammoland.com)- A check of the weather radar at 4 am convinced me that significant morning showers had passed and only some scattered patches of rain were off to the west.

It was good enough for another attempt to bag a spring gobbler, before Michigan’s late season would end.

Previous hunting sessions this spring had been interesting, but unproductive.  I had outfitted my inexpensive rubber hen decoy with some authentic turkey-feather wings for a bit more realism and, when the first hen of the season caught a glimpse of the “trespasser”, she quickened her pace for a showdown.  The furious hen danced a circular jig around the phony, made a few threatening gestures, and went on her way to breakfast.

The following day another hen only slowed down as she came by the decoy, as if to say, “Excuse me.  Just passing through.”  But, still no gobblers were seen or even heard, since gobbling from distant roosts at dawn.

I prefer to hunt from a blind and this year I was field testing a new Browning Powerhouse blind roomy enough for 2 people.  It’s a solid hub design tall enough to stand up inside and has plenty of shoot-through window screens.   It’s portable, and good thing, because it was time to relocate to a more promising area.  With the blind packed and slung over my shoulders, my friend, Joe, and I, headed to a new field to set up the day before our Sunday morning stand.

But, only 50 yards into the field, I noticed a turkey flying into the field about a quarter mile away.  So, we backed off trying to stay unnoticed, assuming there’d be birds roosting nearby.

The following morning we entered the field before sunrise without the blind, hoping to surprise a gobbler.  The plan worked to perfection with one exception:  again, only hens graced the landscape during our presence.  However, plenty of gobbling was in the air a mile to the west.  Another move was in order.

Longtime resident and neighbor, Dr. Howard Stowe, had granted me hunting permission on this property many years ago, and it was there that the Powerhouse blind would be deployed yet again.

I had chosen the side of the Looking Glass River opposite where I had seen a couple of gobblers the day before.  Severe rains had made some areas difficult to navigate, so I opted for some dry land just blindly hoping for the best.  On the way to set up the blind, a lone hen scampered into the seclusion of the adjoining hardwoods and  turkey dusting bowls on the ground nearby indicated I had found my spot.

At dawn, a hen strolled by my decoy and then a cackle broke the silence from behind.  In an instant, a gang of turkeys descended from the hardwoods directly in front of me.  Looking for a beard, I spotted a long beard on the last bird, which had landed some 25 feet from me.  But, it didn’t look right; I saw only the subdued coloration of a female.  With the aid of my Leupold Katmai binoculars, I confirmed my suspicion:  a bearded hen.  A legal bird to be sure, but a breeding hen, nonetheless, was allowed to continue out of sight with the others.

Hours passed without as much as one gobble.  Nothing.  I gutted out strong rain and wind (that didn’t appear on the radar) and thought that maybe the birds would show when the weather cleared.  One did.

And, this one had a red head protruding high above the weeds along the edge of the plowed field.  He was filling himself on dandelion tops and was poking along directly toward me.  Conveniently, he stepped closer than my maximum-distance marker of 50 yards and, although the tom heard the sound of my Browning Silver’s safety being disengaged, it didn’t matter.  The longbeard took his final steps at 47 yards from my hideout and a load of Winchester’s 3-inch Long Beard XR number 4 shot made sure I’d celebrate the season with some smoked drumsticks.

Funny how paying those dues can lead to success.

About Glen WunderlichCharter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org  Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Adjutant of Perry, Michigan Sons of Amvets Post 4064 and Chairman Perry (MI) Youth Hunt Extravaganza, a sanctioned event of Perry Sons of Amvets held the third weekend of September each year.

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Gene Clifford

I’m really glad to see this hunter use flags he’s placed at killing range as I do. This way a rangefinder is not needed.
My trump card when hunting is if you can see the birds eye it is within range to be killled.
I was taught this when hunting geese in southern Illinois 40 years ago.