By Glen Wunderlich
Lansing, Michigan – -(Ammoland.com)- Recalling the early days of turkey hunting in Michigan, it all seemed so mysterious. The birds were scarce and the percentage of successful hunters was measured in the single digits.
To complicate matters, just when the wily birds were starting to establish themselves in a particular area, they were trapped and transplanted somewhere else.
There was no such thing as dedicated turkey guns or turkey-specific shotshells. Outdoor television shows were limited to weekly broadcasts of Michigan Outdoors on public broadcasting networks. My learning was relegated to listening to cassette tapes.
Myriad outdoor shows on numerous cable networks have changed the way we learn about wildlife and their habits, and routinely demonstrate the means to be a successful hunter for just about any wild game.
Somewhere along the way, portable blinds became popular and I consider them to be the most significant advancement in turkey hunting tactics and paraphernalia. Anyone who’s ever hunted the majestic feathered bird knows how important it is to avoid detection and modern pop-up blinds make it easy. For whatever reason, turkeys pay no attention to them – even if they are placed conspicuously, if used in conjunction with a decoy or two.
To locate birds, I had done my scouting in the early morning hours before sunrise simply listening for gobblers to pronounce their presence while roosting in the treetops. Close to home a generous landowner gave me permission to hunt his land and I promptly set up a Browning Powerhouse Hub Blind in the middle of a field under one lone tree the day before.
The roomy blind is large enough to accommodate two people, so I invited my hunting partner, Joe, to team up for a chance at a gobbler. Joe’s only days off work are Tuesdays, so it only seemed right that he be given the opportunity as gunner on this Tuesday; I left my shotgun at home and opted to do the calling and to run a video camera.
The gobblers were quiet until 6am, when they began gobbling from the roost, before flying down for the day. It was still too dark to see them but we knew their position hundreds of yards away.
One brightly colored tom emerged from the woods but it would take a bit of coaxing to get him to head in our direction. I scratched out a few hen calls on my slate call and that’s all it took for the lustful gobbler to begin its final journey.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is to call sparingly – and, not at all, once the bird is on a mission. Therefore, even though the bellowing bird was well over 100 yards away, it was closing the distance without any additional prompting from me.
Across the field it strutted and when it spotted our single hen decoy, which was placed 30 yards in front of our blind, it was just a matter of time before it was in range. Joe readied his Mossberg Shotgun loaded with Winchester’s Long Beard XR in copper-plated 5 shot and at precisely 6:50 am, his season was over.
The 2 year-old male sported a 10 1/8-inch beard and weighed a substantial 20 pounds, 8 ½ ounces and fell at a distance of 42 yards.
Obviously, turkey hunting doesn’t always work out this way, but exploiting the turkey’s vulnerabilities can put the odds in anyone’s favor.
About Glen Wunderlich Charter 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).