Posts filed under Turkey Hunting

The Link Between Two Souls

I couldn't believe my eyes as I peered out my bedroom window at 4:30 AM on April 13th in Southeastern Wisconsin.  Snow. This fluffy white stuff that had dominated our landscape for the past six months was going to wreak havoc on our chances at a spring gobbler.  We had hunted similar conditions the week before during the youth hunt which forced the birds to lock up and remain safe in their fortress constructed of dogwood, buckthorn, elm and ash trees.  With a disgruntled groan, I heaved myself out of bed, threw on my camo and grabbed a cup of coffee before stepping out onto the back porch.  Crisp morning air hit my lungs and I felt as though I should be gearing up to chase mallards instead of spring gobblers.  Despite the unfavorable conditions, I made the trip to my parents place a few miles outside of town.

When I arrived I found my father already up and ready to go – we charged out into the cold darkness, not sure what the morning would bring.  Both of us knew the approximate location of the roosting birds, so I set the old man up in a fallen boxelder tree right on the edge of the field the toms had been strutting in.  I took my place at his 4 o'clock and got the camera setup just before the Kings of Spring started to sing their praises.

A few of the many turkeys roaming my parents property.

Sitting there, listening to the distant gobbles of thunder chickens struck a chord with my soul.  I looked over to my father sitting a mere 10 yards away and began to reflect on why during moments such as these, when neither of us talk, did I feel the closest to him.  My father was always a busy guy while I was growing up, but he never failed to make time to take me "turtle fishing", go for walks in the local streams or cast for bullheads near the dam downtown.  He instilled a curiosity and appreciation for the outdoors in me which affects every facet of my life these days. I could never thank him enough for all the sacrifices that he has made over the years to provide for our family yet still dedicate what little free time he had to create memories such as these with me.  Here, in the middle of a small 20 acre woodlot, I had no distractions such as cell phones, accomplishing the next item on a to-do list or work related worries.  I could simply sit and enjoy all of creations goodness in the company of my father.  Spending time together outdoors was the link that bound us together.

Hero shot!

All of a sudden, my concentration was broken by the loud cry of a Tom that had just spotted our decoys.  The bird had slowly been working his way up the treeline from 100 plus yards  north of us.  While I had the camera rolling, I only caught the last 15 seconds of the bird running in due to a brush pile that had obstructed my view.  His few last steps before pouncing on our Tom decoy were cut short by a 3 inch magnum turkey load screaming out of the barrel of my dad's Benelli.  There before us lay the largest bird ever taken on the property - a nice Tom donning 1 1/4 inch spurs and an 11 inch beard. My heart flooded with pride for dad.

Though my parents will always think of me as a kid, I like to think that I'm ahead of the curve when it comes to philosophizing about life and understanding the importance of strong family ties.  Over the past few years, I have done less shooting and focused more on letting my father and sister pull the trigger.  I get just as much satisfaction by being able to share in the memory and take a few pictures along the way.

Thanks for everything dad - I had a great time hunting with you and hope that we can continue to share moments together in the outdoors.

 

My Father and I

Posted on April 16, 2013 and filed under Life, Turkey Hunting.

Send that Thunder Chicken to the Freezer

With almost three months to go, some folks may call me crazy when it comes to the amount of prep work I do prior to turkey hunting season.  But ever since I harvested my first tom six years ago, I can't shake the turkey fever which sets in at the end of every January for me.   Diaphragm calls have made their way back into my lunch box again and weekend scouting trips become more frequent.  I begin to find myself dreaming more and more about the sound of a tom spitting and gobbling during one of those aromatic spring mornings. While the experience of turkey hunting is enough to satisfy my soul, there is just something about the challenge of harvesting a wary old gobbler to me.  It takes great skill and patience when pursuing the true King of Spring.  Below is a list of four key steps that I have come up with to help you better understand your quarry and give that Thunder Chicken a one way ticket into your freezer.

1) Scouting

No matter what type of game you are pursuing, I can never stress scouting enough.  Taking the time to find birds in a few different locations.  This will give you options when it comes time to fill your tag.  I like to have at least three properties on lock-down every year at least two months before season opens.  Waiting until the last minute to ask permission results in limited hunting opportunities, as many landowners have probably already given the green light to other hunters.

2) Determine Roost Sites

Determining roost sites can make your life a lot easier when it comes to hunting turkeys.  Turkey's here in Wisconsin tend to roost on south facing slopes or down in valleys where they are more protected from the wind.  Eastern birds often roost in maple, large oak, pines, elm and cottonwood trees.  In western parts of the country, turkeys are known to roost in trees such as fir, spruce, cottonwood and pine.  Roosts almost always have a water resource within 400-600 yards and are often times found along the edges of fields/meadows.  This allows for the birds to have an open landing zone when flying down from their roosts in the early morning.

The King of Spring from Cam Pauli Media on Vimeo.

3) Patterning Birds

Now that you've scouted out an area and determined a few good roost sites, it's time to pattern the birds in your turkey woods.  Often times I will put out my Moultrie trail cameras at least two months prior to my hunting season.  This gives me ample time to see where the birds are going, and at what times of the day they are on the move.  Trail cameras are placed along edges of fields or under potential roost sites.  Often times I will spend 5-6 mornings before my season just sitting in different locations on my properties to film and photography the birds I see.  This gives me a better understanding of the flocks in my area and where I will have the best chance at harvesting a mature bird.

4) Concealment

Author Cam Pauli with his 2011 harvest.

Pop up blinds are without a doubt are one of the most popular forms of concealment when it comes to turkey hunting.  They are easy to setup, transport and allow for a greater range of motion while going undetected.  While I own one myself, I prefer going a more natural route.  After patterning birds in my area, I like to create all natural blinds on built out of logs, sticks and brush.  These blinds are often usable for 3-4 years and often become better over time as vegetation grows and weaves its way through the material.  After I have a few constructed on the property, it is fairly easy for me to move around with only my gun and turkey calls.

Abraham Lincoln said it best, ""I will prepare and some day my chance will come.""  Make that day your best chance at putting a Thunder Chicken in the freezer.

Cameron Pauli has been an avid turkey hunter for the past six years of his life, 3 of which he has spent as a prostaffer for Flambeau Outdoors.  To learn more about Cameron, you can visit his website at www.campauli.com or follow him on Twitter at @CamPauli