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The Beginnings of a Young Turkey Hunter

HelgesonBy Dale Helgeson

-- This past year, I was happy to receive a fall turkey tag and had the privilege of taking a future hunter into the woods. My new stepson, Cody, and I went out to set up our turkey blind the night before on the field edge where the turkeys frequent on their way to feed in the neighboring cornfield.

We decided to sit in the blind for a while to get a feel for it for the morning hunt. Cody had never gone hunting and was excited to be afield on his first trip. As with most youths, he wasn't overly excited about sitting, so I took him for a stroll around the land to show him around a little bit. After our walk, we headed home so he could get to bed early for the morning hunt, but we ended up watching a hunting video until after 10 o'clock.

I woke him up the next morning, and he quickly got ready for the hunt. It was a windy, misty morning, and we were glad we were using a full tent blind. We got into the blind right before daybreak. Knowing the birds would be skittish in the high winds, we were hoping they would head for the open field. After sitting for a little while, Cody asked if we could go looking for them.

I said I would be glad to take him and try to stalk some turkeys as it is a great technique in the fall. I will usually try to find the birds and then either stalk up on them or scare them and try to call them back together.

We proceeded to the edge of the cornfield and the soybean field with no luck. We checked all the wood edges and finally went into the woods with no success. After being wet from the rain and not wanting to discourage my little future hunter, I told him I would take him home so we could dry our clothes and get some lunch.

After letting our clothes dry in the high winds, we had a nice warm lunch and headed back out. We drove by some fields where I have permission to hunt to see if any birds were working the fields but we didn't see any. We then decided to go back to our original location.

We proceeded to the edge of the cornfield adjacent to a clover field. No birds were present, but we saw a lot of deer sign, so it still kept Cody interested in being out there. Then we walked along the edge of the cornfield until we hit the wood line along the unpicked soybean field. At the end to the woodlot, we saw two birds on a limb about 5 feet off the ground.

I told Cody to get down, and we crawled about 40 yards but couldn't get a shot before the birds saw us. They jumped down out of the tree and walked away from us. Knowing they were spooked but not really bad, we decided to try to get to the field edge and see if we could still get a shot.

We hunched over and walked to within 20 yards of the field edge and then saw some birds working the edge. I told him the first bird we could get a shot at we would take. I had to shoot between some birch trees but had a small gap to use for a clear shooting lane. There were several birds so we had to wait for one to present itself without another bird within the shot range as they were walking side by side.

Finally a small hen presented herself for a shot and I took it, dropping her in her tracks. Then the turkeys started putting and walking all around us in the wood lot. We proceeded out to get our bird and could still hear the other turkeys putting around. So I told him we would go up a little farther and see if we could call them to us.

We lay down in some grass on a hill, and I started to give some soft yelps on my diaphragm call, and sure enough, seven birds came within 10 feet of us. Cody was very excited about being that close to them and told me that they would have been easy pickings. I told him that they were almost too close to shoot.

The Reward
We then took our bird home to show his mother and grandmother, and they were so proud of him. I think he will be hooked on turkey hunting for quite a while.

Dale Helgeson
Cody Garlock
Delavan, Wisconsin

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