Big Changes Happening on August 7, 2019.

COUNTDOWN: DAYS HRS MINS SECS

A season of close calls and frustration

This past Tuesday marked the end of the 2019 Wisconsin turkey hunting spring season, which started the Wednesday before Easter.

I heard, saw and read about several hunters who were successful. My journey across the six-period season was incredibly frustrating, yet so much fun at the same time — from missing a golden opportunity on two big toms the day before Easter, to having farming equipment silence several gobbling birds on Sunday and everything in between.

I turkey hunted on public land for the first time in my life this spring. I bounced around several different Shawano County public pieces of land during Period D (May 8-14).

After a rainy day on May 9, I decided to sneak out for a quick hunt in the waning minutes of daylight.

After finding what I thought was a pretty solid spot, I decided to tweet a picture on Twitter. As I waited for the picture to upload, I caught movement in front of me. Once my eyes adjusted to the dark woods ahead of me, I saw a turkey — big enough to be at least a jake — walking away from me.

I hunted the same piece of land on May 12. It turned into my best public land opportunity, as I heard my first four gobbles of the period, but was ruined when a pair of dogs decided to come barking and running at me just when the gobbler had committed.

The final two periods of my season were spent up in Chippewa County, where I looked to redeem myself from an early season miss.

On May 17, I made almost an identical setup to when I had missed, but sat on the other side of the open lane I hoped the turkeys would work down.

Things went almost exactly how I hoped, as a lone tom fired up at 6 a.m. and walked through the neighbor’s open field and right toward my setup.

Right when the gobbler was about to cross over to our property, he stopped in his tracks and hung up — like he remembered what happened just a few weeks prior and thought better of taking two more steps.

The following day, my brother Sawyer rejoined me in the woods. After a late start due to the weather, he and I tucked into a ground blind a little farther back of the border.

Minutes after setting up a pile of decoys, a curious hen invaded our space. When she arrived, I thought that might be our ticket to getting a longbeard to come further onto our property, but she actually ended up ruining our hunt.

A couple minutes after the hen arrived, a tom fired up on the neighboring field, but the hen stuck around for about 40 minutes, forcing me to not call at the tom.

Eventually the hen worked off and took the tom with her, ending our morning and weekend as the following day brought cold temperatures and rain.

My brother and I returned to the woods together on May 24, and I had what I thought was a great plan to seal the deal.

I moved inside the woods and closer to where I thought the toms were roosting, while having my brother remain near the property border in case they stuck to their pattern.

I got within about 100 yards of where a bird was gobbling on the roost, but when he flew down, he went the other way. A half hour later, my brother’s calling got him fired back up and headed our direction again.

The bird continued to gobble as he worked in between my brother and I, but neither of us ended up seeing him before calling it a day.

I hunted the next two days on my own, moving closer and closer to where the birds were roosting. The first day, they flew down across the creek on our property and never would fully commit to coming back to the side I was sitting on.

So the next morning — my last for the year — I sat tight to the creek and hoped they would fly down on my side. Instead, they followed the pattern they had for most of the season, ending up by the neighboring field and out of harm’s way.

After packing up my gear for the final time, I contemplated my season as a whole. Despite having to eat an expensive tag soup this spring, it definitely won’t deter me from chasing birds again soon.

Speaking of which, I’m already planning how to turn this year’s close calls into success stories next spring.

Morgan Rode is the sports editor for the Shawano Leader. Readers can contact him at sports@newmedia-wi.com.