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Dick Ellis Blog:
10/9/2019
Fall brings with it something for everyone in the field from the angler to the hunter.  Just a few recent sessions of shooting the bull tell me that autumn is for the youngest of outdoorsman just learning the games to those of us more seasoned with our eyes focused dead ahead on for example, the whitetail rut. James Wallace captured this great buck on trail camera during summer scouting. James Wallace, my nephew-in-law (is there such a ...
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I Should Have Held It…..

First, all 44 Menards and 252 Kwik Trip locations carrying On Wisconsin Outdoors are now posted on this homepage.  Don’t forget to take your shot at winning your Kwik Trip Outdoors’ fishing trip with Super guide Phil Schweik.  Check out the details in the May-June issue of On Wisconsin Outdoors also posted on the homepage. Don’t forget more than 82,000 copies are also on the streets throughout Wisconsin.

My brother John Ellis and I couldn’t get to Grant County in the far southwest until Sunday due to a heavy work load to try and fill my Zone 1, period 3 turkey tag.  John would be the camera man, and I would handle the shotgun duties.  Both of us would call, how often and aggressively depending on what kind of response we found from the Toms when we arrived.

We left at 2:30 in the morning to make the more than two hour drive, drove back on the farmer’s property, walked back to a first familiar set-up point, set the ambush, and began to call. I think that a successful turkey hunt even if you do not see birds is when you encounter gobblers that are willing to talk to you often.  We had Toms periodically talking to us all day long.

Call it an outdoor writer’s ego but I’d rather tell personal success stories and that hasn’t happened lately.  Last November, for example,  I pulled all my archery equipment and camera up to my newly selected stand on a rope, broke off braches to allow an unobstructed draw and shot, turned around and into the eyes of a rutting, big, 9-point buck at 10 yards.  I was in the stand for three minutes.

Bad timing, but at least you know I tell the truth. This is worse timing.  I don’t remember ever discussing relieving oneself in the field. I know I have never been “caught” before when taking care of that business

To cut to the chase, we were sitting, calling and moving from sunrise to noon.  We were on our third ambush. The alfalfa narrowed to a finger surrounded by woodlots. I set the decoy in the middle of the finger, which meant the short crop sloped down over 50 yards to the woodlot opposite of where I was sitting and from where John sat 40 yards to my left with the camera.  When I sat against a tree in a wooded fenceline and looked through the decoy, I could not see the base of the trees in the opposite woodlot where birds might emerge from. If Tom came from that direction, I would first see his bobbing head coming up the far hill.

Our average sit was two hours.  Again we had actively calling birds on occasion. Near the end of the sit, for the first time I slowly stood, scanned the terrain, quietly stepped around the tree, did what I needed to do, and was back settled at the base of my tree two minutes later.  I never saw a thing. A deer almost immediately came from the far woodlot, walked to and around the decoy and to within 15 yards of me before making its way from the stage.

30 minutes later, I took the distant Fennimore noon whistle as a signal that it was time to move.  I walked over to John and he whispered, “What happened to those two big Toms?”

I didn’t even want to hear it. But of course I listened with a “you idiot” voice echoing in my head.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what had happened; two birds with long beards emerged from the woodlot and up the rise. The lead gobbler slammed on the brakes and his bright red head rose to take in what John thought was the decoy. They actually were coming to the decoy. He saw me. His head slammed back down, the Toms wheeled and beat feet.

“Their fat was just shaking on them as they ran,” John said. “They came maybe five minutes before that deer.  I think you wouldn’t have seen more than the lead bird’s head.  You didn’t see him?”

No I didn’t. I had to go.  And I will never go again.

Right now, I’m going north with a big woods turkey tag, zone 3, period 4. Then it’s off to Boulder Junction to put the pier in, invite water back into the cabin, and invite a new season officially into Wisconsin.

Wonder if I’ll lose a 30 inch walleye?

Thanks for connecting with On Wisconsin Outdoors.  Shoot straight.

Dick Ellis