Foremosthunting.com Host Chris Larsen meets with Wisconsin DNR Upland Wildlife Staff Specialist & Farm Bill Coordinator Scott Walter to discuss the 2011 Spring Turkey Season. Topics include turkey populations, habitat, regulations, and the future of turkey hunting in Wisconsin.
For more information on Turkey hunting and turkey guns, check out our guns and ammunition page at Foremosthunting.com. Justin is working on an article detailing the best way to pattern your shotgun for this season. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook profiles for this upcoming article.
With life's responsibilities pulling at us everyday, most of us don't get to hunt and fish as much as we would like. In the Northwoods cabin fever is beginning to set in. We've been cooped up all winter and when opportunities to get out and do things present themselves, we have to wear multiple layers. One of my favorite activities is reliving my favorite outdoor activities through photos.
I rarely leave the house without a camera. Missing a great photo opportunity is heart breaking. All of these photos were taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera. No fancy aperture tricks and no photoshop work either. Just raw photos taken in my favorite places in the world. Here are some of my treasured outdoor photos with a short description of each.
Sunset On The Mishigami - I snapped this one back in 2006 while fishing for salmon on Lake Michigan near Two Rivers, WI. The water was as calm as I've ever seen on the lake and the evening was beautiful. We put a few fish in the boat too.
Morning In The Marsh - From an opening day duck hunt on my favorite Central WI duck pond. My good buddy, Jason Oswald, just paddled a few of our hunting pals to the other side of the bay we were hunting. I don't remember how we did that day, but I'll cherish this photo forever.
Long Lake Magic - This one was taken by my good friend, Andy Gehrke, of Minneapolis, MN. About five years ago, a group of eight of us met in Phillips, WI for a weekend of fishing and debauchery. Another friend was soon to be married and we all pledged to meet every year for an annual "bachelor party". Most of us kept our word for three years before other responsibilities spoiled the fun. This is one of many memorable photos from the 1st Annual Bachelor Party.
Honkers On The Horizon - My hunting buddy, Jesse Windmiller, took this one. Foremost Outdoor TV ProStaffers Tyler Hinner and Matt Appel keep an eye out for canada geese in a Clark County, WI farm field. We put a few on the ground that day and had a blast.
Echoes of The Edmund Fitzgerald - If you've read enough of my blog posts, you know heaven on Earth for me is Minnesota's North Shore. I took this photo from the deck of a rental house just north of Lutsen, MN. My wife's family rented this house for the weekend for several years until the owners decided to move in. I don't think I'll ever get to go back to this particular spot on Lake Superior, but the time spent there was priceless. To see more awesome pictures from the North Shore, check out my photo essay.
Kayaking The Kinni - I took this one from my kayak on the Kinnickinic River in Pierce County, WI. My wife and I spent an afternoon paddling the river a few years ago. The Kinni is a trout stream of legendary proportions in this neck of the woods. The fish don't get enormous, but surveys show about 5,000 fish per lineal mile of stream or about one fish per foot.
Focus - Here's my best hunting pal, Wilbur. This one was taken on a man weekend at the family cabin last fall. The boys got together to do a little cabin maintenance, early season deer hunting, and target shooting. Wilbur didn't get to do any hunting that weekend but he had his share of table scraps and rubs behind the ear.
Gichigami Fun - This is one of my all-time favorites from 2010. My son, Jack, is finally old enough to enjoy throwing rocks into the water. The shores of Lake Superior obliged with plenty stones to throw. This photo was taken near the Kadunce River, just north of Grand Marais, MN. The vastness of the Gichigami in the background contrasts with the fragility and innocence of the young man with a monkey on his back. Yep, I might have asked him if he wanted the monkey off his back a few dozen times over the weekend.
High Altitude - The opportunity to take a photo from above a hot air balloon is rare. I took this shot at 1,000 feet from another balloon. I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Hudson Hot Air Affair for two years in a row. The Hot Air Affair is a balloon festival held in Hudson, WI. A lot of people are puzzled by winter ballooning but it's actually the best time of the year to go. The balloons are much more responsive to heat and fewer heat blasts are required to keep the balloon afloat. This makes the ride more peaceful. Wildlife viewing is also easier with leaf-less trees and a snowy backdrop. People always ask if it's colder. It's not. The balloon moves with the wind so there is no wind chill.
Traditions - I like to take pictures of my dog. Wilbur and my friend, Jesse Windmiller, are big fans of each other and here they are together. I was lying flat on my back when I took this one. The coolest aspect of this shot has to be the arrow on it's way down range at the perfect moment. I don't think I could get this shot again if I tried it a thousand times.
Hardcore Hound - Jesse took this photo of FOTV ProStaffer Matt Appel's dog. Wes is a big, bruising lab who takes his job seriously. Still, this photo captures his easy going personality. I crack a smile everytime I lay eyes on it.
Rookie Performance - This is without a doubt my most special outdoor photo. Unfortunately, a computer virus has left me with only a lower quality version of it. I have a framed hard copy on my desk but the digital version would have been lost forever had I not uploaded it to the Ducks Unlimited photo gallery. This was a hard lesson in the value of backing up files.
This photo was snapped on my super secret hunting spot in Central Wisconsin on opening day of 2005. Wilbur was just seven months old and this was his first bird. My hunting partner was running late but Wilbur and I were ready for the opening bell. This suzy made her appearance just a few minutes after legal shooting time and I wasn't going to pass up a chance to get my dog his first bird. She hit the water about 20 feet from shore and I sent the yellow dog on his way. I was beeming as he swam right to the duck while dodging the decoy spread. Our summer work was paying off! Then he showed his inexperience. Wilbur swam circles around the downed bird. I waded out and teased him with it until he couldn't take it any longer. He scooped her up and brought her to hand. I had time to snap some pictures as he slithered through the cattails.
I can't put a price on these photos. They take me back to some of my favorite days afield. They will be treasured for the rest of my life. If you don't make a habit of taking a camera along on your outdoor adventures, I encourage you to do so. A lot of people don't understand why we do what we do. Even great photos can't tell the entire story. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, you won't waste any breath arguing with them.
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Turkey season is a time of rebirth… I’ve often written about this and it is true. Blankets of snow that dominated the landscape a few weeks earlier are gone. The shades of brown underneath return to green. Animals that survived the harshness of winter have a hop in their step. The going is about to get easier for them over the next few months.
There are many hunters who pursue coyotes and small game all winter long. But most of us haven’t hunted since the final days of deer season. I must admit to missing an entire winter of hunting. Work & family obligations kept me out of the woods all winter long. A planned coyote & shed hunt was put off due to an unexpected surgery. My best hunting partner had to take a four month work assignment in Chicago. The people we enjoy the hunt with are first and foremost in just how much enjoyment we’ll have.
Those are all regrets. I wish I would have made it out a little more. With spring comes a new season and a blank slate. It’s turkey time! The woods will soon erupt with gobbles as winter flocks break up and turkeys begin to form breeding flocks. Jakes and toms will battle for mating supremacy while hens scout for the perfect nesting spot. As the birds do what birds do, hunters will drive country roads looking for them. We will oil guns and pattern loads. Hunting blinds and turkey decoys see the light of day again. Anticipation is running high.
I have experienced great success during fall turkey season the past few years, but my spring turkey seasons haven’t worked out. My blank slate was covered in red ink by the end of the season. In 2009, I suffered some gun issues and was forced to use someone else’s gun. A late morning set up worked to perfection. A dandy gobbler was right on top of my decoy at 25 yards when I tapped the trigger. The bird staggered a bit and I hit him with lead again. The shots were off the mark and we never recovered that turkey. Nothing is more frustrating than not recovering a wounded animal. I’d rather have gobblers henned up or stopping in their tracks out of range. It’s a dismal feeling that I won’t let happen again.
My 2010 season was another exercise in futility. The Mexican Riviera is a favorite vacation destination for my wife and I. Unfortunately, we booked our trip before the Wisconsin turkey season drawing. Our vacation wiped out three and a half of the five days I would have to hunt. I didn’t worry about it. The other members of our turkey camp would have a few days in and they would no doubt be tagged out by the time I arrived. A full day and a half to get a bird? I should be able to do that. I scouted hard for them a few weeks earlier and was confident in a handful of locations. The moment I hit the ground in a US airport, I called the fellas. The weather was tough and the birds were call shy. They were turkey-less. The next morning wasn’t any better. When I arrived in camp my focus was on helping them fill their tag and filming them doing it. I never picked up a gun last spring.
That brings us to this season. Yes, birth is definitely in the air. My wife is eight months pregnant. The doctors say she could go into labor at any time. I will most certainly be sleep deprived on opening day of turkey season, but I won’t be wearing camouflage. In an effort to stay married, I have relegated myself to a late season hunt this year. I’ll wait until May to head into the turkey woods. The greenery will be more mature, the birds will be wary, and the mosquitoes will have developed a finely tuned taste for blood. Yes, this is how you fill a blank slate. The good news is I’ll be used to functioning well in a zombie-like state. Turkey hunting & life… no one said it would be easy, but I’ll enjoy every minute of it.
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