By Kelly VanBeek


Turkey hunting is most definitely a cat and mouse game. Moves and countermoves. Most frequently, at least for me, mistake after mistake. The turks always remind you who is boss, that is for sure.

I had a prime example of this turk lurk game this spring, going in blind on a piece of public ground on one of the first days of Wisconsin’s season. The spot had been burned recently – perfect for turkeys and getting your clothes full of ash. It’s sort of my favorite. I really didn’t have any idea where to sit at sunrise, so I walked to a tree line in the burn unit and hit my owl call. Nada. Oh well. I sat down and waited for the morning serenade. Finally, I heard two gobblers, behind and to either side of me. I’m not sure if either of them were actually roosted on public, but I wanted to make a move toward one to close some distance before fly down.

I looped around the tree line and started working back toward the road along an edge. I didn’t particularly like any of the setup spots I could see in the low light, and as I was moving, the second tom from the other side of the unit actually sounded quite close now that I was out in the open. Classic indecisive Kelly decided to double back to near her original setup. I managed to scoop my first twin set of whitetail sheds on the way. Score.

I park myself in a gap in the tree line. Decoy out, shotgun on knee, as pictured. The toms go quiet for a bit at fly down. My sweet yelps go unanswered. And then, like a clap of thunder in a lightning cloud, a gobble rips across the burn unit. Close, but the terrain doesn’t let me see him. I belly crawl to a rise, and there they are, two toms strutting right where I had debated setting up previously. Rats. A hen appears, and they become immovable for the next episode of the hunt game. Gradually they work towards the tree line but several hundred yards down from me. I scramble to pack up my gear and hoof it on the other side of the tree line to set up again.

The spot I picked was not terribly comfortable, and after giving the birds ten minutes, I let my shotgun down. The sun was shining right in my eyes. Good move, I thought. You sat with your face to the sun. No sooner had I let my shotgun down, the hen popped through this same tree line I had been maneuvering around all morning. I’m not sure if she saw me move or if the decoy scared her, but she putted and took off. The toms soon appeared too, right where I had been positioned on my very first sit of the morning. For those of you keeping track, the score is toms – 2, Kelly – 0.

The toms were not quite as spooked as the hen, but they were unwilling to walk toward my decoy. I mean, why would they. I was probably sticking out like a sore thumb in that morning sunshine. They ended up moving in a direction that brought them right past the tree line opening that I had been sitting in from the picture. Toms – 3, Kelly – 0.

After some grumbling, I called the hunt for the morning. Three strikes for me and I was out. Next time I will heed the advice of a fellow turkey hunter – Kelly just sit your a** down!