Tagged Out On Turkey

I’ve been hunting basically my entire life with various levels of effort but there’s never been a time when I could say that I’ve been ‘tagged out’. Back in Virginia we got 6 deer tags and I don’t think I ever killed more than 2 maybe 3 in one season. I think we got 3 turkey tags and I never even killed a single one. This year I got two Wisconsin turkey tags and was lucky enough to fill them both.

You can read about filling my first tag here but the second tag provided quite a show. Once again Donnie and I arrived early and set up in the dark. We thought we’d put together a great set up and as we finished setting up we could hear the birds gobbling from their roosts. I also heard the drumming of a ruffed grouse for the first time and it continued throughout the morning. As soon as it was light enough to see we had a couple of deer in the field but they quickly disappeared back into the woods and not long after the show started.

I was first to spot some gobblers heading into the field and as they made their way into full view at just over 40 yards but we heard quite an odd sound. It honestly sounded like some squeezing a cat and shaking it. I don’t know exactly what that would sound like from experience, but it was a very odd sound and it had to be close to what that would sound like. As a hen came into view I found the source, it was a scruffy old hen attempting to gobble, it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. As I whispered to Donnie, “That crazy sound is that old hen trying to gobble,” his response summed it up well, “Well . . . that’s new.”

As we sat there anxiously six toms, four jakes and three hens walked right passed us at just over 40 yards barely giving us a second thought. We were hunting from a blind with a pair of Dave Smith Decoys, what was the deal? This is basically a guarantee of a set up. Despite the lack of shot opportunity the birds put on an awesome show. Gobblers were chasing and fighting Jakes and all six gobblers basically in perpetual full strut. It was the most action either of us had ever seen in one field. Let’s not forget the hen that was gobbling, it was the one sound that guaranteed a hearty gobble from every male bird in earshot for some reason.

As the birds slowly made their way into the woods we decided they couldn’t see the decoys and maybe we set the blind further out than we thought. So I belly crawled out and moved the decoys to slightly higher ground since there were still two gobblers on the far end of the field. As I got back to the blind we both just kind of sat around discussing what we should do next. Should we ditch the blind and try a stalk? Should we just stay put? I don’t know that we ever came to a definitive conclusion but we ended up sticking it out for a little bit.

After the birds had disappeared into the woods for a solid 30 minutes we saw two buck yearlings come out into the field. Donnie’s response to me pointing them out was, “If the turkeys are freaked out by the blind there is no way they are coming over here.” I laughed and replied, “Watch them make a B-line right for the blind.” Sure enough they came right over and stopped at maybe 5 feet and peeked into the opening in the blind before making their way into the woods behind us.

Eventually a lone hen made her way out of the woods on the other side of the field. Donnie spotted her first and we both remarked that we could have a second chance. Moments later Donnie forcefully grabbed my leg and whispered, “Don’t move! Tom at 10 yards and coming in! . . . ok . . . Slowly grab your bow.” The lone tom had come in from the opposite side silently and we couldn’t see him because of the blind. He came right in and attacked the Jake decoy as I slowly got situated and came to full draw. As he came down from an attack on the decoy and put his wings down I aimed at the crease near the bend in the front of the wing and released. Luckily, this time my arrow hit perfectly on the first shot and he flopped a few yards and expired. Once again the GrizzlyStik tipped with the SilverFlame XXL had made quick work of the turkey.


In two short mornings I had filled both of my Wisconsin Turkey Tags. This Tom was older than my first bird but slightly lighter and with a shorter beard. He did however have longer spurs coming in at a solid one inch each and a much prettier fan. Regardless, I was completely overwhelmed and excited, but again I sat in silent disbelief. Hunting never comes this easy to me and I guess it comes down to having good access and good friends. There were high fives and pictures taken and again that contented feeling of accomplishment.

As we finished up shooting a few pictures we took a look at the view from where the turkeys had come in. Sure enough the blind stuck out pretty bad and new ruts from the fields being sprayed covered the hen decoy and a good part of the jake from their point of view. However, from the other side the decoys popped out great and the blind blended with the field line. Thank goodness that lone Tom came through on the other side!

Donnie and I made a pact . . . Next year he’s up first and we’re going blind-less .  . . Should be interesting . . .

  • Al Quackenbush

    Awesome read and congrats on filling both tags, Will. I’ll bet there was some excellent hunting conversation in the blind. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

    • TheWilltoHunt

      Thanks Al! It’s a shame they aren’t bigger, the meats all gone but the memories will be enjoyed forever!

  • Sean C

    Congratulations, and good to see the new state treating you well. For the record, Virginia gives you six deer tags with the license and as many bonus tags as you want to buy so long as you stay within the two-deer-per-day limit (most zones within the state). While it is theoretically possible to tag out, you’d need a freezer the size of a decent warehouse before you tried it.

    • TheWilltoHunt

      Thanks Sean! Yeah I’ve never even come close to 6 much less close enough to worry about bonus tags! LOL