Time to call in those longbeards is coming soon
Doug Adams is typical of a lot of Minnesotans who pursue wild turkeys in the spring - he enjoys getting into the woods.
For the last 10 years, the Adams have been going out after longbeards on a farm near Marion Lake in Otter Tail County. Doug has had up to four hunters in his party - his father, David, his sons, Brady and Brandon and his daughter, Ashley. Doug is the best caller of the group which makes him popular with the others.
"It's usually a pretty good time, we usually find time to squeeze it in," Adams said. "It's one of my favorite things to do in the spring of the year. Everything is starting to green up and it's just a good time to get out in the woods."
The Wadena sportsman has come up with some insights into turkey hunting that start right in his yard on Franklin Ave. A flock of 15 to 20 wild turkeys routinely visit the families' crabapple trees in the winter giving Adams a chance to observe them and even learn their calls. Yet it is out in the hunting woods that Adams has had his most unusual experiences with the big birds.
Once, while calling turkeys, he had a big hen turkey walk up to his blind and start pecking on it. She was the dominant hen of the area and she did not want the hen calls Adams was making to take any of her suitors away. For the next hour she gave Adams an array of purrs, yelps, clucks and cackles that attracted three toms. She then led the toms away from Adams' position. The hunt ended on a high note for Adams because the talkative hen called in a fourth tom and it wandering right past his blind.
Another time the Adams found one of their turkey decoys missing and another knocked over. When Doug went looking for the missing decoy he found a turkey pecking on it. The angry bird had pecked the decoy's head to bits.
Wadena's Ron Malone is also getting ready to do some turkey hunting but he might be entertaining some famous guests first.
Malone hosted two fellows with the last name of Grant last spring - Bud and Mike - both football coaches of some renown. The two hunters shot turkeys on a farm west of Wadena owned by Ron's brother, Dick.
Malone stayed in contact with Mike Grant this winter but he has not yet heard if they need a place to hunt. The 90-year-old Bud shot a 22.5 pound tom last year and Mike nailed a jake with an 8.5 inch beard.
In appreciation for his efforts on their behalf last spring, Ron was invited down to a Vikings football game last fall at U.S. Bank Stadium. It was not any seat.
"I sat in Bud's seat," Malone said.
Ron won't be out in either of the first two lottery seasons in April but the first week of May might find him in the woods with either a shotgun or a crossbow.
"I have shot turkeys with a shotgun but not with a crossbow," Malone said.
If spring is too hectic for the busy carpenter he will be stalking a turkey in the fall.
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Tricia Plautz was still familiarizing herself with the spring turkey hunting regulations when reached in the final days of March. Despite the snow and colder weather which arrived over the Easter weekend, the Henning area warden has seen signs that a good season is at hand.
"I know our population is pretty good, they've flocked up, there's turkeys everywhere," Plautz said.
Plautz pointed out that only male birds, toms and jakes, can be taken in the spring. They are breeding in April and May so the males will gobble to bring the hens to them. A turkey hunter who is calling a bearded turkey is actually getting him to do something which is contrary to his nature.
Turkeys have unbelievable hearing and keen eyesight. While they do not fly well they are tough to bring down in flight and shotgunners normally need a heavy lead load and a headshot to kill a turkey. Turkeys can also be taken by archery.
The spring season begins April 18 and runs through May 31 in Minnesota's 12 permit areas. Wadena, Todd and most of Otter Tail and Becker counties are in Permit Area 507. The 43-day season is divided into six segments. The first two segments will be for lottery winners only. After that, hunters who purchase licenses over the counter are allowed to hunt.