…”Hearing that early morning gobble is a big reason I choose to turkey hunt each year”… By: Tom Lounsbury. With April finally arriving, I’m in the preparation mode for the impending spring turkey season, which includes getting reacquainted with my preferred shotguns. The title “Turkey Gun” conjures up a variety images in the minds of turkey hunters today. What seems popular is a compact and camouflaged shotgun which is equipped with a very tight-patterning screw-in choke tube. It will often be a 3-inch or 3 and half inch 12 ga “Magnum”, or even a behemoth … Read More
The “Sucker” Run Is On!
By: Tom Lounsbury. Spring sucker fishing is a very popular outdoor pastime in Michigan, which includes various techniques such as with hook and line, spearing (including bowfishing with archery tackle) and netting. In my agricultural Thumb area featuring countless drainages, I grew up with “sucker-spearing”, and it is a time- steeped pastime I much enjoy, and freshly cooked sucker is seasonal flavor I yearn for. For years, sucker-spearing had established seasons, typically set in April with various opening days occurring on different dates according to different zones in Michigan, which I had a problem with, … Read More
Enjoying Michigan’s fantastic spring turkey hunting opportunities is a great seasonal pastime.
By: Tom Lounsbury. Having been an avid Michigan spring turkey hunter for over 50 years, I’ve been able to witness how this popular pastime has evolved, with the steadily increasing wild turkey numbers which have successfully extended their territory, as well as the hunting equipment, including calls, specialized ammunition and shotgun chokes. Some of the rules have changed as well, such as the most recent which allows turkey hunters on private property to be able to use shotguns from an elevated platform or tree-stand. Because I often like a change of scenery in our great … Read More
The Quest For A Grand Slam Began Near Spring Training
By: C.J. VanWieren. Several months ago I received a text message from my dad asking me if I would be interested in a Florida turkey hunt. Without hesitation, I said I was absolutely in for a hunt. One, I have never hunted the Osceola turkey and would need that feather in my pursuit of the Grand Slam. More importantly than that, it was the last feather that my dad needed for his Grand Slam and I wanted to be a part of that moment. My dad had waited 27 years to complete his slam and … Read More
The Annual Spring Malady Known As ‘Wild Turkey Fever’
By: Tom Lounsbury. When April arrives I automatically develop a case of “wild turkey fever”, an annual spring malady that has been afflicting me for over 50 years. I find myself habitually sorting out turkey hunting gear, practicing with various turkey calls (when I do this indoors it eventually nets a rather blunt complaint from my wife, Ginny, who says some turkey lingo, such as hen purrs, are as annoying as fingernails scratching on a chalkboard) and patterning my turkey shotguns, of which I have a few favorites, at my backyard shooting range. To assure … Read More
A spring black bear hunting season in Michigan would be a great alternative
By: Tom Lounsbury. The black bear is a very adaptable critter and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. Its range goes from Canada, south to northern Mexico, and is found throughout the United Sates, with the only exception being Hawaii, which has no bears. Michigan has a steadily growing number of black bears with over 11,000 in the Upper Peninsula and around 3,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula, where the range is steadily creeping south. A black bear was recently captured in Grand Rapids and taken back up north and released. Typically, … Read More
Happy Memories While Hunting “Heartbreak Hill”.
By: Tom Lounsbury. In the spring of 2015, I had achieved 7 points per applying for a fall Michigan black bear tag, and I thought it best to contact a professional guide/outfitter in the event I got lucky on the draw. I needed to know what bear management unit to apply for, and I also knew a guide/outfitter would be the best way to go per hunting black bears over bait, because knowledge of specific area bears as well as an ongoing baiting program would up the odds towards success. After some research, I contacted … Read More
Spring turkey hunting in the beautiful rolling hills of Atlanta
By: Tom Lounsbury. There is no question that spring turkey hunting in Michigan will be forever in my blood, and has been since 1968 when I happened to be one of the 30 lucky recipients to get a special spring turkey license for the Baldwin area, which entailed a metal leg-tag. Turkey hunting in Michigan was in its infancy back then and I had learned about this special hunt from watching Mort Neff’s Michigan Outdoors TV show. Needless to say, I was stunned when a large envelope from the DNR arrived in the mail, and … Read More
Persistence Pays Off For Turkey Hunting
By: Jim Kushner. During my first few years trying to bag a gobbler, I learned a couple of important things about turkeys and hunting them. First, you must find out where they are. That means scouting a short time before season opens. I’ve scouted a spot several weeks in advance, only to return later and find the turkeys had moved on or had become call-shy because other hunters had been there ahead of me. That doesn’t mean you won’t see turkeys there. One year I found a small piece of state land with several toms … Read More
The Outdoors Is Certainly Beautiful
By: Tom Lounsbury “A great program for introducing women and girls to the outdoors!” For a long time, hunting especially was pretty much a “men only” pastime, although there were certainly exceptions, women who ignored status quo and went hunting. Annie Oakley is a prime example, who ventured into this atmosphere at an early age when her father died, leaving her mother and large family destitute. She would start hunting, first to feed her family, and then to provide an income (market hunting was legal in her era). Annie would sell game to a growing list of customers and because ammunition cost money, she learned to make each shot count, causing her to become one of the most remarkable shooters in history. She would pay off the mortgage on her family farm when she was only 15 years old and go on to become famous in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Thanks to my late mother, I was introduced to hunting at the wee age of three when I was her “pooch” for pheasant hunting. She was a crack shot with her single-shot Iver Johnson 20 ga, having been taught to shoot by older brothers and hunting for her family larder during the Great Depression. Mom learned to make each shot count, because ammunition cost money, an attitude she passed on to me when she taught me to shoot. She also could care less about any status quo stuff about “men only” pastimes, and she passed that attitude on to me as well. Needless to say, when Ron Sting of the DNR asked if I would help with a wild turkey seminar/hunt for a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) it was a no-brainer for me to jump right in. BOW was first created in 1991 and is now found in 44 states (including Michigan) and 9 Canadian Provinces. The recent BOW program took place at the Cass City DNR Field Office, starting with a wild turkey seminar there on Friday, May 12th, and a hunt with mentors on Saturday, May 13th. Ron Sting did an outstanding job arranging everything and the seminar involved every aspect of turkey hunting, with knowledgeable speakers on each topic. This was followed by actual shooting at “turkey” targets. Since I have a backyard shooting range and my home is only a couple miles from the Cass City DNR Field Office, the shooting portion was performed there. Some ladies had their own shotguns and some did not, and Ron Sting made sure all were fitted out and comfortable with shooting and putting an accurate pattern centered on the turkey target, entailing the all important head/neck shot. One (13 year old) young lady was totally unaccustomed to firearms and very nervous, and DNR Conservation Officer Seth Rhodea (who had earlier given a talk on turkey hunting ethics and safety) spent some one-on-one time with the young lady, off to the side and performing dry-firing exercises with an empty shotgun. As a result, the young lady was soon confidently hammering targets with a 20 ga and thoroughly enjoying it. In fact I could see all the ladies were enjoying it, and it was a real pleasure watching them all take their turn at eagerly shooting away at their targets, followed by examining the results of the shot, and the obvious confidence this created. There was no doubt in my mind, if a turkey hunting opportunity happened for any of these ladies, a gobbler was going down. Ron Sting had put the BOW information out with a cap for 10 ladies to participate, and in only two days he had an overwhelming response and it became a first come, first serve situation, with 11 attending, and some from as far away as Grand Rapids. Each woman had a mentor to take them turkey hunting and matters would begin with breakfast at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning at the Cass City DNR Field Office, immediately followed by hunters and their mentors heading out to pre-selected areas, some on state land and some on private land. I had two ladies riding with me in my Jeep; Debra Robinson of Macomb and Pam Walton of Lapeer, and we were heading out to meet with Bob Walker of Kingston. Bob had very generously agreed to lend a hand and had arranged a perfect spot for the two ladies to hunt. Bob would mentor Pam and I would mentor Debra and in no time we were all headed our separate ways into the woods. Deb and I would be in a wooden ground blind literally constructed into a hillside, which reminds me of a bunker with a shooting window. While Deb got situated in the blind, I set out two hen decoys with one at 15 yards and the other at 20 yards for a known range reference. I then quickly got back into the blind, because the gray light of dawn was fast approaching. Deb was sitting to the left and I to the right, and I told her to load her gun at he get go. She had purchased it used and it was dandy vintage Winchester pump 20 ga with an adjustable Poly-Choke at the muzzle, which she had cranked to the “full” position. We had learned the evening before that this shotgun was a great performer with #6, 3 inch Magnum turkey loads, which Deb had a great time shooting. I knew she and her gun were a perfect fit and she would do her part if I could do mine. To keep matters simple, I only had two turkey calls which were my “Ben Lee” box call (which I purchased in the early 1980’s and is a collector’s item) and a simple to use Quaker Boy “Easy Yelper” which only requires holding in one hand and pushing a wooden rod. I wanted Deb to see things could get done without a whole bag–full of gadgets and calls. My long recommendation to new turkey hunters is to only start with one call and learn to use it well before moving on to another call. I generally only take two calls out when I’m turkey hunting as it is, and I prefer only friction types including the pan/slate calls. I’ve found the mouth diaphragms don’t blend well at all with my chewing tobacco. After almost 50 years of turkey hunting I’ve developed some instincts which are purely gut-feelings which come out of nowhere and I can’t quite put it into words. All I can say is that when the woods lightened up and starting time was on I went to (hen) purring mixed in with an occasional cadence of (hen) yelps on my box call. I’ve heard it said that too much calling isn’t a good thing, but I’ve seen the occasion when you really can’t talk too much turkey, and my gut feeling let me know this was an occasion to really lay it on. We got an immediate response from left to right of 3 gobblers, and in a matter of seconds Deb and I knew the far right gobbler was incoming and closing the gap. That is when a fourth gobbler cut loose directly behind us less than 10 yards away. I immediately stuck my hand out the window (which the gobbler couldn’t see from behind us) and I let out a long drawn and very whining purr with the Easy Yelper to give the gobbler the idea a hen directly downhill was real interested in his advances. I was sitting with my back to the door when I felt the vibration a gobbler can send out as it drums, and I knew the bird was standing right next to the door while it looked over our blind’s roof at the hen decoys below. I whispered to Deb to freeze and not to even blink, and then the gobbler suddenly appeared at point blank range on Deb’s side of the window as it eased down the hill toward the decoys. He was one of the largest gobblers I have ever called in, with a long and thick beard. With its head up and moving around, this sharp-eyed bird had a 360 degree … Read More