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Morken: Still time to fill that tag as toms continue to sound off

Eric Morken

Turkeys are still gobbling on the roost for those who have a tag left to fill.

Sunday morning was as vocal as I have heard them all season, but it was much of the same in terms of actually getting them to commit. Toms and jakes gobbled back and forth with each other in the trees. It was like someone flipped a switch once they got down.

I didn't hear a gobble from 6:30 to 9:30 Sunday morning until I was on my way back to the boat to cross the river. A few cuts on my mouth call got a bird to sound off in the distance.

I knew the general area he was at, but getting there meant crossing the water and going up top along a field edge. It would be a lot of walking, but a response from this far away meant there was a possibility that bird was workable.

After a half an hour, I was within 100 yards of where I was headed to set up when the tom surprised me with a gobble. I looked around, scrambling to find a tree to sit up against. He kept gobbling through the trees, which are now thick with leaves, as I set my decoy up in the field.

I was confident I could call this bird in when I sat down. Only one problem. A branch was in my line of fire. I got up and waited for a gust of wind to come up before breaking it off. I don't know if he heard me or saw me, but I never did hear from that bird again.

That's kind of how my week of turkey hunting went after missing a golden opportunity last Wednesday evening.

I was on my way into Alexandria with my wife and daughters when we noticed two toms strutting in the field just east of our house. My wife asked me why I wasn't going to go hunting, and I didn't have a good answer.

We turned the car around so I could get the camo on and head into the woods. I called, and 15 minutes passed without a sound. Then he gave his presence away.

A single gobble was all I needed to get his attention again. We talked back and forth for a minute before I saw him strutting through the trees.

He was coming. I had a lone hen decoy out that he caught a glimpse of. The tom slowly strutted his way through the bright green grass to within three feet of the decoy, but I was pinned to a tree and couldn't move.

He gave me just enough time to pull the bow back once he came out of strut and turned to his right. I steadied the pin where I wanted it and released an arrow. Feathers flew, but the bird ran off. Definitely not the kind of run that looked like he was fatally wounded.

I found my arrow to discover that there was very little penetration - about an inch. The broadheads I was using were Ulmer Edge expandables that I have had a lot of luck with deer hunting.

I'm still new to turkey hunting with a bow. Through some talking with guys who have been at this for a while, I decided the next day to switch to a blade with a much bigger cut on turkeys.

I looked for that tom until dark that night. Nothing. Not a sign of blood or turkey.

My hope was the arrow had so little penetration that the bird would survive. Sure enough, he was back in the field across the road the following morning with the other tom again. Both were in full strut working a small group of hens.

There's still time to close the deal. The archery turkey hunting season runs through May 31.

Those using firearms who didn't fill their tag already can also hunt from May 17-31 in the permit area they selected on their orginal license.

This time of year can produce an active tom as hens head to their nests and leave them lonely for much of the day. Now's not the time to give up hope.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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