Talking turkey (w/video)
By Eric Morken and Annie Harman
For a lot of hunters, January marks the time year where a lull in the seasons leaves them dreaming of the months ahead.
Deer, pheasant, waterfowl and fall turkey hunting seasons have all wrapped up. Some will spend these winter months chasing predators like fox and coyote in Douglas County, but others will wish for warmer days when the snow melts, giving way to the sound of wild turkeys echoing through the woods in the spring.
Hunters and members of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) got a taste of spring this past Saturday as the Arrowwood Resort hosted the NWTF’s Minnesota state convention on Saturday. Those who wanted to show off some of their own artistic abilities could do so in the call-making contest, while callers of all ages showed off their skills in mimicking the yelps, clucks and cackles of the wild turkey in a calling contest on Saturday afternoon.
Tracy Pedretti of La Crescent was one of the callers who traveled to Alexandria to get his turkey fix during these winter months. Pedretti, 48, has been competing in turkey calling contests for 25 years. He’s lost count of the division titles he has brought home during that time. For him, it’s more about meeting up with fellow callers and trying to perfect the sounds that will make toms come running in the spring.
“It’s a lot of camaraderie with other callers and becoming a better caller makes you a better hunter,” Pedretti said. “You’re just more proficient in the woods and more realistic. I also make all the mouth calls for Nature’s Voice Game Calls, so I just enjoy doing it.”
Pedretti competed in three divisions on Saturday. He used his mouth call and took third in the Minnesota State championship and third in the Open championship, which matched up callers from around the country. He also took second in the Owl Hooting Division.
“I’ll practice at least three times a week,” Pedretti said. “When it gets about a month before the contest, it’s every day. It’s year around.”
Pedretti uses that practice to chase gobblers in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. He, like a lot of turkey hunters, can’t wait for that first gobble of the spring to ring out. At least for one day on Saturday, those hunters were able to talk and daydream about a season that is only a couple short months away.