It was barely 20 degrees on this late-December morning in western Wisconsin, but the radiant warmth of a propane heater and full concealment of a ground blind were more than enough to keep us comfortable. My relaxed eyelids hung like weights in between calling sequences with my Woodhaven Real Hen.
The soothing silence was interrupted and my heart went into overdrive as a lonely feathered female let out a raspy yelp.
"Should I shoot her?" I asked my friend Dan Johnson as the hen stood still and presented a shot outside the right-side window of our blind. He didn't respond to my question, but I knew it was my choice. I hesitated.
Instead of coming into our dual decoy spread as I expected, the little gal slipped behind a small ridge—just far enough to shield her from the wrath of my tightly choked Remington. The influence of our pleading calls wasn't strong enough to pull her off the track of her daily routine. She continued squawking as she strolled away to join the pecking party of a large flock in the pasture below our setup.
My heart sank, knowing I might have just failed to capitalize on a chance to kill my first-ever fall-season turkey. Three days remained in the season, but this was my last day to hunt. There's always next year, I thought. But that's what I'd been saying 5 years in a row.
Suddenly, from the same direction the first hen had come, another trash-talkin' girl revealed her presence. I hammered her back with some sharp strokes on my box call and peeled the fabric back from a side blind window to sneak a peek. She closed in quickly.
I ran my fingers across her beautiful Eastern feathers, slapped a tag on her leg and shook Dan's hand. As we crunched our way through the snow and headed for the truck, thoughts of spring gobblers flooded into my mind.
I'm a turkey hunter. It never ends.
This vocal fall hen couldn't resist the sweet sound of my Woodhaven box call.