The big gobbler stepped from woods to pasture, followed by three more long-bearded toms and a bunch of hens — a virtual herd of turkeys.
All ambled toward Tom Kalahar, nestled on the ground, wide-eyed at his good fortune. After hunting 23 hours during the first two days of a four-day Kansas turkey hunt, he hadn’t fired a shot.
“They came right down the edge of the woods toward me,’’ said Kalahar, of Olivia, Minn. When the first gobbler was at 40 yards, he fired his 12 gauge once, dropping the bird.
“Then I jumped up and shot another one at 50 yards,’’ he said.
And just like that he filled his two-bird Kansas bag limit. “That’s as sweet as it gets,’’ he said.
For many die-hard Minnesota turkey hunters, gobbler fever leads to long drives to distant states. Hunting for a few days during Minnesota’s spring turkey season just isn’t enough.
Which explains why Kalahar, Ben Hillesheim of Bird Island, Minn., and I drove eight hours on Friday to northeast Kansas, exchanging menacing Minnesota snowstorms for green grass, 65-degree temperatures — and turkeys.
Count me among those with turkey fever. I’ve journeyed to Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin, but Minnesotan gobbler hunters head even farther — to Florida, New Mexico, Texas and beyond.
“I just can’t get enough turkey hunting in Minnesota,’’ Kalahar said. “There’s nothing prettier in the world than seeing those toms strut. That’s as good as it gets in my world.
“And it’s just fun to go to different places and meet different characters.’’
Hillesheim feels the same.
“I like turkey hunting a lot,’’ he said.
This was our second trip to Kansas. Our first, in 2011, was remarkable. We returned home with five gobblers and hunting tales we’ll be telling for years. There was the eagle that swooped down at the hen turkey checking out my decoys. And there was Kalahar’s first “daily double.’’