At nearly 87, Dave Conger was one of thousands of hunters in the woods — each with a tale to tell.
For Dave Conger, who turns 87 this month, the outdoors is his Fountain of Youth.
“I’ve hunted and fished all my life,’’ he said the other day. And he continues to do so.
“I don’t have the strength and stamina I used to, but I can still get out,’’ he said.
So last week, Conger hunkered in a portable ground blind with his son-in-law, Tom Anderson, when a huge gobbler strutted into shotgun range, enticed by Anderson’s calling. Conger, of Oak Grove in Anoka County, fired once, dropping the 23-pound long-beard.
Long-beard indeed. The whiskers measured 11.5 inches — a true trophy. Not bad, for his first gobbler ever. “I shot a jake three or four years ago,’’ said Conger, who took up turkey hunting in recent years.
“He was like a 9-year-old kid after he shot it,’’ said Anderson, of North Branch. “He had a big grin and his whole face lit up, he was so excited.’’
Said Conger: “It was very thrilling.’’
He had hunted alone for two days, without success, before enlisting Anderson.
“He’s a very good caller,’’ Conger said.
When they drove up to Conger’s blind, they immediately heard three gobblers. Soon birds appeared behind them, Anderson said. He peeked out a rear window and watched a bunch of birds hike across a field, the wrong direction. Then a hen and tom appeared, and slowly headed toward the hunters.
“I did some soft yelps and purring, just to let them know we were there,’’ Anderson said. “The tom was strutting, and the sunlight hit him; it was spectacular.’’
The tom then spotted their jake decoy and approached it, enabling Conger to see it for the first time out his window. He slipped his safety off and fired, killing the bird cleanly at 25 yards.
“It was just a privilege to be part of his hunt,’’ Anderson said. “I told him that when I’m 87, I hope I’ll be as active as him.’’
Conger plans to try again next year.
Seeking turkeys in Wisconsin
I was huddled in a ground blind in western Wisconsin in the predawn darkness Sunday, hunting turkeys on the edge of a field and woods that gradually sloped into a ravine. A loud gobble at 5:45 a.m., maybe 40 yards in the woods, signaled I was in the right place.
Or was I?
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