Minnesota’s spring turkey season is just two weeks old, and it’s already been a memorable one for many hunters. We asked readers to share their turkey tales, and here are a few compiled by Outdoors writer Doug Smith.
Bryce and Cole Helget, 10, Oak Grove
The 10-year-old twins bagged their first gobblers ever on opening weekend of Minnesota’s spring turkey hunt. They were hunting in Otter Tail County while visiting their grandparents. “The boys were thrilled, and they are turkey hunters for life, they are hooked, just like their dad,’’ said mom Stacy Helget. “Their dad, Darrin Helget, helped the boys call in their birds.”
Harold Buckentin, 90, Stillwater
(As told by son, Don)
“Dad’s 90 years old and still takin’ care of business.
On opening morning, we saw a pile of birds, including four jakes [young males] right in our lap, and he chose to pass and wait for a tom. Later he missed a nice tom that would come no closer than 40 yards. Still, we saw 25-plus birds in the field — half were mature toms — strutters all over the place!
On Day Two, we saw 17 or 18 birds during the few hours we were there. None close.
On Day Three, we got all set up and my gut told me we needed to move closer to where they had been coming out into the field. Ten minutes later we were set up on a grassy fence line. Two hens came first, then a few more, then the big guy came out and headed straight for my jake decoy. Dad dropped him at about 20 yards — his third Minnesota turkey in three years.
I feel so fortunate to still be able to hunt with my Dad. As long as he wants to keep going, I’m going to do all I can to help. Congrats Pop!”
Tilly Nugent, 11, Minnetonka
(As told by dad, Steve)
“Tilly has been going turkey hunting with me since she was 7. She would pack a backpack with treats and stuff to play with. She wouldn’t shoot, but she would just come along to experience the hunt, and I wanted to start a hunting tradition with my kids. This year, she hunted for the first time, bagging birds in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The bird in the photo was taken near Belle Plaine. We were skunked the first morning. The second morning there were gobbles everywhere and then they all shut off at 6:30. It was quiet until 7 a.m. when the tom gobbled once and came over the crest of the hill with a couple jakes and some hens. He put on a great show and took his time getting to shooting range. Being in a blind, I whispered in Tilly’s ear to let her know when to move her gun and when the tom was in range to shoot. She did a great job. This year instead of carrying her goody bag of treats, she got to carry out two nice toms. Lucky kid!”
Sophie Linder, 14, Harris
(As told by her dad, Eric)
“Sophie, a five-time Minnesota state calling champion, harvested this 21-pound turkey while hunting with me in east-central Minnesota. After hearing several gobblers early in the morning, nothing seemed to be responding to her calls. But, a short hike toward the inner part of the property gave way to a vocal tom. Twenty minutes later, and several soft yelps and purrs, and a great shot, the bird was down. The hugs and stories came next during a short jaunt back to the truck. The only problem: ‘I kind of wish it wasn’t over so soon,’ stated Sophie. ‘The time in the woods with my dad is what I really look forward to.’ ”
Kelton Vavrosky, 15, Eagan
(As told by dad, Chuck Vavrosky)
“As daylight broke, we had turkeys gobbling all around us. We called a tom up on the far side of the field, 200-yards away. It came full strut up to 125 yards and froze. I tried every trick, but it would not budge. The next morning we set up our decoys, and I put one hen 30 yards out, a second hen at 15 yards, then took my Jake decoy and mounted the hen decoy with it. At 6:30 a.m. the tom came strutting about 125 yards out. I purred and he stuck his head up and looked at our decoys and started drumming. I told Kelton we got him. The tom strutted past the first hen and came right in and attacked the jake decoy. Kelton’s shot was delivered. It was a 26-pound turkey with an 11-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs.”