My New View on Turkey Hunting from an Interview with an Avid Hunter

By Jeannine Warnke

Spring turkey hunting season is underway in Wisconsin!

My experience in the past with turkey hunting was limited to which store had the best sale price per pound for Thanksgiving dinner! I never stopped to think that there were people out there hunting wild turkeys. Over the last 5 years since moving to the country and living in the woods, my experience has broadened beyond the frozen food isle with the bunker of birds in plastic sleeves.

The Stand-off

For me, the West Side Story stand-off began with a harsh Wisconsin winter. We started to help sstain the wandering birds as they walked through our woods by feeding them corn. Word traveed because it didn’t take long before a dozen turkeys were running straight down our driveway every morning as if they were late for breakfast. It was quite comical to watch them, it put a smile on my face every time to see them running! Then came the interesting part of feeding them. One day a doe and her fawns wandered through the woods, spotted the corn, and helped themselves to breakfast. It was right about that time that the turkeys arrived and what unfolded next was like a scene out of West Side Story between the Jets and the Sharks. I watched as the turkeys puffed out their chests, flapped their wings, and went after the deer. I think the fawns thought they were playing at first. Back and forth they chased one another. It was clear to me that the turkeys had the advantage as the deer eventually backed away and watched as all the corn was consumed. Day after day I watched the same scene play out, never a dull moment.

Well, Helloooooo Ladies!

For me, the West Side Story stand-off began with a harsh Wisconsin winter. We started to help sustain the wandering birds as they walked through our woods by feeding them corn. Word traveled because it didn’t take long before a dozen turkeys were running straight down our driveway every morning as if they were late for breakfast. It was quite comical to watch them, it put a smile on my face every time to see them running! Then came the interesting part of feeding them. One day a doe and her fawns wandered through the woods, spotted the corn, and helped themselves to breakfast. It was right about that time that the turkeys arrived and what unfolded next was like a scene out of West Side Story between the Jets and the Sharks. I watched as the turkeys puffed out their chests, flapped their wings, and went after the deer. I think the fawns thought they were playing at first. Back and forth they chased one another. It was clear to me that the turkeys had the advantage as the deer eventually backed away and watched as all the corn was consumed. Day after day I watched the same scene play out, never a dull moment.

Interview with a Hunter… Love at First Gobble

Tom Tasker or Mr. T as we fondly call him, has been turkey hunting since 1993. The reason he started was simply a desire to spend more quality time with his youngest son. He had no previous experience or knowledge of the turkey hunt, but that didn’t stop him. He gathered enough information from a friend who had been hunting for a couple years, and he borrowed a shotgun from another friend to get started. So off he and his son went to southern Wisconsin, ‘Coulee Country’. The layout of the farmland he had permission to use made for a good first hunt with clear trails and nice ridges for great viewing. It was here Mr. T shot his first turkey, a 25¾ pound with a 12-inch beard. He showed us the full body mount from his first hunt, beautifully displayed in his office. He has now hunted in at least 6 different states and has shot well over 200 birds since he began in the 93.

A Typical Day

During the spring season Mr. T is up by 3:30am and in the woods by 4:30. He begins with an owl, coyote or crow call to get the toms gobbling so he can locate the birds to know where to set up. He then gets into position while waiting for legal hunting time to begin. He uses a ¼ blind in a ½ circle with a low chair. He wears a mask and camo, preferring a pine needle pattern. He told me that turkeys are color blind, but they have excellent eyesight and pick up on the slightest movement. He laughed and said, “You don’t move anything but your eyeballs or they’ll see you.”

Turkey Calls

Mr. T is a master of the turkey vocabulary. He brings all his calls with him because you never know what they will respond to on any given day. He has studied and practiced calls through the years and gave me a demonstration. I half expected some turkeys to knock on the door, he’s that good! He uses Lohman brand, they are the oldest box call, and he uses H.S Strut Field Champion, they are the most accurate. He once had a hen go after him when her mate started to respond to his call. Now that’s good mastery when a hen is trying to fight you for snagging her man!

Mouth Call 

 Slate Call 

Box Call

Gobble Call

Mounts and Memories

His downstairs hallway is lined with impressive, fanned mounts, that include the spurs and the beards. It is truly an amazing display of trophies. Equally as great as the mounts that line his walls are the passionate stories of each hunt that this 30-year veteran recalls like they just happened yesterday. He told me “It’s the memories and stories of the hunt that carve the passion.”

 (First Turkey 1993)

Sharing the Experience

His advice for young hunters, “Practice, practice, practice. Get to know the birds, their habits, and their vocabulary. Learn the calls and get good at talking to them. You are trying to fool nature and make the tom think that you are a hen trying to get him to come to you. 7 out of 10 times they won’t come. It’s about persistence, patience, and mastery of the calls. He not only enjoys the challenge of the hunt, he enjoys introducing people to the turkey experience and recommends that young hunters give turkey hunting a try. Just one time and you will be hooked. For Mr. T that’s what happened to him, it was ‘Love at First Gobble’.

 His Grandson                 

  Devon’s - 1st hunt.

Mr. T

Teaching friends


Jeannine Warnke is a free-lance writer and photographer from Wisconsin. Together with her husband they enjoy the hunt of every season. Her weapons of choice... Canon EOS R5 100-500mm and her pen. With her husband as her guide, she is learning about the ways of nature and has the privilege to photograph wildlife in its natural habitat. This season you can find her in the woods photographing turkeys in her lightweight turkey hunting camo hoodie from New View… Life is good!

To see more of her work visit her website at www.jeannineannephotography.com and you can follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jeannine.anne.photography/


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