Re-Visiting Last Year’s Hunting Grounds

We spent another weekend out looking for turkeys. Since we hunt on public land, and neither of us really knows the good spots (yet), doing the legwork to find the animals is essential.

We didn’t go fly fishing on Saturday as hoped- I ended up closing at work (I tend bar), which is just whenever the last patrons leave. I got done around 10:30. Matt had gone to the Deer and Turkey expo with some of his coworkers that afternoon. I had a text on my phone stating “Never let me into the expo alone again”. We have a lot of new toys. Anyhow, he was out with friends by the time I got home. I went and got him, and we went to bed. He wasn’t feeling great the next day.

I finally dragged him out of the house around 3pm. We decided to take a look at the public land we used for deer season  (SunnySlope), as well as sight in his most recent rifle purchase and attempt a coyote hunt. After I shot my doe there last Fall, I had seen a turkey walk across the field in front of me.

Here be turkeys. Or Dinosaurs.

Here be turkeys. Or Dinosaurs.

It’s all old cornfields-turned-clover, and not far along the old tractor access, we saw these. As we continued along the road to the back field at the top of the hill, we saw plenty more turkey tracks of all sizes. We also saw plenty of deer tracks. This was good, as after gun season, and late season bow, we’d barely seen any deer sign.

For reference, my hand is about 5 3/4" from the tip of my middle finger to the heel of my hand.

For reference, my hand is about 5 3/4″ from the tip of my middle finger to the heel of my hand.

We saw these monster tracks all the way back as well. This bodes well for deer season. This particular unit was pretty heavy on the deer sign last year as well. The problem is, it’s only about 7 miles outside of Madison, and it gets incredible hunting pressure. One of the last days we went out for the first gun season last year, we saw 5 other hunters. The very last day we went out for bow season, the high of the day was only 15 degrees, and we still saw two other people out there. Did I mention it’s only 240 acres? None of them really seem to attempt to move in and out quickly or quietly, and sometimes they’ll get up and leave right during the near-sunset time when the most deer are out. Very discourteous.

Anyway. We saw plenty of very encouraging sign. We didn’t see any coyotes though. On the way back to the car, we ran into a group of three hunters. This was the first weekend of  the first turkey season, and they were attempting to stalk a group of gobblers. We politely waited for them to move down the road, and away from our path so we wouldn’t mess up their hunt.

The view while we sat down and waited.

The view while we sat down and waited.

Matt played with his spotting scope, and we saw a herd of about 7 or 8 deer in the field opposite us.

You definitely can't see them here, but it's the field in the center of this photo

You definitely can’t see them here, but it’s the far field in the center of this photo

Sunday we got up early and trekked on over to Goose Lake again. We listened for turkeys, but didn’t hear anything. We hunkered down and tried to call in some coyotes. We saw plenty more ducks and geese. We could probably even hunt from the grassy field opposite the lake, since the geese fly in so low as they hop from lake to pothole to lake. Even the ducks come in low. This is a plus, since we don’t have a retriever and have to gather our birds from the water ourselves.

Cloudy sunrise

Cloudy sunrise

We didn’t see any coyote out. We also experienced one of the foibles of public land hunting, especially in an area as populated as the area around Madison is. Around 6:30 or 7, someone walked their dogs past us. We were laying on the lee side of a small hill, and he probably didn’t see us. Plus, since coyote are always in season as pest animals, it’s not a defined season, like deer, when many people avoid land used for hunting. Kind of the way it works though, as it’s there for everybody to use. We packed up and headed out.

Walking back to the car

Walking back to the car

We decided to drive around the country “block” Goose Lake occupies, as Matt had found a few other entrances/parking areas that would more easily access the far eastern end of this property. On the way over, we saw a decent sized flock of turkeys! I was a total flake and forgot to take pictures of them. We even pulled over to get a look at them feeding in a tilled field. There were 3 toms in the group and about 4 hens. Hopefully, they nest or spend some time in more of the woods on that eastern side where we can get at them. We also saw a few more groups, a bit farther off the road as we drove back towards home.

Next weekend, we may go and take a look out at some land in Mazomanie. With the high hunting pressure at Sunny Slope and the moderate traffic at Goose Lake from hikers and dog owners, having a third option would be a really good idea.

Tomorrow’s post will cover the progress we’ve made on the boat trailer.






One thought on “Re-Visiting Last Year’s Hunting Grounds

  1. Pingback: Chilly Sunday Morning Turkey Report | Play Outdoors

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