THE RETURN

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The history of our family's northwest Wisconsin hunting property and surrounding area is relived with every hunt, and the same old stories and jokes only get better with age. It was 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon when Bob and Kevin Rauscher rolled up to the farm. It had been 3 years since Bob had stepped foot on the farm and it was as if something awakened in him. It was a place that raised him to be the man he is today. The afternoon began with driving through the hills, scouting for turkeys. Bob pointed out spots where he successfully harvested trophies in previous years, as well as places where he wasn't as lucky. When the truck circled back around the block, a group of turkeys were spotted in a distant field on the farm. Kevin and Bob decided they would sneak to the edge of the field using a ridge point for cover to set up a few decoys. There, they would wait for the turkeys to venture closer.

Kevin's calls echoed through the valley attempting to get the turkey's to come to the opposite end of the field. Moments later, a loud gobble rang out above the ridge where Bob and Kevin were sitting. It was the kind of gobble that gets your blood pumping the first time you hear it. A Tom came hustling towards the calls. Bob pulled up his 12-gauge and fired a shot, missing the bird. Looking at the scope, the guys realized the scope had shattered, and with that, the evening hunt was over. 

The following morning the guys went to town to get a new scope and returned to sight the gun in. It only took a few shots before they were off on the next hunt. Driving to town the guys spotted deer and turkey loaded in the fields late in the morning, so at 12:30pm on Friday, they headed back into the corn field. They set up a blind down where the turkeys had been spotted the previous day. Kevin set out three hen decoys. Deer filed into the field but were be spooked by the blind. Once again, the valley flooded with the sound of box calls, slate calls, mouth calls, and even a Jake gobble call. It was around 5:30pm when Kevin overheard a noise behind the blind, and soon after, spotted two Tom's in front of them walking the fence line. Suddenly, the birds took off. The blind had moved and they were busted.

It was as if someone or something wasn't on Bob's side that week and expectations were lowered. The guys had only seen a total of three Tom's and the birds hadn't been very vocal. Still, they waited and continued to call. Around 6:00pm, a few deer, a group of hens, and two jakes made their way into the field. Soon after, the same two Tom's reappeared. The birds fed in the field, but eventually became spooked by the deer reacting to the blinds, and began to file back into the woods about 50 yards from Bob and Kevin. It was a long shot, but Bob pulled up again, and pulled the trigger. The Tom dropped in it's tracks. Bob hadn't hunted in three years, but at 81 years old, he still had a dead eye! 

Bob and Kevin approached the turkey as it flopped. Bob claimed his bird and carried it out over his shoulder. Pictures were taken and the bird was placed in the vest to be carried back to the house. The guys were met by family in the driveway to see the bird and take more pictures. The beautiful Tom had hints of blue and teal in the feathers, light cream color tipped fan feathers, a 10 inch beard, and 3/4 inch spurs. Truly a gorgeous bird. While everyone admired the Tom, the guys recalled the story with the bird laying on the tailgate of the truck, and celebratory beers in hand. It was the return everyone had hoped for. 

Allison RauscherComment