The Toms Are Strutting as Wisconsin Season Begins

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The Shadows on the Wolf Clintonville Chapter and the United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) sponsored their 19th annual group turkey hunt in Wittenberg, WI. The event occurred from April 5th to 7th, 2024, and sixteen young hunters aged between 9 and 16 from four states participated.

On the first day, the young hunters participated in an indoor training session followed by a sight-in clinic. The next day, before dawn, the children, parents, and mentors went to their hunting blinds on private properties in Shawano and Waupaca counties. The weather was calm, with temperatures in the low thirties. Guided by their mentors, the children eagerly awaited their first chance to hunt an elusive gobbler.

Nine-year-old Gabi and her father, John, watched their mentor, Spencer Strebe, call in turkeys to the decoys as the sun rose into a clear blue sky. “It was the kind of morning turkey hunters dream about,” Spencer exclaimed. It was amazing to have three Toms approach the decoys within fifteen yards and successfully shoot one of them with a crossbow. The looks on Gabi’s, John’s, and my faces after she bagged her turkey were priceless. Everyone was having a great time snapping photos and creating lifelong memories.” Gabi’s accomplishment of bagging a turkey weighing 20 lbs. with an 8 3/4-inch bushy beard and 1-inch spurs was a testament to her skill and determination.

Livi, a 14-year-old, and her father and mentor, Kevin Vollmer, also bagged a nice turkey early that morning. Livi spotted the turkey first, and with Kevin’s guidance, it approached within close shooting range of the blind. Her successful hunt was quick, and she bagged the bird by quarter after seven. Livi’s turkey weighed 23.5 lbs., with a 10″ beard and 7/8″ spurs.

11-year-old Brenna enjoyed learning about turkey hunting and practiced calling in turkeys with her mentor, Tony Schwegel. Her heart raced as the turkeys approached their hunting blind. The closer the birds got, the more excited Brenna became. Finally, with the assistance of her mentor and grandpa, she successfully bagged a nice turkey weighing 16.8 lbs. with a 2″ beard.

Allayah and Anthony, both fourteen, accompanied by their skilled mentors and parents, also bagged a nice turkey that morning. Their smiles were uplifting and infectious when they returned with their birds to show everyone.

Later that afternoon, Emma, who is 15, got her turkey with her father, Justin, and her mentor, Rory Clark. Emma said the most exciting part was shooting her turkey, spending time with her dad, and seeing Rory’s excitement after she shot her turkey. It weighed 23.5 pounds and had a 9-inch beard with 1-inch spurs.
That afternoon, Dawson, David, Lauren, Hayden, and Bryonna, aged 9-14, also got a nice turkey with their parents, assisted by their experienced mentors. Their excitement was palpable as they proudly showed off their gobblers to everyone waiting back at camp.

Gracie, who is 16, traveled with her father, Chris, from Tennessee to participate in her hunt, which Mason Arnold guided. Chris said that on Sunday morning at 6:28 am, my daughter Gracie got her first turkey. Her bird weighed around 20lbs. 9 1/4-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs. Gracie said, “I enjoyed meeting new people and spending time in the blind together.”

On Sunday morning, the brothers, Tyson, 11, and Dylan, 13, harvested a nice turkey each with their mentors, bringing the total number of turkeys to 14.

Livi’s father, Mike, was thoroughly impressed with the entire event and had a great experience. Mike Tuss and his team were exceptional, making the event even more memorable by interacting with the kids and hunting with them. In Mike’s opinion, the birds were of secondary importance.

According to Mike Tuss, only a 12-hour time frame is available for weekend turkey hunting. He also mentioned that achieving an 87% success rate within such a short period is impressive. To put that into perspective, Wisconsin has a 2-day youth hunt and six seasons that last seven days each, totaling 44 days. The harvest rate is approximately 25%.

Mike Tuss added, “Our Mentors do an outstanding job with first-time hunters. What was enjoyable to see was the parents, who were also veterans that had never met until the hunt, bonded with each other. It’s not all about the hunt but time for everyone to meet a new friend and share and create stories with each other. Everybody becomes a little more seasoned in their life. We were all blessed to be a part of this event.”

Many thanks to Shadows on the Wolf and their coordinators, Mike Tuss, Dave and Brenda Strebe, Tom Mijal, and their volunteer staff for their hard work and dedication in making this memorable hunt possible.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the dedicated mentors, gracious landowners, and generous financial sponsors who made these rewarding hunts possible. We genuinely appreciate your support and commitment to USSA’s mission. Congratulations to all the kids who participated in their first turkey hunt! God bless!

If you are interested in getting involved or know of a deserving child or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].