Eight excited veterans gathered at the Almond Rod and Gun Club in southern Portage County, Wisconsin. They shared quality fellowship over a delicious dinner while discussing their upcoming turkey hunts with fellow veterans, mentors, and club members.
The following day before dawn, they woke to bitterly cold temperatures and strong wind with freshly fallen snow. Following an early breakfast, dressed in warm camouflage hunting clothes, the veterans and their mentors settled in their blinds, waiting patiently to call in a turkey.
Shortly after the first light of day at 6:55 am, veteran Todd and his mentor bagged a nice tom that weighed 21.1 lbs. with an 11″ beard and 3/4″ spurs.
Next to score was an Army veteran, Ann, who explained, “My mentor and I were in the blind watching for the turkeys to come out. We saw a herd of deer watching something in the woods, we could not see what they were alarmed about, but we figured it must’ve been a coyote. Then a turkey came up on the left side of the stand at about 20 yards away, and I couldn’t get a shot off because there were corn stalks in my line of sight, so I waited until the turkey made a right-hand turn to the front of the stand. My mentor had to open the window while I changed position to get a shot at the turkey. The turkey was directly in front of me now, and I had an open shot at him. At 6:55 am, I shot once, and the turkey fell right there.” The tom weighed 22 lbs. with an 8.5″ beard and 7/8″ spurs.
At 7:09 am, veteran Josh and his mentor bagged a nice mature tom that weighed 20.6 lbs, with a 10″ and 4 1/4″ beards and 1″ spurs.”
US Marine Corps veteran Steve and his stepfather waited anxiously while their mentors called in turkeys. As one was spotted, Steve said, “My stepfather took the first shoot of the morning and missed. Birds went off to the left of where we were, and then our mentors saw some turkeys go behind us. So a mentor and I went to stalk and call but had no luck. We returned to the blinds, and I suggested we stalk hunt in the direction the birds went, and they agreed. So two guides and I slipped off in that direction. Soon after, one of the mentors saw three birds, but I couldn’t see them from where I was because too much brush was in front of me. So we moved about 10 yards up, and I saw two birds moving towards us. The mentor said, “Let me know when to start calling so it will raise its head.” About a second later, I said, “Now is good,” and shot the bird around 8 am.” Steve’s bird weighed 22.1 lbs., with 10 1/8″ and 4 1/4″ beards and 3/4″ spurs.
Veteran Austin bagged a nice tom at 3:00 pm, and then the following morning around 10:00 am, with his mentors’ guidance, veteran Daniel got a nice bird, too, 22 lbs., with a 10″ beard and 1 3/16″ spurs. The veterans harvested six toms in the Club’s annual hunt.
Ann said, “The best part of the hunt for me was learning how to hunt the elusive turkey. My mentor had a positive attitude and helped me immensely to learn how turkeys act and react in the wild. Veterans who have never turkey hunted need to sign up and enjoy the beauty of the woods and the thrill of the hunt.”
Steve added, “Hunting with my stepdad for the first time was the most impactful. Hunts like this get you out of your comfort zone and meet new veterans that are suffering like you. In the meantime, you can hunt and enjoy turkey hunting.”
Congratulations to the Veterans for battling the unseasonable cold and windy weather and getting their birds. Many thanks to Almond Rod and Gun Club, mentors, volunteers, donors, and landowners for bringing quality hunts for these special veterans who sacrificed to protect our freedom! God bless!
If you want to get involved or know of a deserving youth or veteran who would like a wish granted, don’t hesitate to contact United Special Sportsman Alliance.