Wild Things: Let the Wild Turkey Tales Begin

Pursuing wild turkeys in Wisconsin is a spring ritual for thousands of hunters.

Colorful toms – the largest of which can weigh 25 pounds or more with sharp, curved spurs and long, brushy beards – are strutting their stuff in hopes of attracting a harem of females so they can pass on their genetics. 

If you’ll be mentoring a youth hunter this weekend, you probably have a blind set up where you’ve seen a lot of activity. But if your tag is for one of the six, seven-day hunt periods that begin April 17 and end May 28, you’ve got time. 

Locating birds is good, but figuring out where they like to roost, feed, drink and strut is even better.

Once you choose a spot, it’s wise to sneak in early, in full camo head to toe if among the elements, or in dark clothing when hunting from a blind. 

Almost all hunters use calls. Whether it’s a mouth (diaphragm), slate, box or push-button call, the goal is the same: to sound like a hen who might be alone and ready to hook up. 

Decoys are optional, but popular. Some hunters prefer a single hen, some a jake or tom with a hen, and some an entire harem. Others use only a turkey fan (tail), staked in the ground or manipulated to attract a distant ag-field gobbler while lying prone in cover along the woodland edge. Much depends on what you’re willing to haul out to your hunting spot in the dark.

Spring Hearings

Results of advisory votes the recent Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fish and wildlife hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) county meetings – held in-person April 8 and online from noon April 10 to noon April 13 – won’t be available until next week, but we have tracked down some of the local election results for representation at WCC meetings.

Eighteen people attended the Door hearing at Sturgeon Bay High School. It was the first, in-person spring meeting since 2019. Greg Coulthurst was re-elected chairman of the Door Conservation Congress delegation, and Mike Grimm vice-chair. Tom Savage and Natalie Dorrler-Hyde were also elected as delegates. 

About 15 people attended the Kewaunee County hearing at Kewaunee High School. Brian Paplham was elected chairman and Cody Lukes vice-chair. Josh Dokey and Jacob Bertrand were also elected as delegates, with one seat vacant. 

DNR spring hearing questions, WCC questions and citizen resolutions were discussed and voted on. Results are advisory only. Learn more at

Plant Natives

Wild Ones Green Bay Chapter in DePere is holding its annual native plant sale through April 30. See what’s offered at

Closer to home, two Door County nurseries offer native wild plants and advice: Door Landscape and Nursery in Egg Harbor (, and Hoot Blossom Farm on Washington Island (

Door Landscape and Nursery has about 150 species of native plants. Many are propagated from seed, with an emphasis on Door County natives.

Hoot Blossom Farm sells native plant bare-root communities: Door County Meadow for Northern Wisconsin, Wisconsin Classic Prairie for southern Wisconsin, Wisconsin Wet Prairie for moist soils, and Wood’s Edge for shadier planting areas.

By planting natives, you can help attract and provide food for birds, insects, small mammals and other wildlife. 

Trout Tournament

The Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament runs April 18-21, with fishing allowed in Lake Michigan and Green Bay all along Door and Kewaunee counties.

Tickets are available online at, or in person at the four weigh-in locations (Baileys 57, Howie’s Tackle, Hooked Up Tackle Shop, and Yacht Works Kewaunee) and five other ticket outlets: Algoma BP, Cherryland Shell and Greystone Castle in Sturgeon Bay, Lakeshore Adventures in Baileys Harbor, and Virlee Gunworks in New Franken.

Get tourney updates at

Wild-Game Dinner

The public is invited to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rankin, about three miles west of Algoma, for a wild-game dinner at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13. 

Bring a wild-game dish, salad or dessert. Beverages are provided. There will be door prizes and guest speakers. Email fish and game pictures to [email protected] to be shared on a big screen. Reservations appreciated. Call or text 920.837.7292. 

Steelhead Egg-taking

DNR fisheries staff have handled more than 1,500 steelhead and spawned about 1,000 of them at weirs on the Root and Kewaunee rivers this spring. The Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility west of Kewaunee is open to the public and at N3884 Ransom Moore Lane.

Weekly Water Levels

Lake Michigan water levels went up 2 inches in the past month, but are still down about 4 inches from last year at this time. Levels have dropped nearly 3 feet since the record monthly high in 2020.