Lotte Finally Got Her Turkey

My wife Lotte has always been a lover of the outdoors. Whether it’s fishing for bass on a farm pond or for catfish late into the night at a local lake, sitting in a treestand throughout the fall or any other excuse she can find to be outside, she’s there. But her true passion is chasing big tom turkeys in spring. She would rather do this than anything else and actually enjoys it more than I do.

Before Lotte met me, she had only been hunting for small game a few times with her father, uncle and brother. She quickly learned that if she wanted to spend much time with me she had better learn to become an outdoorswoman. Not only did she learn, but she also fell in love with it. Often, Lotte reminds me to apply for our deer and turkey permits. And she’s spent many hours on the computer searching out destinations to hunt—mostly for spring turkeys.

While we do have some turkeys in our area downstate, they’re not abundant like they are in other parts of the Midwest or in other parts of Illinois for that matter. But our first year of turkey hunting together proved eventful. On the opening morning of the second season of the Southern Zone in Illinois, Lotte got a taste of what it was like to be a turkey hunter.

Early on, Lotte was able to call in a big tom from 300 yards across a harvested cornfield. At 20 yards, Lotte shouldered her shotgun and squeezed the trigger. The mature gobbler flew away unharmed. I guess it was just a bad case of “turkey fever.” Over the next few years my wife then continued to apply for her Illinois turkey permit, but the opportunity she had had on her very first hunt never presented itself again. Sure, she saw turkeys, but she never got a shot off.

Knowing how bad she wanted a turkey, I then called Bluestem Outfitters in Missouri and arranged a turkey hunt the last three days of their season. With her Missouri turkey permit, she would then be able to shoot two turkeys on separate days (she only had three days left in the season). After driving eight hours, we finally arrived at the lodge with five hours to spare before we had to be in a ground blind. After little sleep, our alarms rang loud and we were up preparing for what we had hoped would be a successful hunt.

Lotte went one way early; I went the other. Our guide had already done the scouting and felt confident we would see birds. Lotte could hear turkeys in the distance and used her Lynch Mob Slate Call to try to entice the birds to her. She would only need one to “cooperate,” and that is exactly what happened.

I was covered in birds, some as close as 35 yards, but I was using a bow. They need to be within 25 yards for me to feel comfortable to shoot. I could only hope that Lotte was having the same luck.

About two hours into the hunt, I got a text reading: “Big Turkey Down.”

I couldn’t have been happier for my wife. She made a perfect 35-yard shot on the gobbler as he danced around a decoy spread, laying the big gobbler down in his tracks. The bird weighed 23 pounds and had an 11 1/2-inch beard.

On the second day we hunted together, but only saw a couple birds in the distance. That only left us one day to hunt before the season came to a close.

On that second day, we again went our separate ways. This time though we were only about 500 yards apart, in separate fields. As daylight was beginning to show over the horizon a shot rang out very close. About three seconds later, another shot.

The night before we had gone to separate fields to roost the birds. I was not able to roost any, but Lotte was confident she knew where two big toms were. Knowing this information, we then hurriedly set up a ground blind hoping that these birds would show themselves the following morning.

On the last morning’s hunt, Lotte never had time to get her Lynch Mob call out of her pocket. At first light, one of the gobblers flew from the roost and was headed straight toward the decoys she had in front of her. The gobbler didn’t like the decoys in his territory and put on an amazing show for Lotte as he aggressively attacked the fake birds.

When the big tom was at a distance of 25 yards, my wife pulled the trigger. She missed. Surprisingly, the bird only ran a distance of about 15 yards, and just stopped. This allowed Lotte time to pump in another shell and to fire a fatal round to it. Her second bird weighed in at 25 1/2 pounds with a beard measuring just shy of 11-inches.

Again, I received a text notifying me that a big turkey was on the ground.

In just three days of hunting here, Lotte was not only able to wrap a turkey tag around one bird but two. Sure, we will be hunting in Illinois this spring, but we’ll also be back at Bluestem Outfitters in Missouri hoping to fill more turkey tags.

The gun Lotte was using was a Mossberg 835; my father, Bud, won that gun in a raffle. Sadly, my dad was killed in an automobile accident before he was ever able to use it. As my wife put it: “Dad was in heaven doing a happy dance for her on those special days in Missouri.”