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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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June 25, 2019

5/18/2019 7:30:00 AM
Natural Reaction
Father and son get it done this turkey season
Jacob Friede
Of The Lakeland Times

The faint band of blue that breaks the darkness of the morning's black eastern sky, when the planet leans just enough toward the sun to allow a bit of sight, is like a conductor's baton signaling to all birds to begin to sing. In spring, about the time the sunrise reaches a shade of burning red only replicated in nature on the bright spots on a brown trout, is when turkeys take center stage with their gorgeous, guttural gobble. And when you're in the right place, with toms all around, they form a cauldron of sound, as if there's only one bird's song echoing off the trees.

Father and son duo Alan and JJ Albee of Minocqua found themselves in such a spot a few weeks ago near Fort Atkinson in Jefferson County, and JJ, 15, who was the shooter on the hunt, was impressed with his opening day prospects right away.

"We heard gobbles right behind us. We were in the right spot," he said. "There were birds nesting all around us. That was kind of cool."

It would get even cooler.

After a couple hours of calling back and forth with them, three toms walked into the Albee's decoy spread. But turkey hunting is precise, and the slightest obstacle can throw a seemingly perfect situation off.

"I never really got a shot," Albee said. "There was a branch in the way."

A turkey's eyesight is legendary and therefore there was no way for Albee to maneuver around for a shot or he would have been busted by the tom for sure.

Though disappointed after letting that first flock pass, JJ Albee's patience would pay off and he would become as fortunate as a turkey hunter can get.

"There was a hen that came in," he said. "One of the hens just stuck around calling the whole time and it called the toms right up."

That helpful hen gave Alan Albee, the caller, the rest of the day off because there is no sound like the real thing.

JJ Albee harvested one of the toms which followed the hen's call and he claimed the fifth bird of his young career.

"The tom ended up having 1 1/4 inch spurs and an 11 1/4 inch beard. This was one of the largest birds that I had ever seen," said Alan Albee, who, himself, would harvest a tom near Minocqua a week later. His bird, which ended up having an 8 1/2 inch beard and 3/4 inches spurs, gobbled from the roost at his every call, flew down at first light, and immediately walked into his decoy spread.

"I took the shot immediately," Alan Albee said. "Thereby ending the shortest turkey hunt in my life at 6 a.m."

It was a good turkey season for the Albees, but beyond their success this year, JJ said it was just cool to hunt with his dad.

"Just spending time with him, and goofing off with him," he said.

And when you take care of business as efficiently as the Albees did this year, there is plenty of time for that.

Jacob Friede may be reached at or

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