An apprenticeship in turkey talk reached graduation stage

Jeremy Jakiel served a four-year apprenticeship in turkey hunting with Keith Shanklin, then Jakiel showed what he learned with a tom and a big story; plus the Stray Cast.

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Jeremy Jakiel walking out with his tom, part of his story of turkey hunting.

Jeremy Jakiel walking out with his tom, part of his story of turkey hunting.


“All of a sudden I see a giant bird,” Jeremy Jakiel said. “I said, `Keith, I think it is a tom.’ I gobbled and it heard my gobble, then gobbled back and did his strut. The bird was looking for action, but he had the sense to not start running in.”

This is a turkey-hunting story, but also a mentoring one with Keith Shanklin, a neighbor of their cabin in central Wisconsin.

“The gentleman has known me since I was a baby,” said Jakiel, a union plumber from Wheeling. “He kinda looks at me like a son. He has been teaching me the ropes on turkey hunting. He has been turkey hunting for 40-50 years.

“Keith and I have this connection. The five years we went out, he’s never taken a bird. I was an apprentice as a plumber. This feels like I am going through another one.”

Graduation came May 21.

Jakiel hunted earlier on private land he had permission to in central Wisconsin without success. In the afternoon, they ended the day in a blind.

“I am calling in the blind without decoys, not expecting them to come in,” Jakiel said. “Then two hens come out and are walking toward us.”

That’s when the big bird came out, gobbling and strutting in response to his calls.

“I called him in 350 yards, took him 35 minutes,” Jakiel said.

Not a simple feat as the gobbler neared.

“A fawn came out, right away she knew we were there,” he said. “If I could have videotaped it, I could have had millions of views on YouTube.”

Then the fawn was startled.

“I had my bead on the turkey’s head,” he said. “The fawn saw Keith’s head and glasses. I’m thinking I’m going to get screwed. The deer knows, that is her living room and she knows something is odd. Maybe. But I don’t talk to animals. Luckily, she went on her merry way.”

Actually, Jakiel was talking very well to a big bird.

“We had a round of gobbling back and forth,” he said. “I was literally having a conversation with the turkey.

“When 52 yards out, Keith tapped me and said, `That is about as close as he is going to get.’ “

But, here’s the human element of hunting.

“Every time out like that I start shaking,” Jakiel said.

In deer hunting, we call it buck fever. Some hunters start shaking so bad they can’t take a shot.

But Jakiel settled himself and made a perfect shot.

“Holy cow, it was unbelievable,” he said.

Jakiel is relatively late to hunting. He was more into walleye fishing on the Wolf River with his dad John, but hunting shows caught his interest.

“To be honest, I wanted to try hunting but didn’t want to go into deer right away,” Jakiel said. “I watched the hunting shows with the decoys and thought it was cool.”

In retrospect, he said of the whole experience, “I didn’t even want to shoot the bird. It was kinda amazing the communication.”

Over the July Fourth weekend, his neighbor smoked the turkey with mesquite and used a sweet Cajun rub.

“It was unreal,” Jakiel said.

He meant the smoked turkey, but it applies to the whole experience.

Jeremy Jakiel poses with his tom, part of a good turkey story. Provided photo

Jeremy Jakiel poses with his tom, part of a good turkey story.


Wild things

Bill Savage spotted his first wild turkey Saturday on, of all places, the Cal-Sag Trail in Blue Island. It disappeared too fast for a photo. . . . In the last week, I’ve spotted several varieties of ripe wild berries in both southern and northern Illinois.

Stray Cast

Adele belting “Rolling in the Deep” sounds as beautiful as a head-shaking steelhead leaping skyward looks.

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