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A successful hunt

June 9, 2013
Cole Anderson - Grundy County Conservation Naturalist/Technician , Reinbeck Courier

I have hunted ever since I was a kid. I hunt everything from big whitetail bucks to little grey mushrooms, and I have had great success in hunting a variety of different animals. One in particular is the wild turkey. From the very first time I started hunting them I could do no wrong. Whatever I did they always seemed to fall in my lap. In fact I may have even gotten a little cocky about it, which was probably the cause for my inevitable downfall. Like all streaks do, my long streak of killing turkeys came to a very abrupt halt. The first year without shooting one I called a fluke and brushed it off. The second year without shooting one I began to get extremely frustrated and rethought everything I knew about turkey hunting. And finally after the third year I went into depression. There was no excitement when I walked in the woods anymore because I knew that no matter how hard I tried something would screw it up like it had time and time again over the past three years. This year, I prayed that there was a rope long enough to pull me from the deep rut in which I was struggling.

It was three days before second season turkey this year and the weather was not exactly shaping up the way I planned. Cold and rain had me yet doubting whether I would have a shot at a bird again this year. Opening day showed a ray of hope with a cool but dry and sunny forecast. I decided to try a spot where I used to hunt with my dad years ago that I hadn't tried in a while. My buddy Brandon dropped me off and I made my way to the woods. The turkeys were gobbling like crazy already and it was still very early. I made my way towards them in the dark crossing a large oak tree that lay across a trout stream. I had taken no more than ten steps off the log when I heard the sound that every turkey hunter dreads.. PUT! I had been spotted by a hen on the roost. I immediately sat down and tried calming her down with some soft yelps. Luckily the gobblers didn't see me and my calling had them going crazy. Soon I heard them fly down and two Toms came on a dead run for me. I shot the first one that showed his face and had my bird five minutes after shooting hours opened. FINALLY MY SLUMP HAD ENDED! I hit my knees and thanked God for such an awesome hunt. I got up and realized that having been dropped off and shooting a bird so early, meant that I had about a mile walk down a trout stream to get back to the campground. So I took a leisurely walk back stopping at an old fire ring made of stone in the bottom of a valley where we used to camp when I first started turkey hunting. As I sat there reminiscing I watched two wood ducks flying by whistling loudly to make their presence known. As I moved even further downstream I saw two bald eagles circling high above me just as the sun was topping the last of the tallest trees. Eventually I made it back to camp, started a fire and enjoyed every second of it.

Not getting a turkey for three years had left me blind to everything else the woods has to offer. I couldn't remember the last time I actually sat and enjoyed all the spring wildlife busting out of their long winter chill. Or simply acknowledging the fact that I was out in the woods on a beautiful spring morning and not home laying on my couch. I was so obsessed with successfully bagging a turkey that I forgot what a successful hunt was all about. You're not going to shoot a giant buck or a big turkey every time you go out. My dad always says "that's why they call it hunting, not killing" and he couldn't be more right. Looking back, I've had several successful hunts over the years I was just too blind to see it. That's a mistake I don't plan on making again.



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