Skunked by Turkeys on Friday the 13th
I was lucky to have two great teachers take me on my first turkey hunt – Kelly Alexander, of Chaseburg, and Jesse Wojtkiewicz, of Rochester, Minn. They film for an outdoor TV show as a hobby and they also love taking out new hunters.
The hunting began Friday the 13th; maybe that was our first mistake. I tell myself I am not a superstitious person, but it was hard to get away from that idea after being treated poorly by those Vernon County birds. The first morning, a few things happened that almost turned me into a believer in bad luck. First, we lost the turkey call, then the tail broke off of the decoy and then a chair leg broke off inside of the blind. The broken chair leg was the most comical incident, because it caused Kelly to sink into the ground. It resulted in a graceful fall backwards into the blind. Thankfully, Kelly was prepared. He had a backup call, and no damage was done to the blind.
Hearing the turkeys gobbling in the morning got my heart pumping and excited for a show. For some reason, after they would fly down from the roost they would shut up. We hunted hard for three days, but couldn't get the turkeys to respond to our call. We tried everything from sitting in a blind to belly crawling to sneak up on them. It could have been the weather, or maybe it was too late in the season. Being a new hunter, I felt that I held plenty still, but my guides said I have to work on that a bit.
Kelly held back a secret until I was ready to go home on the third day – he had a close call with a skunk on the first morning. He didn't want to add another element to our streak of being "skunked," so he didn't mention it up front. Kelly had to cover his face because he thought he was going to get sprayed for sure.
Vernon County is full of streams, green hills, farmland and rich forests. My home area is much flatter, so I was struck with the beautiful scenery. Vernon County is part of the Driftless Area, which is why it is so rolling and rugged. About 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers passed over, Vernon County was untouched. This is what allowed the rough terrain to remain. I could not believe the number of deer we saw. The deer were a gorgeous red color and looked healthier than ever.
I was struck by another irony: when I went deer hunting last fall, I saw turkeys. When I went turkey hunting this spring, I saw deer. We found plenty of morels and I made two new pals, so I will still call my trip a success. Not getting a bird was much more difficult on my new friends than it was on me. They felt terrible that I was never able to get a shot at a turkey. Kelly and Jesse truly have their heart and soul into teaching new people how to hunt. The lessons I learned were invaluable. I would rather have that than a turkey any day. Look out turkeys, we shall meet again. Only next time, I shall be a little more astute.