I made a huge mistake and I’m now dealing with the horrific consequences of it.
My Remington 870 Express with its nice aftermarket choke tube will sit in my safe unused, along with my box of 3-shot.
In the craziness that has followed me since the start of 2021, I completely forgot to apply for a spring turkey license and now I am at a loss.
It’s not that turkey hunting is my favorite outdoor activity. Waterfowl hunting and fishing are neck-and-neck, with deer hunting, hiking and helping in the garden close behind. In fact, I have never actually harvested a turkey and have only gone out two other times with essentially no guidance on what I was doing.
However, as someone who has been an occasional hunter all my life – pheasant one year, quail the next, the odd squirrel when I was younger – in the past few years, October to January has revolved around hunting.
Last fall I bagged a deer, a handful of rabbits and then settled into the waterfowl season, taking advantage of my father’s blind on the North Platte near Douglas. The pure enjoyment of those fall and winter days with friends and family remains at the forefront of my mind, of sitting beside my father, brother, wife or son in a little blind alongside a still river, watching the sun rise.
Since the end of the duck season in late January, I’ve often swiveled around in my office chair at home and stared longingly at the Lucky Duck electric decoy named Willard.
I have a problem.
My hope was spring turkey season could bridge the gap between the end of waterfowl and the start of fishing.
Then I forgot to set a reminder. I also forgot that, unlike the fall turkey season, there does not appear to be a way to acquire one over the counter.
I could just not mope, accept my fate and maybe start fishing earlier, squeeze in some fly fishing before the runoff.
But I am haunted by a day of hunting in the fall that included a long, arduous hike up a mountain in the Laramie Peak range with my Dad and a chance at getting my first turkey. There were some problems with the situation. It was deer season, so my shotgun was in the truck and my .30-06 on my shoulder when, while perched on a hill, my Dad heard the sound of turkeys on the other side of a long river valley.
My Dad asked if I wanted to keep glassing for deer or bust through the valley and try to sneak up on the flock on a high meadow. Fingering my turkey tag in my backpack, I said, “Let’s go.”
It was tough, it was fun and at the end it was extremely frustrating. With my Dad leading the way and then coaching me to finally close the gap, I got myself within range for my shotgun (only I had my hunting rifle) and missed. I missed twice more before realizing I had knocked the scope off its alignment.
While that frustration evaporated in the afternoon when I dropped a nice buck muley, I still want to resume that turkey chase.