A bird for Bob

May 26, 2009

Faith Outdoors

My father-in-law, Bob Guditis, came from his home in Great Falls, Mont. to Minnesota last week to visit his daughters who live here. When he first told me about his trip a couple of months ago, I suggested he buy a Wisconsin turkey license so he could hunt while he was here.

He gladly agreed and bought the tag online. The good news was, he was able to free up some time for turkey hunting. The bad news was, he didn’t have much time to spend in the woods — Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and that was it. Anyone who hunts turkeys long enough knows it can often take several days to pattern birds and get one to come in close enough for a shot.
We wouldn’t have that luxury. Not only that, he has limited mobility, so I would have to pick out a good spot and hope a bird would come in.
I chose a small farm that we hadn’t hunted yet this year and, to the best of my knowledge, neither had anyone else. So, that was a plus. I chose a spot along the edge of an alfalfa field Thursday afternoon and we waited until almost sundown for a bird to show. No birds came. We heard a hen yelping back in the woods and that was it.
But, we did see two nice whitetail bucks walk out into the field. Already, they had started some decent antler growth, which got Bob and I to thinking how fun it would be to come back in the fall.
We repositioned the blind before we left and hoped and prayed there would be some action Friday morning. We crawled into the blind at about 5:10 the next morning and waited for the turkeys to gobble on the roost. We heard one that was pretty far off, then another one that seemed closer. I felt it was close enough to hear my calling, so I shot out a few hen yelps.
The bird didn’t answer, but I didn’t lose hope. Sometimes, for reasons I may never understand, toms will come in to your calls without gobbling first. So, I held fast to my belief that a bird might appear.
About a half hour later, that’s exactly what happened. A yearling tom, called a jake, came walking out into the freshly planted crop field adjacent to the alfalfa field where we were set up. He was about 100 yards away at that point and didn’t appear interested in our decoys. So, I did some calling to try and change his mood.
It worked. He turned and came walking toward us and our decoys. I figured he might stop when he got to the edge of the alfalfa, which was about 50 yards away. That’s what he did, but then he kept on coming. When I thought he was about 40 yards away, I asked Bob how far the bird was from us. He said he thought it was 36 yards, so I told him to go ahead and shoot. He dropped the bird and we went out and paced the distance from the blind to the bird — 37 yards.
Bob is a civil engineer and he’s very good at judging distances. After snapping a few photos of his bird, I offered an invitation to come over for dinner on Sunday afternoon with his wife, Sharon. I said I would prepare his turkey using one of my top recipes — wild turkey/wild rice casserole. He agreed and we had a wonderful dinner that day.
I don’t think a lot of people know how delicious wild turkey can be. Older birds can be tough, but cooking them in a crock pot works for any kind of bird you have. The wild turkey/wild rice casserole never fails to be good and I never worry about the turkey being tough. One key thing is to use only the breast meat. The leg and thigh meat is tougher and might not work as well in the casserole. However, you can make soup stock from it, which a couple of my friends do. I was able to donate turkey legs to them.
All in all, it was a great spring for turkey hunting this year. I just read that Minnesota set another harvest record this year and it looks like the turkey population is in great shape. I tip my hat to the DNR in both Minnesota and Wisconsin for the great work they do in managing their respective flocks. Hunters like me have benefited greatly from their efforts. Can’t wait to get out in the woods again next year!
Next, I go to Lake of the Woods for a fishing trip this week. I’ve heard the fishing has been great up there so far and am hoping it will continue this week. The weather is supposed to be nice, so that will be a plus. Stay tuned for a fishing report!
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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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