Last call

May 25, 2010

Faith Outdoors

My turkey season ended last Friday, when I made one last attempt to bag a Wisconsin gobbler. It has been a tough season in the badger state, with birds being very stubborn about coming in to calls.

I knew the hunt would be challenging, but also rewarding because I was taking my friend, John Nesheim, on his first turkey hunt. He responded to the invitation enthusiastically when I offered it to him in March, and he was pumped to go into the woods, even though I asked him to be at my house at 4 a.m.

As I figured, the birds once again were unresponsive. We got one to gobble a couple of times about 150 yards or so from us, but then the bird shut up and went on his merry way. I could have gotten out of the blind and chased him, but this hunt was not about me getting a bird. It was about spending time with my friend and enjoying the experience.

Eventually, I did venture out for a short time just to see if there were any birds moving on the property. I spooked a hen that we had seen in a field feeding, but that was it. All went quiet after about 7 a.m.

No matter. John and I had a great time anyway. John is intrigued by the sport and says he wants to do it again next year. Hopefully, I can take him out. Even though he now uses prosthetic feet, he gets around very well. We had a short walk to the blind, which he handled easily, even a few of  the bumpy spots. I marvel at how quickly he has learned to travel on artificial feet.

John ended up being the seventh person I guided this year. In what proved to be one of the toughest springs of all time for me, I was able to help one of those seven, my son, Andy, get a bird. I called birds within range for my two other sons, Joe and William, but we couldn’t seal the deal. Actually, in both cases, it was my fault.

As any veteran turkey hunter will tell you, that’s the way it goes. You can do a bunch of things right, but one mistake can cost you a bird. I have experienced this countless times, but, hopefully, those lessons learned will lead to harvested birds in the years to come.

John and I quit about 9 a.m. and headed back home, where we went out to breakfast. I was able to catch up on how he’s doing. He has worked hard on using his prosthetic feet, and it shows. He thinks he will be able to climb into a deer stand some day, maybe this fall. I have already been thinking about setting him up for the archery season. Because of a disability permit, he can hunt with a crossbow. We have two adjoining properties lined up for him, with one of the landowners even offering to put up a stand for him.

It’s looking good and I sure am excited about John’s deer hunting prospects this fall. It’s a joy to help him.

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.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek