Tag Archives: Turkey

Jenn’s First Bird

Crossposted from Grow the Hunt

October 12, 2010

Jenn’s First Bird

– By Brandon Wikman

Hunting turkey can be a pursuit of unpredictable obstacles that weave themselves into a broken basket that can only carry air. Big birds are notorious for pecking your intelligence into the ground. Often times, they seem to make me want to pluck my hair follicles out! This week I strutted out of the woods slightly smarter and much more successful.

This past weekend meant the world to me. I wanted to serve my dear friend Jenn a hen dinner served on a silver platter. My focus was purely on my forest’s feathered friend, turkey.  A peculiar critter that eludes even the most tactful hunter in the woods, these birds live and die by their keen eyesight. It’s as if turkey sport a pair of Nikon’s on their goofy faces, not to mention their uncanny ability to survive in a wilderness seemingly fit for only the most dominant bush creatures.

I had one day to put my best efforts into scouting and zeroing-in on a bird for Jenn. I began my woodland excursion in the morning while trekking farm fields for any visual evidence of footprints, scat or feathers. During my big search I happened to stumble across an alfalfa field that graciously held a handful of feathers. As I collected field feathers and began to part the lush greens in search for prints, I was convinced that this was a gobbling good spot.

Instantaneously, the blind was erected. Turkey aren’t as tent-blind savvy as whitetail, but I still brushed-up the blind to ease any doubts. My handsaw was put to action. Woodchips flew like sparks as the saw’s teeth shredded through the lumber. Pine boughs were thrown into a heaping pile that would soon be decorating my blind. Pine trees are incredible for throwing down a covert strategy that will make you invisible; the limbs are dressed with so many finger-like needles that vanish your outline in a matter of seconds. My blind looked like a pine hut that came directly from the early era of caveman. My ancient cavern would soon be put to the ultimate turkey test once Jenn arrived to hunt tomorrow.

IMG_5037 The next morning was show time. All I had to do was hope that the flock of birds wouldn’t forget their travel route, which bypassed the blind at a mere 10-yards. Jenn and I shuffled to the blind at first-light. As she jacked ammo into the shotgun I crossed my fingers and wished for Jenn to blast her very first bird.

The sun cast a balance of warmth on the blossoming fall forage while the fog faded, and flocks of geese darted into the horizon from bowling balls to bb’s. This Mother Earth moment was instantly carved into my memory and cleansed my soul. It was nature at its very best. We sat, watched and waited.

Suddenly, my eyes grabbed a flashy bolt of black. Both Jenn and I squinted out of the window and spotted the flock scratching their way from the woods into the field. Beams of sunrays accented the feathers as I gawked at my plan working to perfection. Jenn snuggled the gun into her shoulder as I continued to throw a one man show circus in my imagination. One-by-one the birds entered the field. Jenn selected the closest turkey and without much guidance provided her own opportunity to shoot. The faint click of the safety was followed by the booming blast of her gun. There were birds and feathers scattered everywhere! It was as if the sun had been abruptly blocked and floating feathers and darting birds choked all light. All the while, I turned to look at the smile on Jenn’s face and it lit the world back up.

IMG_5516-ADJ As the commotion of wing beats and puttering bird noises ceased, I turned my attention to a beautiful bird lying on the ground. The elation of joy was hard to beat for the experience of a surefire plan, which is difficult to come by. I counted my blessings that morning and shared my love and passion with someone I deeply care for.

My Most Memorable Hunt Thus Far (Part 2)

Crossposted from My Most Memorable Hunt Thus Far – Part 2 at Grow the Hunt

– By Brandon Wikman

This was my first introduction to the sacred place the northerners call “Upper Michigan” a.k.a. (Yooper Country). Jenn and I were still dumbfounded with the spur of our sour luck until we rolled into the palace of Maple Ridge Outfitter.

Memorable 2.1Mr. Gary Scarborough pulled into the driveway as both Jenn and I gawked at his beautiful wilderness creation. Our spirits were lifted to the roost as we entered the walkway to my dream cabin that appeared to be torn off the back of a rustic home magazine. At the porch, Gary introduced us to his son and chief guide, Sam. He was a character. Sam’s the type of person that you’d fall in love with at sight; a “bromance” if you will. His quirky ways and hilarious attitude boosted the atmosphere and made us feel humored beyond belief! The smiles were served, ice was broken, and now it was time to settle in.

As I opened the door, a blessed aroma of firewood filled my nostrils while my squinty eyes finally opened to something that simply amazed me. Gary decorated his hunting cabin with the only fitting décor, animals. He showcased giant moose, wicked caribou, and monstrous whitetail that were taken off properties only miles away. He even had a blown-up gobbler, which stood in strut casting dominance across the room. Great people, incredible accommodations, and the anticipation for Jenn’s first turkey soon charmed my dreadful evening.

After my awe-struck hour, it was time to get to business. The evening was swift. I dumped my bag of assortments on the floor and began picking through it like a vulture. My camouflage outerwear, clunky boots, and magical bag of Keystone turkey calls. I also yanked out the most important accessory, the video camera. These were my weapons to defeat the savvy “Yooper bird.” While I unpacked, Jenn did otherwise.

Jenn failed like a 3-year old eating spaghetti . She was working in ‘sleep town’ sawing logs as I sat down with Gary and Sam to go over the turkey agenda. These boys knocked the heads off some birds. We flipped through the trophy album blissfully grinning at photo after photo. There were a tremendous amount of successful hunts from only weeks ago. Now it was our time; the last week to hunt birds in Michigan, but the weather turning pale. The Weather Channel showcased a slow moving cold front engulf the northern part of Wisconsin and en route to the U.P. As fate would have it, we woke up to a gloomy morning. The temperature dropped significantly and a cold air mass system loomed over the roost trees. This was not what I had hoped for. This time the meteorologists were correct.

Memorable 2.2Jenn and I grabbed our goods and vanished with Sam into the dark. I threw on an extra layer of clothing, as did everyone, and ventured into the forest. The hunt began to feel like a November whitetail chase as temperatures plummeted. Silence grew as we nestled into shrubbery and cloaked our gear into nature. As mounds of dark clouds piled above the pines, bursts of sunlight were choked. The woods were silent. This was no weather to strike a chorus of gobbles. Hopes of killing a bird off the roost was soon washed away by droplets of rain. Before I could even begin to start pouting, the droplets turned into boulders and it was go time!

Over the next few days we watched as miserable weather damped the hopes of enchanting Jenn with a strutter. As I peered out the window hopelessly stressed, streaks of rain oozed down the glass likes tears. Although, this was no time to frown or drown emotions thanks to Mother Nature.

Gary and Sam entertained every beaten feeling of distress in us. Lavish homemade meals, several nail biting games of pool, and a toasty day nestled in the cabin relaxing and enjoying one’s company. This was what camaraderie and good people were all about.

Needless to say, Jenn wasn’t able to pull the trigger on a soggy feathered bird. In fact, after the first day of breaking down on the highway, getting towed, running late, and watching the weather burst our hopes of birds… I really didn’t care. The face of an enlightened girl enjoying every minute filled my soul with accomplishment. I ventured out of the holy land of “Yoopers” with new friends, a memorable experience, and another shot at wrangling Jenn her first turkey.

My Most Memorable Hunt So Far (Part 1)

My Most Memorable Hunt Thus Far at Grow the Hunt

– By Brandon Wikman

Last week I made one of my most memorable hunting excursions of my life. Some of you would interpret that I lost my way into the wilderness of Alaska. Others would come to believe I hopped a flight to New Zealand to hunt the incredible red stag. Or maybe others would guess that I took a week to desolate myself into the wilderness of Yukon country in search for gigantic Bull Moose. I’d say simply this… you’re way off.

Memorable 1.1My 4-hour trip to the upper peninsula of Michigan, hunting a waddling feathered critter called a turkey, has left an everlasting memory with me. I was graced by the charm of a special someone, named Jenn Geissler, who is a recent Hunter’s Safety graduate. Although most people would think she’s a ripe 12-years old, which is the age most participants are, Jenn’s graduation day came much later in life. At 21-years old, she is a fresh face in the outdoor world that’s particularly savvy when it comes to the sport of hunting.

My ultimate mission was to film Jenn’s first turkey hunt on video, but also and much more importantly, share an enriching experience with her that’d bind two souls from the vines of nature. The location of choice was in Stephenson, Michigan, with Maple Ridge Outfitters (MapleRidgeOutfitter.com). Maple Ridge is an enchanting slice of heaven plopped down in the beautiful green meadows of Michigan. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. It’s a combination of great lodging, incredible meals, and unforgettable people. We left Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in the late afternoon with big dreams and an escalating sense of anticipation. Our drive went quite well. In fact, things were going far too well. That is, until all hell broke loose.

With no more than an easy 45-minute pavement-to-cabin arrival, my truck began to sound off like a pack of wild boars. My rpm-gauge soared into next week, transmission practically disappeared, and the rumble of destruction echoed. Both of our faces looked at each other in shock. Needless to say, we both had to laugh as I reached for my cell-phone to call AAA. There are many times throughout life when accidents happen. Several of the misfortunate occasions are completely out of our control. I always take it as a bummer spill of luck and always find the slightest humor from the situation.

An hour passed. I found myself gazing at my worthless truck being yanked onto a flatbed. I was also reluctant to be heaving a forty-pound driveshaft into the back bed of my truck. It was apparent that the demise of my truck suffered from old u-joints.

Memorable 1.2Jenn and I rode ‘shotty’ with a delightfully nice old man who talked with us about hunting. He lightened up the mood and shed light on a totally new atmosphere. We were not only rescued by his tow-truck, but also his saving grace. With my truck towed to the nearest city for repair, I called Gary for a pickup. I figured hitchhiking in the Northwood’s wouldn’t be the wisest idea of mine…

He was more than happy to be our transportation and checker-flag-finish our grueling journey from one state to the next. We arrived in paradise at nearly midnight. The torturous escapade from Wisconsin to Michigan was finally over. Now it was time for us to get unpacked, settle down, and get Jenn’s eye on a boisterous redheaded bird!

To be continued…