Friday, April 22, 2011

Skunked twice in one day of spring turkey hunting

After five days of Ohio’s spring wild turkey-hunting season I’ve been skunked but in more ways than one.

It’s been that sort of a season so far.

“Oh, Berry, noooo,” I said as the shrill words rumbled through the house’s interior.

That interior had been corrupted by what had just transpired outside of the house. Yet even closed windows could not completely shut out the molecules of skunk oil that wafted off Berry, my Labrador retriever.

Taking care of a skunk spray-hit dog is not a thing one wants to do at 4:30 a.m. Especially if in 30 minutes the intent was to saddle up and head east for another go at bagging a wild turkey.

However, that’s what both Bev, my wife, and I undertook, grabbing shards of ripped cleaning rags and soaking them in skunk odor-removal juice. This fluid was then liberally applied to Berry’s face, muzzle, neck, legs, body - anywhere and everywhere.

From experience Bev and I have learned to keep a bottle of some type of skunk odor-removal product in the hall closest.

Every dog we’ve ever owned has found a backyard visiting skunk too much of a temptation. The little black-and-white critters looked so cute, each of the dogs seemed to say after exposure.

Poor Berry hasn’t learned her lesson. This was her second encounter.
So we did our doctoring, knowing full well we’d never get it all and will have to let time runs its course.

Speaking of time, I glanced at my watch and noticed that we would need to hustle if we were to be in the woods a spell before the legal start of the day’s hunting.

So we left the house and with it the aerosol effect of skunk oil that had begun to cling to every piece of fabric and dog hair it could find.

After Bev and I had reached our destination, anchored three turkey decoys and settled into the hunting blind, we were now at legal shooting time plus 5 minutes.

Not that being late mattered. The two gobblers that only two nights earlier had roosted in the trees just 150 yards away were nowhere to be heard much less seen.

At least we were reasonably comfortable, nestled in the blind, though I could detect a whiff or two of skunk odor that had found its way onto our hunting garments.

“It’s good cover scent,” Bev said.

But turkeys don’t care about scent, I reminded her.

What turkeys do express interest in are things like realistic decoys and sweet soundings notes played from a call of some kind. I had both and I used the weapons as best as I thought possible. Even so, once again I shot blanks.

The woodlot was silent of turkey talk, save for what I made with the several calls I had laid out.

What we did hear was an abundance of woodpeckers as they used their bills to jackhammer holes into trees.

As for sightings, we caught the temporary interest of a passing red fox. The animal stopped on a downed log, looked at the decoys and then continued on a trot to wherever it is that red foxes go in the early a.m.

The wind freshened as we sat and waited and clocked watched. The minutes only sauntered by, the slowness owing to the lack of turkey activity.

In three partial mornings of the opening week I had heard only one gobbler. And now I can add seeing just one hen.

Poking Bev and hissing low, I nodded toward the distance, pretty much along the same trace the red fox had taken an hour earlier.

Bev caught sight of the hen turkey, the bird slinking as much as a hen turkey can slink while paying absolutely no attention to either the decoys or my calling.

“I bet she’s done eating or breeding and is on her way to a nest,” I said, trying to impress Bev with my woodsmanship skills.

That was the last of the activity in so far as anything interesting happening.

After three hours of blind sitting (which beats stump sitting by a long country mile) we stowed the decoys in the blind, policed the area and made our way back along the tractor trail to our vehicle.

“I still had a good time,” Bev said, aware of how rare it is for her to be able to turkey hunt on a weekday.

Perhaps, but I’ll tell you this: I sure do hate being skunked twice in the same day.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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