The Turkey Hunter’s Bag Of Tricks

I don’t figure I’m much different than most turkey hunters.   Part of my enjoyment with the sport is experimenting with various calls…and for that reason I just happen to have a hunting vest full of the curious little devices.   But have you ever tried to explain to someone — particularly a spouse — what all the calls are used for and why they are really necessary for hunting?   Me neither, well…not until earlier today.   Just one word of advice…DON’T!

As I sat on the livingroom floor I sprawled out my entire collection of calls reliving the memories of mornings gone by.   Of course, I was rejoicing in the sweet success of why certain calls have worked in the past…as well as contemplating a plausible explanation why others just haven’t lived up to their expectations.   With nearly every call I pulled from my vest I could associate some sort of memory with the device — whether it was good or bad.

Then, along came my wife who sat down in the chair next to me.   Now for those of you who are not aware of this…we’ve only been married for about a year.   During this time she has endured many of my sportsman-related idiosyncrasies…but turkey hunting is a new one for her.   In her attempt to understand what I was doing…she asked me about the calls.

Initially I cringed thinking her only motivation for asking was an attempt to prove that I have way too much gear for my hunting exploits.   Realistically, for me trying to explain the subtle benefits of each turkey call would be akin for her trying to explain to me why each bottle of makeup in her cosmetic bag is really essential.   Perhaps some topics are best left unexplored between the genders…but I guess our young marriage hasn’t quite understood that principle yet.

She pointed to the two Tupperware cases and asked what’s in there?   Those are my Cody friction calls, I responded.   The one is a natural slate and the other is glass.   I keep them in these handy Tupperware containers to keep any moisture out from ruining them.   I went on to explain that these calls were my pride and joy as they are very expensive calls that have aided me in bagging more than one bird over the years.   That’s nice…she responded.   But the look on her face told me she was more intrigued and probably silently contemplating how she could somehow add those Tupperware containers to her growing collections of kitchen food storage gadgets.   I quickly put them away to get them out of her sight.

She then asked me about the long boxes laying on the floor.   No wait! she told me.   I better go grab a beer before I hear this explanation.   Upon her return I proceeded to explain to her that this one was my Lynch’s World Champion box call.   I struck the chalked paddle a few times and she told me STOP THAT!   It hurts my ears, she exclaimed!   Honey, you just heard what a raspy old hen would be telling a big old gobbler in an attempt to seduce him.   She wasn’t buying it…the high-pitched sounds to her ears were nothing but pure irritating noise.   So I then picked up my boat paddle…and began serenading her with some sweet sounds from this specialty call.   Again, my wife wasn’t impressed and told me that’s enough.

I proceeded to one by one methodically go through my entire collection of calls both attempting to explain the benefits as well as producing the lovely sounds.   I shook my gobble shaker to imitate the sounds of a big ol’ excited tom turkey.   Her response was…why would you use that one?   Are you hunting gay turkeys?   No, you just don’t understand, dear.   During turkey season a male turkey gets so horned up with sexual energies that they will give away their location simply by hearing a loud sound, such as another turkey gobble.   It’s a locator call mostly used (for safety’s sake) in the evenings when you are “putting the turkeys to bed (roost).”

Huh?   What in the world would you put a turkey to bed for, she questioned?   Because in the next morning you want to put yourself in a position where turkeys are known to be.   No sense getting up early and going to all the trouble of trying to hunt them if there are no turkeys even in the woods.   Okay, whatever…she mumbled.

As I proceeded to practice my various diaphragm calls, my owl hooter, my crow call, my pheasant call, and others she eventually got up from her chair ready to walk away…but not before asking me…when do you go turkey hunting again?   In just 6 1/2 weeks, sweetie…just 6 1/2 more weeks.

I think it was at that point in time we finally agreed on one thing…that spring turkey hunting season can’t arrive soon enough for both of our sakes.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.


Injured Deer Gets Ride From Good Samaritan

Here’s the deal…let’s assume you are driving home early some morning…oh, about 3am or so, and suddenly out of nowhere a deer bolts in front of your vehicle and you hit it.   Damn!   For most of us our first concern is likely the extent of damage done done to the vehicle.   Of course, as compassionate adults, if the deer is still alive you most certainly will have some concern for the critter who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, at least as far as you are concerned.

But that’s not what happened a few days ago near Foley, Minnesota.   No, instead April Weiser hit a deer with her car and that’s when the compassionate nature of this veterinary technician took over.   Rather than let the animal die in the ditch, she hoisted its 90–pound body into the back seat of her auto and sped off for help.   She drove 80 miles with a roommate, Tara Miller, to the Twin Cities to take the injured deer to the Wildlife Rehababilitation Center in Roseville.   Even though the report did not state for certain, it appears likely that by now the extent of the deer’s injuries would require the deer to be euthanized.

Okay, before we go on with this story let’s examine it from a sportsman’s perspective.   In Minnesota, as well as in many other states I suspect, it is illegal to terminate the life of an injured deer unless you are licensed and it is during deer hunting season.   That means that if you hit a deer with your truck and it is still in the ditch kicking…you had best call for a law enforcement officer to handle the matter.   Even if you have the capability to end the deer’s life and suffering…you could be ticketed for taking such action.   In fact, it is my understanding that more than likely if a conservation officer gets involved you will be ticketed if those actions were taken without law enforcement involvement.

Of course, Ms Weiser wasn’t looking to do the logical thing…instead, her do-good mentality kicked in and she acted in the “compassionate” way.   She was labeled by the wildlife officer as a “good Samaritan” despite the fact her response actually broke Minnesota law.

‘Technically, the women broke the law by transporting a wild animal without permission of the Department of Natural Resources or other law enforcement.

But neither Weiser nor Miller knew that, and nobody told them otherwise.

A DNR officer said Thursday the women won’t be charged.

“They are good Samaritans, they did a good thing,” said Major Jeff Thielen of the DNR. “But it’s illegal to move ’em. And it’s better to leave ’em. It’s just probably safer and better.”

Hmm…   Now I find this quite interesting.   What these ladies did was clearly a violation of Minnesota law…yet, because they were “good Samaritans” no charges will be filed.   And why?   Because NOBODY TOLD THEM OTHERWISE.   They were ignorant of the law that required them NOT to transport wildlife without permission.   They did a good and thing…went to extremes in doing what they thought was right…so we [DNR] will look the other way this time and publicize it so everybody learns from their mistaken judgment.

Quite frankly I’m troubled by this story on many levels.   First is the fact that the Minnesota DNR won’t charge these ladies for their actions.   Sportsmen have been told repeatedly that we must be thoroughly familiar with the law because ignorance is no excuse.   So, is the DNR holding a hunting licensed-carrying sportsman to a higher standard than an naive person motivated merely by good intentions?   Furthermore, what makes her actions of doing what she thinks is best any different than if a sportsman pulled a gun out of the trunk and quickly ended the deer’s misery?   Both actions are clearly wrong and a violation of law…but I suspect that the DNR would handle the two scenarios much differently.

I’m disappointed with officials with the Minnesota DNR for making any distinctions in their interpretation.   Quite honestly, a wildlife officer is expected to uphold the law (or the administrative rule) the very way it appears on the books.   The legislature makes the laws…law enforcement carries out the enforcement activities of those laws…and the courts make any interpretations of whether it is appropriate or not.   When wildlife officers start making actions that can cause the public to question the fairness in which they carry out their responsibilities…then I believe they are venturing down a very slippery slope, so to speak.

On a different level, perhaps a better example would have been made if charges were filed for the violation.   Let’s face it, the ridiculousness of having an injured deer in the back seat of a car traveling down the highway is totally insane.   What if that deer suddenly had a burst of energy and went berserk thrashing around while these ladies were traveling down the highway to the Twin Cities?   It certainly could have happened…and those actions then could have jeopardized lives beyond the deer’s alone if an accident would have resulted.

When people violate the law…irrespective of whether their intentions were good or bad…they need to answer to their actions if they were not appropriate.   The Minnesota DNR has now set precedent by forgiving the stunt of a pair of do-gooders who were merely ignorant of the law.   In the process, they have also all but proven to us sportsmen that if we went to such extremes involved with a similar scenario…the same blind eye would likely not be turned.   Personally, I’m disappointed because I would have expected better decisions from this agency.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

The Kirby Puckett Not Everybody Knew

It’s been a tough few days for sports fans in the Upper Midwest…particularly for those who closely follow the game of baseball.   No doubt about, news Monday about the death of Kirby Puckett, formerly of the Minnesota Twins, sent shock waves throughout the sporting world.   Kirby was one of those cherished few sports players who seemed to have a genuine passion for life…and let’s not forget those passions extended beyond the baseball diamond.

Indeed, Kirby was one of us…a sportsman who had an affinity to his bass fishing.   Introduced to the wonderful world of fishing by former teammate, Kent Hrbek, Kirby quickly developed fishing as a favored pastime during the off-season and in his retirement years.   To learn more about Kirby’s fishing exploits, read this article written just prior to his induction into The Baseball Hall of Fame.

Often we have a difficult time connecting our lives with the big sports heroes of life, but when you stop to thing about it many of these folks relax and enjoy the same outdoor activities we do.

So in the days ahead when you hear all the wonderful things about “Puck’s” life as a baseball player…don’t forget to celebrate the fact that he was also an avid fisherman who has made his last cast.   Somewhere out there is a fishing buddy who now must find a new partner the next time he hits the lake…and that truly is a sad realization whenever a sportsman passes on.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.