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Blog Post

Skunked

The hunting season started out with a bang.



 

The hunting season started out with a bang.  A nice 350 to 400 pound black bear, then a camera safari to Kenya and Tanzania, followed by an Elk trip to Colorado.  Then came some excellent duck and goose shooting.  Then the Nebraska limit of two turkeys was filled within two weeks.  How could it get much better?

Well it did not.  With an Iowa turkey tag to fill, a quick check in with the landowner down by the Missouri River was not positive.  He reported that there was little traffic in the area that had been hunted for the last 5 years.  The turkeys were on the west side of the levee and close to the river per one of his deer hunters.  He also indicated that the smell of rotting dead deer was strong in some areas due to the virus infection hitting the deer this summer and early fall.

Still, patterns were etched in my mind and the first of two trips was made to my favorite woods and pasture.  Starting around 8 AM, and hunting till 11 AM.  The second journey started at 3 PM and lasted till sundown.

The landowner suggested that a hunter should set up along the electric fence line around the pasture.  The few he had seen seem to come out late morning to late afternoon and stayed in the easterly side of the pasture close to the dense woods.

Hiding in the the hanging branches was the first location.

With that in mind, I stayed in the pasture on the north east side and set up in some standing or fallen timber.  The only turkey sign found was a pile of feathers where it was assumed that some hungry critter had a meal, but did not like the taste of feathers.  The weather was warm and no wind.  This made for a really pleasant experience.  Who cares about the wind.  Turkeys do not wind you anyways, but they do have extremely sharp vision and can see long distances.  The key is to remain as still as possible.  Usually I carry a lightweight folding chair and push back into dead or standing timber.  Plus I wear a leaf suit which covers my entire body.  I have had turkeys in dense timber walk right by me.  As long as there was no movement, they did not know a person was there.  Changing locations twice, nothing happened.  So, the plan was to come back in the afternoon.

Sitting with my back against the first tree on the right kept me in the shadows.

Arriving around 3 PM, a quick walk was made to the easterly edge of the pasture.  In this area, there were no signs of turkey, and there were no feathers laying around anywhere.  Usually if turkeys have been going through an area, you will see some droppings and some feathers.  Usually not a lot, but if the signs are fresh, your opportunity just went up.

Sitting right in front of the big tree might be a little exposed, but visibility was good 180 degrees, and a person just had to sit real still.

The temperature was now around 70, and the wind had came up to a really brisk breeze.  This does not affect the hunting, it just makes it more comfortable with the tendency to take a nap.  What is really interesting about this area is the lack of any sightings of mountain lion.  Just 30 miles to the north, there has been multiple sightings.  The deer population has always been very high, and the only thought might be the closness of the city and traffic bordering the north of the farm. Coyotes have been spotted on the ground.

Right in front of the tree on the right and behind all the brush was the best spot of all.  Here the spot was a 100 yards out from the dense timber, but in the past they had traversed through this area.  This was the last spot to try but I got skunked anyway.

Following the same process of sitting in one spot for at least 90 minutes and then sneaking off as slowly and quietly as possible still produced no results.

My tag expires at the end of the month.  This year the Iowa turkey tag may not be filled, unless I head west across the levee and into the dense timber toward the river.  The process is called hunting and not shooting.  There is still time to go.  Getting skunked happens periodically.

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank



 

 

More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!