It is early June, 2012, as I write this. Up to this point, 2012 has been somewhat of a mixed bag for me.
Sometime in late February or early March, I somehow injured my right elbow. The first I knew of it, I had the outside edge of my palm and my little finger starting to feel numb. When that numbness spread to my ring finger I knew I had to see my doctor. His diagnosis was an injured ulnar nerve and he warned me that it needed surgery soon or there would be a risk of irreversible damage. Even though I didn't have a choice, I hated to agree to have surgery right then. The earliest I could get worked on was the end of April and Mary and I were scheduled to be in the Northwest Territories for 2 weeks beginning June 1st. We rescheduled the trip for September, but as I write this I should be in the arctic casting for huge pike. Aaarrrgghh!
But all was not negative this spring. With the unusually warm winter and extremely early spring type conditions, the outdoor world came to life much earlier than usual. Mary and I were on big crappies by mid March this year and that is at least a month early. I learned that surgery was scheduled for early May and that left me with about a month. I intended to make good use of that time.
As I said earlier, it was extremely warm this spring. In fact, in early April we had 2 days that the low temperatures for the day topped the record high for that day. Everything was happening a month early this year. We were on slab crappies in the shallows, the wild turkeys were sounding off and morel mushrooms were poppin'.
Doug Stange, the Editor in Chief of In-Fisherman magazine and the host of their TV specials, and I keep in touch often. I also occasionally write for their magazine and guides. Doug had just returned from Mississippi where weather issues had foiled a crappie shoot they attempted. Still needing the crappie footage, Doug asked if I'd go fishing with him here. Of course I agreed and we set a date. Then, the cold front hit and with it came a lot of rain.
Doug Stange and I fishing crappies
Doug said he wanted to fish the 17-19 of April, but I could only go with him on Tuesday, the 17th. Wednesday I had an appointment with the surgeon and Thursday was travel day to turkey camp in southern Iowa for my hunt that started on Friday.
When we headed to the lake on the 17th, it was following a gully washer of a rain storm and the lake had risen 5 feet overnight. If that wasn't bad enough, the water looked like chocolate milk. Of course the fishing suffered. We caught a few, but nothing of any real size and certainly not enough for a film shoot. But we had fun and Doug's cameraman and I traded dirty jokes all day. Maybe next year, Doug!
Turkey hunting went better. My season opened on Friday, the 20th. Thursday night it stormed with plenty of lightning, thunder and rain. Friday morning I wasn't very confident, but crawled into my blind at 5:15 am. I waited until about 6:00 before I made a few soft yelps, but heard nothing. A half hour later it was the same and it stayed that way. I'd make a few soft calls and it was silent. At about 8:15, I had a lone hen come to investigate. She walked around me purring and looking for the other hen, but after about 10 minutes she slowly walked off. About 20 minutes later I made a few yelps and heard a gobble far behind me. Not being sure if he was talking to me, I made a couple of soft yelps and he immediately responded. And he was closer! A couple more yelps and he sounded off again. But this time another gobbler in front of me broke silence. By now I'm getting excited! I've got 2 gobblers racing toward a hot hen (me) from opposite directions. Gobbler #2, the one in front of me, won the race and I harvested him around 9 am. All things considered, I think this was one of the best turkey hunts I've had.
A nice gobbler I harvested on opening day. What a great hunt!
Stay tuned: A 2013 update is coming soon!