Linda K. Burch is President of WildTech,
maker of FireTacks Trail Markers and More.
Out of breath and nearly at our destination, we climbed up a steep rise
that then sloped back down into yet another secluded bowl feature
created by a drainage swale off the side of the huge bluff. We
stopped in our tracks, eyes riveted on the sight below us. There
in the small flat below, was a cow lying on its side, occasionally
twitching, and with its newborn calf hovering nearby. We set our
gear down and observed for several minutes.
Calfing ain’t easy. Where is that dang bull when you need him anyway?
After coming up empty handed Kansas turkey hunting the week before, I
was a woman with a mission this week in Wisconsin. For the third
year in a row I was not drawn to turkey hunt my own 80 acres near
Isle, Minnesota and the torrential rains in Kansas the week
before had dampened my spirits further. Wisconsin was forecasting
the same kind of weather for the rest of the week, and today looked
like the only nice hunting day we would get. When we
arrived, my favorite hunting field had been taken by two other hunters
so we ended up hunting opener in an uncharted field with results one
might expect without any homework.
Zip. No Birds.
Midday we drove around glassing areas we had permission to hunt and
spotted strutters in a remote grassy bowl near a cow pasture. I
was hunting and Steve Plummer was doing video of my hunt for Ron
Schara?s Minnesota Bound. My buddy Dale Kane was hunting further
to the north on another farm.
The landowner farmer, Kurt, met us
on the road in his truck and suggested we climb up and over the south
side of the bluff and put a sneak on the birds through the woods to the
north. I felt entering through the field in daylight would scare
the birds off, but this back door approach seemed
So that was The Plan and I was finally
excited! Coming up the back of the bluff became a Herculean
undertaking however. I was toting my packed turkey vest, shotgun,
turkey seat, rain gear and a Double Bull blind. Steve had his
video camera, tripod, pack and his own larger Double Bull Blind as
We forged through thorny briar patches and stinging
nettles, buck brush thickets, up and down 45 degree angle slopes, and
on deer trails that were more like mountain goat paths. It
was nearly seventy degrees and we were sweat soaked once we came down
the north face of the bluff. My plan was to skirt the fields
sixty yards back into the woods to avoid detection and set up on the
field edge if we saw birds. We were within two minutes of our
intended spot after a 40 minute trek.
Think the turkey can see us?
That?s when we came on the downed cow and her calf. The animal
was in trouble and we knew what we had to do. Steve went back to
alert the farmer about the emergency and I went ahead to find a spot to
set up our blinds for the evening hunt ? if there was going to be
one. The landowner Kurt quickly drove his Bobcat back into the
swale and tried to lift ?Teffer? the cow up but she was too weak to
stand after struggling all day. She had calved in the last 24
hours which added to her weak state.
Kurt rolled her off her side
and upright to rest, gave her water and prodded her to get
up. Steve and I finished setting up our hunting spot and I
decided to try calling gobblers for the last half hour left of legal
shooting time. I immediately got gobbles responses back, but I
just as immediately realized that at the rate the gobblers were
approaching, it would be after legal shooting time before they got to
us. We then would have turkeys around us till they roosted three
hours later, so I indicated we should get out of there right away and
hunt the morning.
Whoa, easy buddy that’s my udder your shaking.
Morning came and with it, so did rain and high winds. We heard a
few gobbles at dawn, but as soon as the rain and wind started up, the
gobblers went silent. By 7am we were surrounded by cows who
decided to play with my decoys and nose up to Steve?s camera. By
9:30am I was getting hypothermia and the shakes. I was relieved
when Steve said his camera was fogging up and suggested we head
out. I tried shoo-ing the cows away when I removed my
decoys, but they recognized me as a human and a possible food source
and wanted to follow me around rather than be driven off.
We is lookin. We jus ain’t seeing.
For a number of years I had the privilege of hunting this area of
Wisconsin with my buddy Dale and it felt good to do something in
return. Kurt said the cow would have died over night had it not
been found, and her calf would likely have fallen prey to coyotes.
As Steve and I trudged back through the pasture to camp, he noted ?What
comes around goes around?. He had three more video shoots to do
in as many days and needed to pack and leave. While we were not
successful in getting a turkey kill on video, we both enjoyed an even
better kind of success: Giving back.
Linda K. Burch is President of: WildTech
maker of FireTacks Trail Markers and More.