The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 27, 2014

Cross column: Killing wood ticks instead of gobblers

Some things just naturally go so well with turkey, don’t they?

There’s turkey and dressing.

Turkey and gravy.

Turkey and wood ticks.

Wood ticks?

If you’ve spent anytime shopping in the spring time woods for a Butterball’s wild brethren, you know the two go together like pretzels and beer.

I was reminded of this the other morning as I sat on the edge of some woods in Woodbury County near Correctionville in western Iowa, watching several of the little buggers creep up my pant leg.

Three hours earlier, in the excitement of having an absolutely perfect morning to ambush a wild turkey, I left the truck without giving myself a healthy dose of DEET.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Friday was off the scale, a turkey hunter’s dream.

After several days of wind, rain and chilly temperatures, the kind of stuff that dampens a turkey hunter’s enthusiasm and a wild turkey’s ardor, dawn arrived with nary a breath of wind, clear skies and pleasant temperatures.

As the morning warmed, apparently so did the wood ticks that clearly appreciated the warm-blooded smorgasbord this DEET-free hunter presented.

In spite of the perfect weather, there never are any guarantees of success when it comes to waylaying a gobbler.

So far, my hosts, Iowa landowners Kelly Ingenthron and Mark Hecox and I have struck out.

The birds certainly are out there on this marvelous parcel of land — a mixture of cropland that falls away to steep, heavily wooded ravines.

In the morning, the woods have been alive with the sound of randy gobblers ringing out from their roost trees.

We’ve had some close encounters.

Ingenthron had a trio of gobblers close in to within 50 yards or so before wandering off, much too far for a shot with the bow he was using.

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