Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for April, 2010

Opening Weekend

Posted by todblog on April 12, 2010

April 10, 2010

Today marked the beginning of league play for the Umpqua Valley Christian School’s varsity baseball team. Since March, the team has been off to a slow start playing eight pre-season games and had to cancel another four due to foul ball weather. It seems the players and the weather man have something in common during the spring, they both have a lot of curve balls thrown at them. We’ve had plenty of cold windy rain showers moving in and forcing reschedules making the team itchy to get some much needed game time in.

Today ball players and fans were greeted with a nice change in weather and saw a rainless partially sunny sky in Days Creek, OR. It was just what everyone was looking forward to, a nice day at the ball park listening to the sound of metal bats contacting baseballs and driving them deep in the green turf beyond. “PANK!”

It was fun to watch the boys settling in and play ball. Many of them are returning starters from last year’s team that won the 1A/2A Oregon State High School Baseball Championship and would dearly love to make another run at it. Go Monarchs!

Jacob aka “Jack” enjoying his Junior year with the Monarchs

But wait, that’s not all, another big event happened this weekend for youths. It was the third year Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offered youth hunters an early jump on spring turkey hunting. Young hunters got a chance to hunt turkeys the weekend prior to the April 15th general season opener.

Several weeks earlier, I was approached by our good friends, Brent and Heather Short, to see if I would be interested in taking their son Elijah on a spring turkey hunt. It seems that Elijah was taking an interest in turkey hunting but, nobody was available to show him the ropes. How could I refuse such a special request from a young first-timer thirsting to learn about the do’s and don’ts of spring turkey hunting. Oh, and did I mention there would be the beautiful Short family ranch along the North Umpqua River to hunt turkeys on? They didn’t have to ask me twice.

The night before our hunt, we arranged to have Elijah spend the night at our house and we took him to the annual National Wild Turkey Federation Umpqua Chapter Banquet to get him excited about the upcoming day. It was a barbecue dinner held at the local Roseburg Rod and Gun Club with a small crowd hovering over lots of auction items and great food. No shortage of folks talking turkey there. The delicious smoked pork tenderloin was killer and everyone had a great time bidding on auction items, playing games, raffles, and reconnecting with old friends.

The next day Jacob, Elijah and I headed out to the Short family ranch and we got into some turkeys right off the bat. Unfortunately, they were onto us too and they headed off in another direction. Disgusted with myself for rushing, I used it as a teachable moment…what not to do. I told the boys we’d take a short break and try some calling to see what else might be in the area. Sure enough, we got a gobble from a nearby turkey. After a few minutes of calling a black dot appeared on the open hillside and it was getting larger and larger as it quickly closed the distance on us. Elijah saw it and whispered, “Awesome…” I was sitting a few yards away from the boys and couldn’t communicate very quietly with them. I hoped they knew it was a young tom coming and that they would be ready. At 30 yards, the turkey stopped and looked us over. He then started to skirt around our position and he slowly walked away. When the turkey faded away, I asked the boys why they didn’t want that bird. They replied that they weren’t sure it was a legal bird to harvest. They showed great restraint and responsibility in their thought process and decision not to shoot. Besides, that would’ve been too short of a hunt as it was only 30 minutes and a 1/4 mile away from the truck. It was another teachable moment, this time on turkey identification.

We headed up a steep hillside in search of the large group of turkeys that we spooked off earlier in the morning. It was slow going trying not to slip backwards in the soft wet ground. We finally crested the hill and set up among some big oak tree trunks. I let out some soft yelps to see if any birds were nearby. Nothing responded. I got out my box call and started yelping. I got several responses but, nothing close. I got out a slate call and started a series of purrs and clucks and got a bird to respond immediately and it was nearby below us. Elijah and Jacob were set up and waiting for his arrival. Then all of a sudden there was a bright red head at 15 yards looking at us. It was a jake (young tom) coming to check us out. Elijah took aim and closed the deal on his first spring turkey. Jacob reached over and gave him the obligatory camouflaged glove high five.

We took our time enjoying the views of the North Umpqua River below us and we snapped lots of pictures. We finally made our way back to the truck and discovered that we had spent less than two hours on Elijah’s first turkey hunt. I told him that it doesn’t always end up this way and that there were plenty of times where I’ve gone home birdless but, with lots of great memories. However, in my mind, there was no question, that this was a sweet memory for all of us and it was certainly a “Short” turkey hunt.

Jacob with Elijah holding his first spring turkey overlooking the North Umpqua River

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