Bad weather can be used as an excuse to avoid recreating outside, or it can provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and challenge.
Never one to ignore a challenge or not enjoy something different for no other reason than to say, “I experienced that,” said Jake Sikora, 17, a junior at De Soto High School.
During the course of the first day, Period A, of Wisconsin’s 2018 spring turkey season, Sikora had a school bus mess up a hunt; have a doctor’s appointment canceled, which could have given him more hunting time; have an early release from school due to blizzard-like conditions; and finally used a snowstorm to his advantage in providing much needed camouflage, concealment and craft.
Sikora had a couple hours before school to hunt and did but then the school bus came to pick up Pearl, his 16-year-old-sister, waiting for the bus near where Jake was hunting.
One opportunity was lost when birds turned and retreated to the woods.
“I had a doctor’s appointment and would have been able to hunt longer before the appointment and then going to school in the afternoon, but the doctor’s office canceled the appointment, which meant off to school at the regular time,” Sikora said.
Then something good happened, the snowfall increased, school declared an early out, and Sikora headed home hoping the turkeys were still in the area. His plan was to head back into the woods about 2 p.m. before going to his afterschool job.
“I looked out the windows into the fields several times from different advantage points in the house, but didn’t see or hear any turkeys gobbling or calling,” Sikora said. “Then I saw one, a hen about 1:45 and got my gear ready, including snow camouflage. I didn’t have a white hat but the brown one was covered with snow in a few minutes, so it didn’t matter.”
The field where Sikora saw the lone turkey was a series of depressions, so there was no place for him to see the entire area from one position.
“I went up a logging road, back and forth under a fence, into the field and did see a second hen and was about to give up and head home but decided to check one more depression. At that point, I thought I saw a turkey gobbler’s fanned tail and tried to get closer, sliding my gun along, trying to keep the snow out of the barrel.”
Finally, with the help of a near-blizzard, Sikora was able to get close enough, within 30 yards, to take a shot with his 20 gauge shotgun.
“The gobbler went down it didn’t move and that was good because it was a beautiful gobbler and didn’t lose any of its feathers” he said.
Sikora headed home, put the bird in a shed and dried his gear. Then the “feathers hit the fan.” His mother, Cindy, greeted him when she came from work and asked why he didn’t at least shovel the walk of their country home.
“Do you want to see the turkey I shot and hear the story?” Jake Sikora asked.
Cindy’s mood changed immediately, congratulating her son and sitting to hear the tale of the blizzard bird.
Looking back at the day, Jake Sikora summed it up like this: “It’s difficult to sneak up on turkeys, but I enjoy that challenge,” he said. “I went out just thinking I might see birds from the logging road and maybe call them toward me.
“I wouldn’t have been too disappointed if I didn’t get a chance to shoot knowing I was able to hunt in a blizzard.
“How many more times am I going to get to hunt in those conditions and use a blizzard to my advantage in sneaking up on turkeys?” he asked.
Sometimes when a cloud goes overhead, it has a silver lining. Consider that when a turkey season is a day of light drizzle, moderate wind and completely overcast.
It could be the only time you get to hunt in those conditions.