You never know when winning will hit ya

Back in the spring, I held a giveaway with my new hunting buddy, champion turkey caller Mitchell Johnston. He makes a line of sweet-sounding turkey calls, designed to help hunters put a hurtin’ on gobblers. They are aptly named Dead End Game Calls.

You got to know Mitchell in earlier blog posts, even gleaned a few mouth call care tips from a guy that’s used the same ones for seven years. (Yeah, you read that right.)

Mitchell Johnston is the Santa Claus of turkey calls, giving away seven of his Dead End call creations to my nice blog followers.

In an earlier giveaway, Mitchell sent seven calls to for Keepin’ Up With Karen followers who were also good at following directions. He parted with seven of his handmade creations to the lucky few who were drawn.

Congrats to…

Ken Bailey
Kevin Beck
Brandon Oxford
Dave Quong
Ryen Sawyer
Genie Walker
Greg Wood

You don’t have to do a thing except wait for Mitchell to contact you. Then you have roughly 290 days until kick off for the spring season.

If you’re a fall turkey hunter, let us know if you do any good with your new Dead End Game Call this year. I love pictures…

 

A beest of a journey

I’ve never been one to have the animals I’ve taken preserved by a taxidermist.

Perhaps it’s because my husband has enough stuffed critters in the house for the both of us. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never really killed an animal worth mounting (at least in my eyes).

The first (and only) shoulder mount I’ve ever commissioned was this blue wildebeest taken in South Africa. My impala and springbok are rockin’ it as European mounts, but I felt this big daddy deserved more. Check out a slideshow of his journey to America by clicking on one of the images below.

Sure, I have tail fans and beards of some of my turkeys on display. The rest of the feathers have gone to crafty friends who don’t hunt but like to make wreaths, ornaments and whatnot with animal parts.

The two deer I’ve harvested carried less than 6 points between the two of them. No wall hangers there.

That all changed when I went on my first African safari last year — two weeks hunting plains game on the Eastern Cape of South Africa with SHE Expeditions and six other gun-toting women.

A hunt of a lifetime like that warrants the utmost in memory preservation.

My favorite hunt was when I took down a behemoth blue wildebeest at 250 yards with a single shot. I never knew I had it in me!

It was an empowering experience to harvest an animal big enough to feed my family for several months. Of course, I couldn’t bring the meat home, but I left a deposit with African Pride Taxidermy that would ensure I’d have a reminder of “the beest” — and all the memories that surround him — for many years.

The wildebeest made to South Carolina about five months ago. I hate to admit that it sat on my dining room floor until yesterday. I just couldn’t decide where to hang it. (Maybe THAT is why I’ve never been into taxidermy.)

“The beest” now hangs in my office above my right shoulder (securely anchored in a wall stud, fingers crossed). No doubt, he’s a conversation starter, and I’m more than happy to share my treasured Africa experience with anyone who dares to ask.

And because I feel guilty for not putting the wildebeest in his rightful place before now, allow me to share with you his journey in pictures…

 

Wandering the Halls: Sam McDuffie, NWTF’s Winchester Museum Coordinator

Sam McDuffie is cool hipster meets Boy Scout. Musician meets museum coordinator. A creative mind who enjoys science. Basically, Sam is a walking, talking dichotomy.

Sam McDuffie wants to chunk tomatoes at Lady Gaga. He’s grown a beard since this photo was taken, so he might get away with it. Wait, I just blew his disguise…

I love folks like that. They keep you guessing.

By day, Sam molds young minds as they tour the Winchester Museum at NWTF headquarters. By night, he’s singer/songwriter/guitar god for the folk rock/blues group, Banned in Two States.

He recently meshed his two lives by writing and performing, “Get Your Call On,” a song/rap about wild turkeys. Talk about dichotomy…

The song is clever, but the music video will make you pee your pants. I’ve posted it on Keeping Up With Karen before, but it warrants another look, especially after you get to know the mastermind behind it.

Drum roll, please … SAM McDUFFIE! Then stick around for another showing of “Get Your Call On!”

OFFICIAL TITLE: museum coordinator/educator/Boy Scouts of America project manager

JOB DESCRIPTION: I educate the young minds about conservation, which includes the wild turkey, the greatest conservation comeback story. Occasionally, I get to add a new museum exhibit or two in the Winchester Museum.

NWTF EMPLOYEE SINCE: August 2009

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I was an interpretive ranger for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ state parks division. I was the infamous “Ranger Sam.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? Being a positive role model for the students I educate and teaching them that science is cool.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? The end of each fiscal year — too many reports that have to be turned in.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…with my wife at one of the five restaurants in Edgefield, S.C.

IF YOU WERE A WILD ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A barred owl, because it would be cool to fly and live at the top of the food chain. Also, I’ve always been a bit of a “night owl.”

IF YOU COULD HAVE FRONT ROW TICKETS TO ANY MUSICAL ARTIST/BAND EVER, WHO WOULD IT BE? Lady Gaga, so I can throw tomatoes at her for ruining music. Seriously, it would be The Black Keys. Their music resonates with me. They’re my favorite band (right now).

He is a champion, my friend

Your copy of the May-June issue of Turkey Country has had plenty of time to simmer on the coffee table, bed stand, back of the toilet or wherever you catch a few moments of downtime for yourself to read a few pages.

I’d like to invite you to pull it back out of the stack and look at the cover with me. No big time commitment. Simply look at the pretty picture, and allow me to give you the inside scoop.

Doesn’t Mark Prudhomme have the nicest smile? He looks like a favorite uncle. So kind and friendly. I also imagine him as the family friend who would take you fishing or show up unannounced at one of your Little League ballgames.

But this man is a mega contender in the calling competition realm. He was crowned champion in three divisions of the 2012 Grand National Calling Competitions — Owl Hooting, Team Challenge (with Kerry Terrell) and the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Champion of Champions. That’s the most titles any competitor has ever won in a single year. To top that, he now holds 13 GNCC titles — more than any competitor in GNCC history!

No one gets to be THAT successful by being a nice guy. Or do they?

Absolutely, if you’re Mark Prudhomme.

I called Mark to find out how he thought the Turkey Country cover bearing his friendly face turned out, and I was met by a wave of humility.

Here’s one image from the Mark Prudhomme photo shoot that didn’t make the cut. We were trying to have some fun, mixing two aspects of Mark’s life — winning calling competitions and working as a professional land manager. He was a good sport, allowing the photography team to haul a dozen or so of his trophies to the field and load them in a spreader.

He told me how he’d get Turkey Call magazine when he was a kid, remembering when it was just art on the cover, not photos. He was eager to dig into it. And when he started calling competitively, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on The Caller (when it was a stand alone newspaper) to see his name listed as a winner in a state or regional contest.

“It was a lifelong dream to be on the cover of the NWTF’s magazine,” he said. “So when [the magazine staff] called and said they wanted to put me on it, I couldn’t believe it.”

Mark said he enjoyed being a part of the creative process, watching NWTF Photo Director Matt Lindler and graphic artist Ryan Kirby set up the shots.

“It was amazing to watch their minds work,” Mark said. “When I saw the finished cover, I wasn’t surprised that they’d done a good job. They’re professionals. But I was really amazed at how well it turned out. They must have someone who’s really skilled at Photoshop to make me look that good.”

Mark made the cover of Turkey Country not only because of his wicked awesome calling skills, but that he lives his life as a hunter, land manager and family man with the same commitment it takes to be a winner on the competition stage. Plus, he’s just so darn nice about it.

Read more about Mark on page 128 of the May-June issue. Then click here to check out a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the cover.

Discover for yourself how sometimes nice guys finish first … a lot.

Karen’s Little Helpers

Hunting season essentials for when you’re not hunting

Every spring I refine my packing list as turkey season progresses. I leave behind the items I don’t use, like that second slate call that sounds similar to the first one. And add those things I really missed on the previous hunt, as in a could’ve-really-used-that-in-a-torrential-downpour rain suit.

I get by with a little help from my ear buds...and these other handy items.

This year, however, I built a list of things that are my must-haves during hunting season for when I’m NOT hunting. Stuff that comes in handy on the road, in the air and back at camp.

Enough yakety-yakking about ‘em, here’s my list of Karen’s Little Helpers…

EAR PHONES
I’m not lying, every flight I was on this spring had an irate baby on it. EVERY FLIGHT. I don’t shoot icy stares at the parents. Heaven knows that could be me one day. But there’s something about a kid crying “Mommy” that wrecks my nerves. I can’t tune it out … unless I crank up the tunes. A special thanks to Ozzy’s “Momma, I’m Comin’ Home” and the Judd’s “Mama He’s Crazy” for helping drown out the yelling. I simply pretended the screaming little banshees are backup singers.

FLIP FLOPS
Looking down at my feet right now, I’m in desperate need of a pedicure. Why? They spent six weeks in a pair of hunting boots. My tootsies require fresh air, so I pack a pair of platform flip-flops in my bag and wear them whenever I’m not hunting or on the gun range. They also come in handy when staying at more “rustic” camps. I’ll wear them in the shower or even just to keep my feet out of the dirt I just tracked in. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with making a fashion statement.

AN AUX CORD
You travel with me? You’re gonna rock out. I spent hours DJing my way up and down interstates this spring, having a one-woman karaoke party. I simply pump my music through vehicle speakers with that swanky little cable and sing my heart out. Two of my favorite memories from this spring were a direct result of having my tunes ready to roll at the right time. 1) Watching my guide, Jimmy Wright, shake his grove thang to “Baby Got Back” after he sent out a locator call to stubborn Merriam’s in New Mexico. 2) Seeing Under Armour’s Mark Estrada show off his mad air guitar skills to .38 Special while driving to the Oklahoma City airport. Priceless.

$20 IN CASH
This is one I learned the hard way. Cruising up I-77 in West Virginia, there were not one, not two, but THREE toll booths between me and my destination. I’m all about handing over the $2 a pop it takes to help them pave roads, provide scholarships or whatever the money is used for. But I only had $5 cash on me, and it put me in a pickle. Here’s an insider tip, they’ll let you through for $1.95 when you start scrounging for pennies in the cup holder.

CELL PHONE CAR CHARGER
Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who messes with her phone while waiting for a gobbler to show up. My iPhone is how I stay in touch with all of you. Facebook, Twitter, checking blog comments, that sort of thing. It is also my lifeline to my family. Having zero bars forces nature time (which really is great), but running out of battery is self-inflicted torture. Since hunters spend a good amount of time in trucks, I always bring along my charger to keep the juice flowing. And, yes, I still make a point to take in the view, stop to smell the roses, stuff like that. I also snap a picture of them and share them with you. That’s why you’re here, right?

Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors event — the sequel

If you see a man at the event, you can safely bet he’s a volunteer. Like these dudes who manned gigantic grills throughout the weekend. The team barbecued more than 700 chicken quarters for Saturday’s lunch, with steaks for supper that evening. (Do they say supper in California?)

The Bakersfield Chapter has a motto for its Women in the Outdoors event — NO HUSBANDS. NO CHILDREN. NO PETS. The focus of the event is the women who come to participate.

“Make up is optional,” event coordinator Kristie Blaylock said in an interview with the National Wild Turkey Federation a couple years ago.

I’m pretty sure they don’t have to twist a whole lot of arms to get women to comply.

 

I may look tough on the outside, but behind the helmet, head-to-toe camo and super-charged gun, I’m just a sweet little cupcake — looking for paintball blood!

Participants range in age from 14 to even a spry 80-something-year-old this year. And with nearly 60 classes available — from the physically intense (mountain biking, paddle boarding, paintball, skydiving) to the low-key (basic fishing, horseshoes and a variety of crafts) to adventurous (hunting with hawks, field dressing game, RV maneuvering) — there are activities for all interests and ages.

“Our chapter is never afraid to offer a variety of new classes,” said Blaylock, who seems to hold the key to keeping the event fresh each year, which keeps women coming back. And what makes this an award-winning event.

The Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors committee has won numerous awards for this event from the NWTF. In 2012 alone, they scooped up three national awards: winning the best local chapter as well as two that recognized their knack for raising funds for the NWTF’s mission.

I learned how Native Indians lived back in the day — and that the teepee was the first American mobile home.

This event grows every year, like the suburbs of L.A., or perhaps Charlie Sheen’s ego. In 2001, when the chapter held its first event, they hosted 37 women. This year, 527 ladies swarmed a scenic Tejon Ranch valley, popping up tents, parking campers and rolling in cars, some of which had “Women in the Outdoors or bust” written on the windows with shoe polish.

“Planning and executing an event for more than 500 ladies is not for the fainthearted,” said Women in the Outdoors Coordinator Teresa Carroll, who has attended the event in years past. “The Bakersfield Chapter, a virtual army of dedicated men and women, were tasked with preparing and serving meals, leading raffles and games, coordinating and instructing classes — the many small tasks that come together for a big, outstanding event.”

 

Alex Ravenfeather, wild plants/native living skills instructor from the Survival Training School of California, has a fantastic knowledge of wild plant uses and applications. He showed us the elderberry and how it’s a trifecta plant, meaning you can eat it, use it to treat illnesses and make stuff with it.

A more than 30-person committee led more than 170 volunteers to entertain, instruct, feed and wrangle participants in an orderly event that still managed to maintain a laid-back California vibe.

“Although we stay on schedule, our event is relaxed,” said Blaylock. “Everyone just goes with the flow.”

Check out the Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors event on Facebook for info on this year’s event and updates on future ones.

Carrie Landen (left) was in two of my classes during the event. But I’ll forever remember her as the gal who suggested eating at The Lobster at Santa Monica Pier before leaving L.A.

Treat your taste buds (and wild turkey) right, they deserve it

Nothing caps off a long day of hunting better than a heaping plate of stick-to-your-ribs food. Like meat, some kind of starch, with a vegetable or two thrown in to make your momma happy.

Chef James Africano, you had me at goat cheese. This picture just doesn’t do the dish justice (and tells me I need to upgrade my phone). Your eyes are feasting on root beer and jalapeno braised beef short ribs over goat cheese polenta.

If you ever make time to hunt at Vermejo Park Ranch, you’ll find mealtimes are more than pit stops to refuel for the next outing; they are part of the hunting experience. With a menu that includes bison, elk and local produce (including veggies from an onsite garden), Chef James Africano brings the outdoors to each individually crafted plate.

Chef James comes from Colorado but settled in as Vermejo’s executive chef in 2007. He takes traditional ranch meals (meat and potatoes) and turns them into delicious scenery, worthy companions to the amazing peaks, lakes and canyons of the surrounding acres.

He changes the menu weekly, with different specials each night. It’s the perfect plan, because you have the option of digging into the featured item without feeling like you’ll miss out on any of the other ridiculously yummy dishes. It simply gives you something to look forward to the next evening.

Here’s his New Mexico treatment for wild turkey — fajitas! Try it around the campfire or take your skillet inside. It’s a wild fiesta for your mouth!

Grilled Colorado lamb rack. Pan roasted arctic char. Doesn’t sound like your typical hunt camp fare? Tell that to your tummy when you’re finished. I think it’ll beg to differ.

Campfire Wild Turkey Fajitas

Ingredients
1 wild turkey breast (about 1½ pounds)
cut into ½-inch-thick strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion cut into long strips
1 red bell pepper cut into long strips
1 green bell pepper cut into long strips
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 fresh garlic cloves
juice of three limes
10-inch tortillas (about eight)

Now get cookin’

After cutting the turkey into strips, place in a large container and pour soy sauce and Worcestershire over them. Roughly chop the garlic cloves and add to the soy mixture along with the lemon juice. Refrigerate for four hours.

Warm a 12-inch cast iron skillet over the campfire or medium high heat. Add vegetable oil and wait for it to just start smoking. Remove half of the turkey from the marinade and carefully add to the hot skillet. Brown the first batch of turkey well, remove from the skillet and add the second half of the turkey strips. Repeat the browning process, and add the first batch of turkey back to the skillet along with the pepper and onion strips. Continue cooking for about 8 minutes, until the turkey is cooked through, and the vegetables have begun to soften and brown.

While the turkey and vegetables are cooking, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven or over coals from the fire. Sprinkle in the cumin, chili powder and cayenne and stir through. Season the fajitas with salt if necessary. Serve immediately with the warm tortillas and condiments of your choice.

Your wild turkey deserves more than an Old El Paso taco kit in a box. Try this campfire fajita recipe by Vermejo Park Ranch’s executive chef. After dinner, you’ll already be in the perfect spot for sharing the story of your hunt.

My condiments of choice? Sour cream, cheese and a boatload of pico de gallo! Sounds great, chef! Thanks for sharing.

And speaking of sharing recipes, I need your camp favorites for my cookbook project. Hey, if Chef James Africano thinks it’s a cool idea, then it’s a cool idea.

So send them to keepingupwithkaren@nwtf.net.

A turkey hunting love story

Spring turkey season isn’t about love. It’s a series of hookups between love-‘em-and-leave-‘em toms and hens stepping up to their motherly duties.

But this week, while hunting at the Vermejo Park Ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, I witnessed a real life turkey hunting love story.

Cally and Annetta Morris invited me to hunt with them at the ranch, all of us guests at the property owned by Ted Turner. And from what I’d heard about the place, the beautiful scenery, the abundant wildlife, I jumped at the chance to be a third wheel.

I’ve hunted with Cally and Annetta of Hazel Creek Taxidermy/Decoys before, and I knew it would be a pleasure (and not the least bit uncomfortable). It seems to me the only thing they love more than hunting is each other. And I’m drawn to that kind of warm fuzziness.

Cally and Annetta Morris LOVE to hunt (and they think each other is pretty special too).

Their relationship is about as far from a turkey courtship as you can get. They’ve been together since before their senior prom, and will celebrate their 23th wedding anniversary this year.

What makes this couple so special is that they’re together all the time — and they like it. They’ll log about 8,000 miles going to about 7 states this spring alone, hunting and filming for promotional DVDs for the company, giving seminars and spreading general goodwill.

With all that togetherness, surely they know each other inside and out. I decided to put them to the test and have them answer a few Newlywed Game-style questions. Of course, they had to answer them separately. No cheating here.

Let’s see how they stacked up.

What is the exact date of your wedding anniversary?
Annetta: May 18, 1989
Cally: May 18, 1989

(That’s a promising start.)

What was the first game species each of you killed?
Annetta: Cally’s was probably a deer in Missouri, perhaps a doe, since I remember his first buck. And he probably took it with a gun, since he would’ve been pretty young at the time.
          He said: My first kill was a cottontail rabbit when I was 9. That was the first year I was allowed to have a .22 rifle.
Cally: Hers was a turkey. It was the most wonderful day of my life, and I’m not talking about the turkey hunting… (wink, wink). She was 17. We started dating in May, and she killed it that October.
          She said: A fall turkey in Missouri. But he should remember, because he took me on that first hunt.

What would you be doing if you weren’t traveling the county hunting all the time?
Annetta: He would probably want to spend time at the beach.
          He said: I can’t even fathom not hunting, but I would probably be working on our farm and taking Annetta to the beach.
Cally: She would be training her horses and doing girl stuff.
          She said: I would hang out at the beach for a month.

What’s the one song you crank up on the radio when you hear it riding down the highway?
Annetta: He always turns up “Good Girl” by Carrie Underwood (because he knows I can’t stand it).
          He said: “Shotgun Rider” by Dallas Davidson. I crank that one to the roof!
Cally: She’d crank up “Texas Was You” by Jason Aldean.
         She said: “Springsteen” by Eric Church. But he’d probably pick a Miranda Lambert or Lee Brice song for me.

What would be your dream hunt?
Annetta: If money were no object, Cally would get his desert ram, because that would finish his slam.
          He said: I’d want to shoot a 400-inch bull elk with my bow. A close second would be a 190-inch big horn ram.
Cally: Anything by Prada. Just kidding. She’d want to shoot a 40-inch Dall sheep.
          She said: A Dall sheep in the Northwest Territories.

If you were keeping score, Cally had the most right. But it goes to show that if you spend every waking hour together (and those hours start before sunrise), there’s still so much to learn about the love of your life.

But I think Cally and Annetta would agree that’s part of the fun.

The odd couple of turkey hunting

It’s the makings of good entertainment — with the likes of Sonny and Cher, Dharma and Greg — but how does it stack up in the turkey woods?

On the second day of my Oklahoma turkey hunt, after taking down a longbeard the day before, I was matched up to hunt with David Schluckebier of Remington. Dave is an engineer, serving as a manager for new product development on the ammunition side.

If you’ve kept up with me at all (or know me just because), well, I’m a certifiable goof wad. A creative type. With an imagination that sometimes makes for good writing, and a sense of humor you either get or you don’t.

Dave and I are total opposites. He rides bicycles with his wife; I cruise around the countryside on the back of my husband’s Harley. He’s methodical, and my mind tends to wander without warning. He has kids in college and roundabouts; mine won’t graduate high school until 2025 (Lord willing).

But Dave and I found our unlikely pairing works when turkey hunting. We began our gobbler chasing careers around the same time (roughly 12 years ago), and our skill sets seemed to compliment each other while hunting in Cheyenne this April.

We spent our first morning and early afternoon together team calling, only to bring in jakes and hens by the bucketful. (I’m pretty sure Dave could tell you exactly how many of each from each setup.)

Our afternoon hunt culminated in a gobbler traipsing by us, eyeing our decoys, then choosing to stick with the three or so ladies he had with him, never coming within 50 yards. That’s still a good hunt in my book.

Dave and I stuck together the final morning, not seeing anything broke about our turkey hunting team. We’d found a busy crossroads for turkeys and wanted to see if it would take us down a path to success.

Remington’s Dave Schluckebier and I may not walk similar paths in life, but when it comes to turkey hunt, we’re on the same track.

We set out across a shrubby shallow bowl to our hot spot on a wooded ridge. Or at least that was the plan. We walked until we hit a fence, a literal barbed wire fence, one we hadn’t noticed the day before.

Then I realized Dave and I had at least two things in common: 1. We were lost.
2. We had healthy doses of determination.

After about 15 more minutes of walking, Dave said he’d found our sacred setup spot. I had my doubts but also carried enough respect for Dave to go along without too much argument.

As the rising sun softly lit the sky, I could see we were nestled among the wind-weathered trees, just like the day before. However I still wasn’t convinced we were in the right place.

Wasn’t there more canopy in the forest yesterday?

I didn’t remember that brush to my left.

And I’m pretty sure we were a good 100 yards further away from the ridge’s edge than we were the day before.

But I remained silent, as I watched the fan attached to our strutting decoy wave around like a Southern belle who’s had one too many mint juleps.

I kept quiet, listening to the wind turbines looming over our setup. They seemed to have to work extra hard to cut through the dense, damp air.

I struggled to find a familiar landmark to shout: THIS IS THE AWESOME SPOT YOU WERE IN YESTERDAY!

No matter. If our hunt was to happen here, now was the time.

We kept our chorus of yelps, clucks and a few purrs going. And we called in the same army of jakes that seemed to not want to leave us alone.

After about an hour, we realized it wasn’t going to happen here. I peeled myself off the tree trunk with a slight tinge of smugness. I was right, this wasn’t THE place.

But just as I began to gloat internally, Dave pointed out the matted grass from where he’d sat the day before. Then he pointed out the fallen log where he’d staked the decoy not 15 hours ago.

And I learned a lesson.

Opposite personalities make for good TV and turkey hunting teams, especially when one of the pair knows when to keep her mouth shut.

Countdown to turkey season and I’m down for the count

It’s the first week of South Carolina’s turkey season, and all I got is strep throat.

Bummer of a t-shirt slogan, but my current state of being nonetheless.

Yep, my darling little boy shared it with me, no doubt by either handing me a snot-filled tissue or through one of many lessons in covering his mouth when he coughs.

Apparently, I fell victim to the .01 percent the anti-bacterial hand soaps can’t kill.

So here I am…at home…looking at other people’s dead turkeys on Facebook. I’m truly happy for them, even though I can’t seem to muster up more than a measly like.

Heck, even yesterday as my immune system came crashing down during work, I was a horrible friend when Turkey Country Photo Editor Matt Lindler showed me a pic of his older boy’s first turkey.

“That’s awesome,” I croaked, not even asking the specifics. I’m sure I’ll like them on Facebook later.

Right now, I’m armed with the heavyweight champion of antibiotics and a new love of fruit smoothies, willing my way back to health.

I've got a fever, and the only cure is turkey hunting...and a week's worth of antibiotic (and maybe a little more cow bell).

It’s funny how many of the things we use to comfort ourselves when we’re sick come from nature.

Got cold chills? Wrap yourself in a down blanket.

Random sounds keeping you awake? Click on a noisemaker to fill the room with crashing waves or chirping crickets.

Stuffy nose? Ramp up the humidifier and pretend the mist is coming from a mountain waterfall.

Sore throat? Only a mixture of honey and lemon will do.

For outdoors enthusiasts like us, it’s no wonder. Nature is therapeutic, no matter how we choose to enjoy it.

For me, it’s hunting turkeys. Breathing dew-laden morning air. Feeling the sun’s rays hit my face. Gingerly strolling through the woods. Enjoying a good laugh with a friend.

But, for now, my reality is a couch, a can of Lysol and small, bland meals.

I just thank God this sickness happened now.

Starting Monday, my spring is packed with hunting trips to Oklahoma (with a bunch of turkey hunting industry friends), New Mexico (with top-notch taxidermist Cally Morris and his lovely wife, Annetta), North Carolina (with calling champ Mitchell Johnston) and Virginia (for some R and R turkey hunting with my hubby). I’m also giving a presentation at the North Eastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference in West Virginia. And I’ll head to California early May for the Bakersfield Women in the Outdoors event.

I’ll be blogging along the way. I hope you’ll join me as my life’s adventures will surely ramp up several times in the next few weeks.

Let me know how your springs are going too. Share your successes on my Facebook page or shoot over a Tweet when you can.

In the meantime, let’s collectively pray my antibodies work overtime. And that we all have a safe, healthy spring.

Take care out there.