Thankful Outdoors: Fishing Opener and Turkey Season Collide

Beaver Dam while on a walk through the woods

OnFocus – Welcome to May 1st and the Wisconsin fishing opener! My boys and I will soon be back to three to four fishing adventures a week. Tuesday of this week, I wrapped up my efforts to hunt turkey for week one. Congratulations to those that filled tags during the youth hunt and week one.

Two of my brothers found success during week one. Corey harvested a jake in Zone 3 on opening morning, and Kurt found success in zone 4 and filled his tag with a nice tom.  My success was not seen by filling a tag. I joked with family and said, “I’m no longer going to identify as a hunter and will now identify as a walker who carries a weapon for defense!”

Kurt and his turkey harvested in week one of the turkey hunt.

Even though week one went without a filled tag, I found other areas of the outdoors that I felt were a success. I walked so many miles during the season that I dropped a few extra pounds that crept on during the winter months. Another success was being able to explore areas from years past that sparked old memories.

During my travels, I went back into some areas that I have not hunted in five-plus years. Some of those areas changed drastically due to logging activity. The hardwoods that I would wander through chasing turkey were no longer there. They have been replaced with new sapling growth that only future generations will see turn back into hardwoods. By the time those woods have reached that level of maturity to be hardwood ridges again, I will be long gone. The local deer population appreciates the newly formed saplings. Many deer were sighted taking advantage of the freshly made smorgasbord!

I took several moments during my walks to sit and think about the missed opportunities that I had in these areas on different birds over the years, remembering where some of the old trails were located.  I took some time to walk through some of the existing hardwoods in the area, trying to remember where I had found birds one afternoon that I could never get. For the life of me, I can’t find that one little ridge that I had spent hours calling to a flock of turkey one sunny afternoon. All I have left from that hunt is the memory of how it was to watch the small flock of turkey feed and talk to each other.

As I wandered around, I found a beaver dam and an oak tree that they had dropped into a small feeder creek to a flowage area. I find the beaver to be a fascinating animal in the wild. They are the loggers of mother nature. Not only do their logging abilities amaze me so does their ability to be master construction workers. The sturdiness of a beaver dam is unreal.

Whenever I find a beaver dam, it reminds me of the opening day of fishing in the ’80s when we would go trout fishing in little streams scattered throughout Taylor County and Marathon County. There is one little stream in Marathon County called McGinnis Creek where Grandpa Hopperdietzel would catch his limit of trout by a beaver dam. It’s was Grandpa’s go-to spot, and one opening day after I spent the morning feeding my worms to nothing more than creek chubs, Grandpa had me fish with him, and I soon was catching brook trout.

Makeshift walking sticks found in the woods.

One of my scouting trips this spring had me on a river bottom with all kinds of beaver signs; I found a couple of sticks washed up on the bank. These sticks I thought would make a fun project for the boys, and I turned them into walking sticks.

Bryce and I started to sand them down this week; after our first sanding session, we talked about craving something into the sticks. Since we had two sticks, Bryce said, let’s carve Sid and Boone’s names into the sticks. Sid and Boone are the two dogs that the boys have grown up with and what they know as their four-legged friends.

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.