- By Brandon Wikman
This was my first introduction to the sacred place the northerners call “Upper Michigan” a.k.a. (Yooper Country). Jenn and I were still dumbfounded with the spur of our sour luck until we rolled into the palace of Maple Ridge Outfitter.
Mr. Gary Scarborough pulled into the driveway as both Jenn and I gawked at his beautiful wilderness creation. Our spirits were lifted to the roost as we entered the walkway to my dream cabin that appeared to be torn off the back of a rustic home magazine. At the porch, Gary introduced us to his son and chief guide, Sam. He was a character. Sam’s the type of person that you’d fall in love with at sight; a “bromance” if you will. His quirky ways and hilarious attitude boosted the atmosphere and made us feel humored beyond belief! The smiles were served, ice was broken, and now it was time to settle in.
As I opened the door, a blessed aroma of firewood filled my nostrils while my squinty eyes finally opened to something that simply amazed me. Gary decorated his hunting cabin with the only fitting décor, animals. He showcased giant moose, wicked caribou, and monstrous whitetail that were taken off properties only miles away. He even had a blown-up gobbler, which stood in strut casting dominance across the room. Great people, incredible accommodations, and the anticipation for Jenn’s first turkey soon charmed my dreadful evening.
After my awe-struck hour, it was time to get to business. The evening was swift. I dumped my bag of assortments on the floor and began picking through it like a vulture. My camouflage outerwear, clunky boots, and magical bag of Keystone turkey calls. I also yanked out the most important accessory, the video camera. These were my weapons to defeat the savvy “Yooper bird.” While I unpacked, Jenn did otherwise.
Jenn failed like a 3-year old eating spaghetti . She was working in ‘sleep town’ sawing logs as I sat down with Gary and Sam to go over the turkey agenda. These boys knocked the heads off some birds. We flipped through the trophy album blissfully grinning at photo after photo. There were a tremendous amount of successful hunts from only weeks ago. Now it was our time; the last week to hunt birds in Michigan, but the weather turning pale. The Weather Channel showcased a slow moving cold front engulf the northern part of Wisconsin and en route to the U.P. As fate would have it, we woke up to a gloomy morning. The temperature dropped significantly and a cold air mass system loomed over the roost trees. This was not what I had hoped for. This time the meteorologists were correct.
Jenn and I grabbed our goods and vanished with Sam into the dark. I threw on an extra layer of clothing, as did everyone, and ventured into the forest. The hunt began to feel like a November whitetail chase as temperatures plummeted. Silence grew as we nestled into shrubbery and cloaked our gear into nature. As mounds of dark clouds piled above the pines, bursts of sunlight were choked. The woods were silent. This was no weather to strike a chorus of gobbles. Hopes of killing a bird off the roost was soon washed away by droplets of rain. Before I could even begin to start pouting, the droplets turned into boulders and it was go time!
Over the next few days we watched as miserable weather damped the hopes of enchanting Jenn with a strutter. As I peered out the window hopelessly stressed, streaks of rain oozed down the glass likes tears. Although, this was no time to frown or drown emotions thanks to Mother Nature.
Gary and Sam entertained every beaten feeling of distress in us. Lavish homemade meals, several nail biting games of pool, and a toasty day nestled in the cabin relaxing and enjoying one’s company. This was what camaraderie and good people were all about.
Needless to say, Jenn wasn’t able to pull the trigger on a soggy feathered bird. In fact, after the first day of breaking down on the highway, getting towed, running late, and watching the weather burst our hopes of birds… I really didn’t care. The face of an enlightened girl enjoying every minute filled my soul with accomplishment. I ventured out of the holy land of “Yoopers” with new friends, a memorable experience, and another shot at wrangling Jenn her first turkey.