Jeff's Dad - aka Swanee - checks the trail map during an 80-plus mile 4-wheeler ride in the Black Hills
Turkeys, ATV's and Swanee
I took my annual spring turkey hunting trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota in mid-April, and not only was it a great trip vacation-wise, I was also able to bookend the trip by doing a little business.
On the business side, I scheduled meetings heading out and coming back with the Food Service Directors in three of South Dakota’s largest school districts – Joni Davis of Sioux Falls, Janelle Peterson of Rapid City and Darrel Davis of Pierre. These dedicated public servants are feeding some 37,000 of the state’s more than 125,000 public school K-12 population.
As for the turkey hunting, I bagged my bird within the first two hours of the scheduled four-day hunt just south of Hill City. Normally, being done this early in the hunt would relegate me to being camp cook and having a lot of down time while the rest of my crew was out hiking the hills in pursuit of the elusive Merriam’s wild turkey.
Jeff with his Merriam's wild turkey, taken on the opening morning of the Black Hills Spring Hunt
This was my sixth consecutive year turkey hunting in the Black Hills, and the last time I filled my tag on the first day, I was able to take the 3-plus hour round trip hike to Harney Peak, the highest summit east of the Rockies all the way to the French Pyrenees. This year, however, I created a memory that is sure to last the rest of my life. The hunting crew included the usual suspects: my brother Mike, my brother-in-law, his brother and dad and another buddy. Rounding out the party was my 72-year-old dad, Roger (but you can call him Swanee!) The great memory we created came from an 80-plus mile 4-wheeler ride we took on Monday.
This ride was awesome due to the beautiful scenery we were able to take in while traversing the ATV trails and logging roads of the southern Black Hills. We saw white-tail deer, mule deer, wild turkeys and eagles, not to mention the breath-taking views from high-up vistas. But what really made this experience great was simply being able to spend time with my dad. No, Swanee is dying or anything. In fact, he’s in better shape than I am, despite being more than 25 years my senior. It’s just that at his age (and mine) you do not want to take such experiences for granted.
I sure didn’t and I already can’t wait for next year!