Every year, about this time, I come down with a version of cabin fever. It’s too cold to fish the open water near Red Wing to chase walleyes, the recent snow that piled up covered any exposed shed deer antlers, and I’m not a big ice fisherman (I don’t even own any equipment) so I can’t go on the ice to catch any panfish. I’d entertain the idea of working six or seven days a week during this time of year if it meant that I could use those days in May to get in some extra fishing or turkey hunting. So basically, it’s kind of a depressing time of year for me.

What do I do when forced into a sedentary state of hanging out in the man room? Well for one thing, I catch up on reading my mail. I know that’s not the most exciting thing ever but the day I chose to do it happened to be the day I received the “Golden Ticket.” Actually it’s more yellow than gold in color and it’s not so much a ticket as it is a postcard. When the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sends me a yellow postcard informing me that I drew a permit for the first turkey hunt in April, listing dates that I can buy extra tags, it is a Golden Ticket.

The arrival of my Golden Ticket in the mail gave me reason to celebrate. I say this every year: even though the turkey hunting season is still two and a half months away, the spring turkey hunt is the reward for enduring another Wisconsin winter. It is the bright light at the end of the winter tunnel and it cannot get here fast enough.

Hanging out in the man room, with my mind on turkey hunting, I started looking around at my turkey hunting tools of the trade. For most of the year those turkey calls, fans, decoys and other spring gear adorn the man room walls like some sort of decoration. The truth is that’s just the place they are kept so that when I need them during the two months in the spring, I know where everything is.

The more I looked around and mentally gathered my gear, the further I distanced myself from the reality of the cold, blustery, January day. I wondered just how long I had been doing this turkey hunting business and my answer came from Kodak. You remember the days of Kodak when you looked at photos in your hand and not in your phone? I found a picture of the original turkey that I bagged in April 1996. That means in 2020 I received my 25th Golden Ticket. You are correct if you noted that those dates only added up to 24 years. I did hunt in 1995 and got shut out, but I got enough of a taste to know that I would turkey hunt in the future.

Man, I cannot believe that it’s been 25 years. That’s a great anniversary and cause for a celebration of sorts. I think maybe I need to mark the occasion with a new turkey hunting gun, some new boots, new camo wear, new calls, more decoys …