TODAY, IS A good day. Today, I am in a forgiving mood.

Specifically, I am forgiving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Why, you may ask. Well, it began last year, when the DNR did not give me a spring turkey license for Unit 7 except for the last time period, which I didn’t even try to use.

This year, probably because I am such a nice guy, the DNR gave me a first-choice tag. That choice being the second season in Zone 7, a zone which encompasses all of Vilas County.

Disconsolate as I was last spring when the DNR shunned me, this year, all is forgiven.

Seriously, with the limited number of annual tags available in our zone, I am perfectly happy with getting a first-choice tag every other year. In the years that I don’t, I can always head south to Thorp where many more tags are available or I can go even farther south to Illinois where most of the years when I have hunted there I have come home with a gobbler.

In life, there are countless times when things jump up at you that completely surprise you. One of those things for me has been turkey hunting.

Heading way south with my cousin, Art Long, back in the mid-’80s, I got my first taste of turkey hunting in Missouri. I didn’t kill a gobbler that year, but I did have two very close calls and when a week of hunting was over, I was hooked.

The next season, I almost came home empty, but the last morning of my hunt, with a Kansas City, Mo., friend doing the calling for me, I finally got my first gobbler, a 23 1/2-pound bird with a 10 1/2-inch beard. Then, I was really hooked.

At that, I never envisioned being able to hunt and bring home a gobbler from a Wisconsin hunt. During the ’80s, there wasn’t a solitary turkey in the state of Wisconsin.

Then, the horse trading started. Wisconsin live trapped and sent ruffed grouse to Missouri in exchange for some of the “Show Me” state’s turkeys. It took several years, but eventually, a handful of counties in southwestern Wisconsin had turkey seasons instituted.

Some say patience is a virtue, and for those of us waiting and hoping to hunt turkeys in Wisconsin, it took a lot of patience before we got our reward.

Gradually, the counties open to turkey hunting grew in number and eventually, I was lucky enough to draw a tag for one of those counties. Fortunately, my aunt and uncle had a home in Viola along the Little Kickapoo River, right where my tag was valid.

Uncle Gerry was a good guide and about two hours into my first hunt there, I filled my tag with a 20 some-pound gobbler. Instantly, I was hooked on Wisconsin turkey hunting.

In subsequent years, I hunted again at Viola, but also at the home of my son-in-law’s parents outside of Tomah and for quite a few years, in my wife’s stomping grounds of Eau Claire County, thanks to a couple of her cousins who owned farms with lots of turkey woods.

It was there where I killed what is still the second largest gobbler I have ever killed, a hefty 26-pound bird that came to my calls just like the books say it should happen.

Maybe the most exciting turkey hunt I was ever a part of was the one when I took a good friend, the late Vern Wiggenhauser, for a hunt on a farm south of Eau Claire.

The first morning, having roosted a bunch of birds the evening before, we set up on the edge of a field about 50 yards from the roost site.

All went according to Hoyle, when birds began to fly down shortly after shooting hours began. Unfortunately, in quick order, Hoyle went off the tracks. All the dozen or so gobblers and jakes among the 43 birds we counted were herded well out of range by the hens with them.

Each time I started getting one coming to us, a hen would charge after him and convince him to rejoin the flock. Finally, after a fruitless half-hour of calling, wishing and hoping, a fox came across the field and strutted through the flock with a rabbit clutched in its jaws.

Ball game over, but just for that morning. The next morning, set up on the opposite side of that field, my calls brought three gobblers running, each of which took turns beating the heck out of a decoy placed 20 yards in front of us.

I watched as Wiggenhauser acted like he was on a swivel chair, muzzle of his shotgun wavering to bird No. 1, then to bird No. 2, on to bird No. 3 and back and forth. I started whispering, a little more feverishly each passing second “Shoot one of them.”

When my heart was at the bursting point, he finally pulled the trigger. Never, ever have I seen a hunter more filled with joy than Wiggenhauser was that morning. My happiness matched his.

Since then, I have hunted and killed gobblers within a few miles of my home in Sayner, in Illinois and Kentucky. I hunted one time on Tennessee John’s property outside of Knoxville, Tenn., but killing my first “Volunteer” state gobbler is still on hold. I hope to end that wait in early April, when my wife and I have tentatively planned a trip there.

Wish me luck.