BE PREPARED; THAT motto was created in 1908, and adopted by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, or so I am told. I may never have been a Boy Scout, but whenever I head for the woods, I make sure I am always prepared; almost always.

Last week, I picked the wrong time and place to head for the woods without making sure I was prepared.

On the day in question, Gordie, my intrepid yellow Lab, and I headed for the woods to do a little deer scouting. After all, as everyone knows, deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 20.

I’m not sure why I’m doing a whole bunch of deer scouting this fall, since every stand I check out is one I’ve used at least a few times before, most of them on many occasions. The odds are though that I won’t be sitting on any of them come opening day.

After all, for the last six years in a row, I have killed a buck on a particular stand no later than 8:30 opening morning, with one buck ending my season by showing up five minutes after shooting hours began. I stretched that season out as long as I could, merely watching him meander ever closer to me until I finally pulled the trigger 15 minutes later.

To get back to this scouting business, however, tradition dictates that any deer hunter worth his salt must spend at least 40 hours each fall at the task of scouting. I think it’s a law printed in the regulation pamphlet for the gun deer season.

On the afternoon in question, it was overcast with very little wind. The place I was checking out was a low ridge overlooking a spruce swamp with a little valley running into the swamp forming a T-shaped piece of terrain to watch. Well-used deer trails crisscross the place, all within 50 yards or so of where I would sit.

After doing my due diligence of scouting that spot, the dog and I sauntered off our little ridge, crossed an old overgrown logging road and began a slow, quite ascent up a hardwood-laced high ridge, at the top of which is another pretty good spot that could be a likely place to see a deer or two wandering through during the course of opening day.

As a preamble to all this deer scouting stuff, let me remind everyone that on the day in question the fall turkey season in north Wisconsin was still in full stride and let me further remind everyone that on that day I had on my person an unfilled fall turkey tag, which is still unfilled.

Anyone who has ever hunted turkeys, spring or fall, knows that these super smart critters do not suffer fools gladly. While a deer, bear or some other wild critter might stand still for a minute or two to size up an intruder upon the landscape, wild turkeys in general do not.

Let them spot the least bit of movement, be it a human hunter or wild predator and they usually spend little to no time in “yippee-ki-yaying” the heck out of Dodge.

On the day in question, I happened to run into a flock of about a dozen turkeys along that ridge top, three of which I immediately spotted as long-bearded gobblers. Instead of going on the run like bank robbers ambushed by Eliot Ness, the turkeys, including the gobblers, danced a little jig and only after collectively thumbing their noses at me and Gordie, slowly meandered off into dense cover.

With my trusty 12-gauge at my side, it would have been nothing to pick out the gobbler that looked the most handsome to me before delivering a load of magnum fours that would have put said gobbler on my Thanksgiving dinner table.

The only problem was that I invaded their territory wholly unprepared. A trusty 12-gauge was resting comfortably at the time on the front seat of my truck. So were the magnum shotgun shells it should have been loaded with.

After audibly saying bang several times as I pointed my right index finger at the chosen gobbler, he and the rest of his buddies and girlfriends casually melted into the undercover, never, to this date, to be seen again.

If there was any good to come of my little fiasco, it would be that the lesson I learned won’t soon be forgotten and I won’t be caught unprepared again anytime soon.

For good measure, after two weeks of diligent scouting, almost all of it through territory I am highly unlikely to see once deer season opens, I am prepared for that monster “turty-point” buck to walk past the stand where I am sure to be sitting.

I will not have forgotten to load cartridges into my beloved .30-06, including one in the chamber. I will have a set of fogged-up lens caps removed from the scope even before needs be. I will be alert, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and no buck worth his salt will be safe walking through my little piece of the woods.

I will be a perfect model which all good Boy Scouts would strive to emulate.

I promise, I will be prepared.