April 29, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

At risk of sounding like Iím in a mid-life crisis, Iím going to sound the broken record once again and say, boy am I getting old.

Here it was Friday before I finally made my first trip into the timber for turkey season. Worse yet, it has been my lone excursion thus far.

In years past, I would have gone every morning of opening week until I had bagged my first gobbler.

Itís strange how sleep becomes more important as we get older. The idea of putting in a long week at work on top of a bunch of 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls, just is not as attractive as it used to be.

Of course, I really had no excuse for the weekend. I was at the races a little late Friday night, but I still could have gone either Saturday or Sunday morning. Even if I had not dragged my lazy behind out of bed, a person can do well hunting later in the morning. That is, if they go.

But not me, I found excuses not to get up each morning and more important chores to keep me in the office or at home each morning.

And it wasnít like I had bad luck. When I finally did go on Friday morning, I had a good hunt. I didnít bring home a turkey, but it still qualified as a successful outing.

I must admit that I went in sort of blind, going to a place that I had not scouted (if I canít muster the energy to hunt, you know I am not dedicating any effort to scouting). I suspected it would be a good spot. But when I got into place and awaited the thunder of the morning gobblers, I was a little disappointed. I heard several birds, but none were close enough to get me too excited.

The morning serenade was rather short. A few owl hoots produced the typical rebuttals from the birds but they quickly hit the ground and went quiet.

I was prepared to turn my attentions to mushroom hunting when I spotted the first hen sneaking out of the CRP behind me. She was just the start of the procession, as eight females in all came out into the bean field to feed.

But when you are after that big gobbler, a field full of hens is not always a good sign. Still it was better than nothing. Besides, what better bait could there be than a flock of live decoys?

My girls did not go unnoticed. Nearly as quickly as they paraded out of the woodwork, I had two different gobblers begin their serenades of the ladies. I had heard both toms gobbling off the roost, but apparently this was a regular meeting spot for the birds, because both boys came a long way to meet their prospective dates.

Unfortunately, neitherís path to the harem led them past my hiding spot. The bird that came from the west, was working his way through the timber. There is nothing that gets my heart thumping more than that hard double gobble that is close enough that it shakes your body.

He must have been awfully close at points but I never did see him until he crossed the fence line about 75 yards north from my seat.

The bird from the east came via a much more visable route. I watched him top the hill and strut to and fro on the hill crest.

Ultimately they all got together and of course decided to head off in the opposite direction.

I at least had two pairs of quail that kept me entertained after the turkeys had dispersed. They were a lot of fun to watch as they searched for bugs in the tall grass while constantly reviewing their surroundings as well as the sky above for any signs of danger.

I heard several pheasants as well so may be the fall bird season will be more successful for me. Then again, I have to go in order to have any success. Maybe Iíll find the fountain of youth before November 1.

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