May 11, 2006

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Itís been a tough 2006 turkey hunting season, at least for this outdoorsman. With just days left, Iíve yet to bag turkey #1, leaving me little hope of duplicating my 2005 performance of two toms.

Iíd suspect that it may have something to do with it being May, but I guess I canít be offering many conclusions. It seems unfair to make assertions without much scientific proof, and Iím definitely lacking a whole lot of proof since Iíve only managed to get out of bed two mornings through the first two-plus weeks of the three-week long marathon.

Still, my limited proof, has me thinking that I would have been better off if I was 12-years old or under. No I donít want to relive my childhood. But I would have loved to been in the woods in early April when the stateís youth got a two-day jump start on the 2006 spring season.

I took my daughter during the youth season and the birds definitely seemed more interested in our calls and presentations than they have been for me the past two weekends.

Weather has something to do with the picture, or at least the lack of picture. I didnít even go during the first week, as the rain on Saturday and Sunday ruined my weekend plans of bagging my first bird. I did go out for a little while, in the mid-morning that first Sunday, but never heard a bird.

My first real outing was on Thursday morning, May 4th. This was also my first real disappointment, as after scouting two big gobblers the evening before, I was blanked Thursday morning. I was serenaded by a circle of gobblers on the roost, but unfortunately the group did not come to meet in the middle, where I was sitting. I gave up at about 8:30 a.m. without ever even seeing a gobbler on the ground.

I guess one might argue that I was in a bad spot, as I returned Saturday morning for round #2 in the same location. However, it is nearly the identical spot from which I bagged not one, but, both of my gobblers last year.

Saturday morning was a bit more eventful. I didnít even have to get out my owl call, as the real thing took care of my gobbler locating for me. I was beginning to wish it was owl season, as several of the birds started hooting and screeching. That woke up the turkeys, and I was pleased to hear, not one, but two, toms real close to my location.

But of course, they flew down in the opposite direction, landing in a field far enough away from me, to offer no hope of calling them in, yet remaining perfectly visible enough to taunt and tantalize me all morning.

My defeat was momentarily replaced with optimism as a new gobbler began speaking to me. He was northwest of me, and appeared to be moving toward me, even though the birds to my south refused to make a challenge to his approach.

Two other turkeys teased me throughout the morning with spells of approaching gobbles that ultimately ended with disappearing acts.

Fed up, I finally decided to pull up shop, break down my blind and head home to rethink my plans. I had my little tent half disassembled, when I spotted two toms in the tree line south of me. I suspect it was the duo that had disappointed me off the roost.

I had to drop my plans to relocate when the birds answered my call. They didnít give a vocal response, but I was even more excited to see them put their heads down and start charging toward me.

I flopped to the ground, scrambled for cover and rapidly threw together a plan of attack. My brief plotting was overruled when I caught a flash of motion to my left. A lone hen had wandered into my rear decoy and was staring me down as I was mentally kicking myself as I looked at my gun sitting to my right. Not that I was going to shoot her, but I had little hope of getting my gun up for a shot on the two fast approaching toms.

My fretting proved a waste of time. The two toms never materialized. Another half hour of wasted calling went by and I again stood up to leave. This time I got the packing done before I offered one final goodbye in hen language.

The responding gobble shook me. It was just 20 or 30 yards to my southeast in a thick group of trees.

Obviously they had never seen me despite my every effort to give away my position.

So for the third time, I sat down and started working the birds. The third time wasnít the charm. I heard the gobblers walking around in the timber, but I never saw a bird.

This time when I packed up, I put my slate call away first. I wasnít about to sit down a fourth time. I marched out without even a second glance back in the birdsí direction. Thereís nothing worse than a bad hunt, except a long bad hunt that means no nap when you get home.

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