The weather has gone from winter to summer in about three days. The lack of rain and hot sun are warming things up and drying things out.
I have been taking temperature readings on the Bouquet River and two weeks ago it was 38 degrees. The other day it jumped to 54 degrees. I have seen the hatches coming off the Bouquet River but no fish caught there yet. However, I hear the hatches on some ponds are driving the fish crazy!
The first two days of spring, or should I say summer, gobbler season started off without the sound of a gobble in the air for me. The one thing that farmers and turkey hunters hear this time of year is the earth waking up. The dead silence of darkness leads to the slow awakening of wildlife. Owls hooting, woodcock peents, and robins barking and chirping are the first sounds of morning that many people will never know. The whistling of mourning doves and ducks flying overhead, geese yaking away on a nearby pond and snorts of deer while walking and waiting for the first morning gobbles are music to the ears of turkey hunters. It’s good to be alive! The other day I was talking to a new friend, Rory, and we both agreed that turkey hunting is our number one hunting choice. Some guys or gals prefer deer or pheasant hunting, but we agreed that hunting spring gobblers is our top choice.
On my third morning out, I hunted up in Westport where I heard my first gobble. I don’t roost birds at night. I go out green in the morning and hunt wherever my mood takes me. This bird was on the other side of the railroad tracks, and state highway, back behind a farm house and field up on the next ridge top. It was in someone else’s turf for sure. A half hour later I heard a shot from up on that ridge and knew someone got their morning bird. Congratulations! I hunted for an hour or more with dead silence and finally started my way out. I did see two nice deer in a hayfield feeding and that made my day.
Day four came with a bird gobbling near me. I called and it started coming to me. The bird was on the move, but it was also a county road and on posted land. I had to get it to me; I could not go toward it at all.
So there I was with the dilemma of choice. Like a biblical temptation of Adam and Eve’s apple. The temptress of that gobbler trying to lure me to the other side was strong, and I had to fight it off. I had to make a decision. Do I fight the good fight? Do I cross the line and slip into the darkness?
I admit, I thought about sneaking across the line and going after that bird. The temptation was there. At 5 a.m. in the morning who would know? I would be out of there before anyone would realize it. I fought it off and stayed true to my values of the sanctity of private property ownership and property rights. I don’t want people hunting my land without talking to me, so I do the same. I honor those posted signs. There are folks out there thinking: “What a stupid jerk, you should have done it, I would have.” Well, I didn’t and that’s the way it is.
Anyway, back to the bird. I called and it started coming to me, gobbling and gobbling for some girly action. Well he got near the road and did a dead stop. He strutted back and forth, but would not cross the road.
I was back in the woods a legal and safe shooting distance so I never saw the bird, just heard him wandering and strutting back and forth up and down the roadway. I tried my best to get him to cross, but he was hung up and waiting for me. The next thing you know, a car went by, and ended it all. He was spooked and the party was over. After that it was dead silence from him. I waited for about another half hour just in case, but he was gone.
I’ll be back out in the woods tomorrow, trying to lure in a bird. I like to wander about, “run and gun” hunting, so who knows where I’ll be. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be on posted land.
That’s hunting! Good luck to all you turkey hunters out there. Enjoy the day and be free!
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at email@example.com.