Looks like there will be a Butterball turkey for the Thanksgiving Day dinner and subsequent cold turkey sandwiches.
Last Friday I had an hour or so to spare before heading south to Marietta to attend an annual conference of outdoors writers. That presented to me one last opportunity at bagging a gobbler this season. It also would be my 12th very early rise-and-shine awakening during the turkey hunting season.
The final day caught me near Jefferson in Ashtabula County. Almost immediately a gobbler responded to the notes from an owl locator call. The bird was close and required a quick set-up and wait.
Unfortunately the cover was dense and most of the trees were small, affording little in the way of back support and concealment.
But, boy, was that gobbler a conversationalist. The turkey would double gobble, triple gobble and go on and on. It responded favorably to every call scratched from the push-pin call or mouth call.
And I suspected that the turkey couldn't have been more than 75 yards away; likely even closer.
The woods were very active, too. I saw a total of five deer that wandered about, and because of the lack of a good sitting tree, the animals spotted me though they did approach to within 35 or 40 yards. A raccoon likewise made an appearance.
When two hens came marching up the hill and stop within 30 yards or so I was encouraged. I figured they'd have the gobbler in tow. Nope. The gobbler never showed and simply and slowly strolled away.
After about 45 minutes the woods fell silent and I knew then and there that my turkey hunting season was over and not for the better. So I shook the kinks from my legs and back and walked out of the woods.
It had been a frustrating and confusing year. In none of the 12 trips (racking up more than 900 miles on the car) I never saw a single turkey and believed I had a good opportunity only two or three times.
I had given it my best and I at least walked away knowing that I could not have done more or anything differently.
Not being omnipresent I could not be in two places at the same time so I had to make a choice as to which spot to hunt each morning. And not being omniscient there was no way to know which location held a willing tom turkey.
Oh, well, there's always the fall turkey season. And maybe I'll be able to collect a frozen Butterball at a Crooked Creek Conservation Club turkey shoot this November.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn