Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is a turkey worth losing a good night's sleep?

I’m becoming too old for this sort of thing, the “this” getting up a little past 4 a.m. in order to hunt wild turkeys.

That early rise is only part of the “this,” too. After rubbing the sleep from the eyes - only partially successful I hasten to add - comes a 45-minute drive to the farm and then another 15-minute walk into the woods where the hunting blind is located.

The “this” isn’t finished just yet, either. There’s the matter of withdrawing three turkey decoys from the blind. Among them is a lifelike gobbler in full strut with its fan flamed out. In front of the tom is placed a hen decoy minus a stake - making it look like she’s ready to be, well, bred.

A third decoy - also a hen - is staked several feet away, its beak pointed down like she’s feeding.

Following this decoy placement ritual is a return to the blind, pouring out no fewer than four turkey calls that represent the broad spectrum of common tools.

There’s a wood box call, an aluminum slate pot and wooden striker, a diaphragm mouth call and my favorite: A push-pin call.

Oh, yes, I also withdraw from the turkey-hunting vest an owl hooter call. That call is used to try and get a roosting gobbler all fired up and located before legal shooting time.

All of the calls are splayed out on a folding side table that’s attached to a fabric captain’s chair. No point being uncomfortable if I’m expected to sit for three or four hours.

Problem’s been so far this season that neither the locator call nor the various turkey calls have done much good. In four partial mornings of hunting I’ve heard just one gobbler and seen only one hen. That’s pretty bad.

Some may even say that I should get off my behind, get out of the blind and go find a bird. There’s a problem associated with that technique, however.

The woodlot’s not much bigger than 50 acres, which pretty much eliminates a long trek in the forest in search of a talking tom.

My theory is to let the gobblers come to the mountain, particularly since my pained back restricts some of the mobility needed to hunt in the more conventional way of walk, call, walk some more and then call again until you’ve completed a lengthy, several-hour circuit.

It’s not that I’m entirely wedded to the blind though. I suspect that some morning I’ll head to another patch of woods I have permission to hunt and there listen for a bird. We’ll see.

Without question the present season has proven both fruitless and frustrating. Most of my turkey hunting friends have either scored on a gobbler or else have heard their fair share of yodeling birds.

I’m jealous of their success. Big time.

But I’m willing to keep trying though I am aware of one nasty thing about spring wild turkey hunting that I cannot escape. That being, the deeper into the month-long season I venture the earlier and earlier the sun rises. That compels me to keep resetting the alarm clock, spinning the minute hand backward ever so much more each morning.

Like I said, I’m getting too old for “this” sort of hunting. What I need is for a lonely and love struck long-beard or jake to answer my sweet talk and come running to the decoys.

I can only wish.

This blog entry includes a video that can be seen on The News-Herald’s web site.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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