Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Turkey Hunting & Life

By Chris Larsen

Turkey season is a time of rebirth… I’ve often written about this and it is true. Blankets of snow that dominated the landscape a few weeks earlier are gone. The shades of brown underneath return to green. Animals that survived the harshness of winter have a hop in their step. The going is about to get easier for them over the next few months.

There are many hunters who pursue coyotes and small game all winter long. But most of us haven’t hunted since the final days of deer season. I must admit to missing an entire winter of hunting. Work & family obligations kept me out of the woods all winter long. A planned coyote & shed hunt was put off due to an unexpected surgery. My best hunting partner had to take a four month work assignment in Chicago. The people we enjoy the hunt with are first and foremost in just how much enjoyment we’ll have.

Those are all regrets. I wish I would have made it out a little more. With spring comes a new season and a blank slate. It’s turkey time! The woods will soon erupt with gobbles as winter flocks break up and turkeys begin to form breeding flocks. Jakes and toms will battle for mating supremacy while hens scout for the perfect nesting spot. As the birds do what birds do, hunters will drive country roads looking for them. We will oil guns and pattern loads. Hunting blinds and turkey decoys see the light of day again. Anticipation is running high.

I have experienced great success during fall turkey season the past few years, but my spring turkey seasons haven’t worked out. My blank slate was covered in red ink by the end of the season. In 2009, I suffered some gun issues and was forced to use someone else’s gun. A late morning set up worked to perfection. A dandy gobbler was right on top of my decoy at 25 yards when I tapped the trigger. The bird staggered a bit and I hit him with lead again. The shots were off the mark and we never recovered that turkey. Nothing is more frustrating than not recovering a wounded animal. I’d rather have gobblers henned up or stopping in their tracks out of range. It’s a dismal feeling that I won’t let happen again.

My 2010 season was another exercise in futility. The Mexican Riviera is a favorite vacation destination for my wife and I. Unfortunately, we booked our trip before the Wisconsin turkey season drawing. Our vacation wiped out three and a half of the five days I would have to hunt. I didn’t worry about it. The other members of our turkey camp would have a few days in and they would no doubt be tagged out by the time I arrived. A full day and a half to get a bird? I should be able to do that. I scouted hard for them a few weeks earlier and was confident in a handful of locations. The moment I hit the ground in a US airport, I called the fellas. The weather was tough and the birds were call shy. They were turkey-less. The next morning wasn’t any better. When I arrived in camp my focus was on helping them fill their tag and filming them doing it. I never picked up a gun last spring.

That brings us to this season. Yes, birth is definitely in the air. My wife is eight months pregnant. The doctors say she could go into labor at any time. I will most certainly be sleep deprived on opening day of turkey season, but I won’t be wearing camouflage. In an effort to stay married, I have relegated myself to a late season hunt this year. I’ll wait until May to head into the turkey woods. The greenery will be more mature, the birds will be wary, and the mosquitoes will have developed a finely tuned taste for blood. Yes, this is how you fill a blank slate. The good news is I’ll be used to functioning well in a zombie-like state. Turkey hunting & life… no one said it would be easy, but I’ll enjoy every minute of it.


heyBJK said...

Congratulations on the upcoming birth of baby Larsen! You might get a late start on the turkeys, but it will certainly be worth it! And you'll be gaining a future hunting companion.

My spring seasons are hit and miss as well. I seem to connect every other year. I have confidence you'll pull it off.

Chaplain for the Outdoor Community said...

Congratulations on the new baby. We'll be praying for you guys. I agree with @heyBJK, you get and new hunt'n buddy.

This is my first spring Turkey season in Southern California... public land hunt... San Bernadino National Forest. Not exactly sure where to start so I have a call into the Forest Service. Hoping for a good lead on where I might scout some birds before opening weekend which is the last weekend in March.

turkey decoy said...

Good luck with the baby- I am filming some at www.bestturkeydecoy.com and will try keep you in the loop!

Grant Carmichael said...

Nice article and good luck with the little one!


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