Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
I’m thinkin’ that this morning’s kickoff to the 2014 Spring Turkey Season wasn’t exactly what area hunters had in mind. With heavy overcast, below freezing temperatures, a blanket of new snow on the ground, and winds gusting to 38 mph; the prognoses seemed bleak. But it was still Opening Day after all, and no turkey hunter in his right mind could possibly consider staying in.
Arriving in the woodlands well before daylight, I looked for a place out of the wind. There wasn’t such a spot — anywhere. I finally decided on a small, 40-foot-wide clearing. Popping up the Double Bull, I set out one DSD jake and climbed inside. After pulling two arrows from the quiver, I settled down for what I figured would be an uneventful morning. Daylight approached and, if anything, the wind increased. By now, the treetops were absolutely roaring. As the gray skies grew lighter, I spotted what I thought was a roosted turkey about 50 yards distant. It was a turkey and before long I had spotted four others. In no hurry to get their toes cold, the first birds didn’t come off the roost until 6:12. Shortly after, I heard a hen cut loose with a couple of yelps and she was immediately answered by a gobble. I cranked up my call and the gobbler also answered it. Less than a minute later I called again. This time, the tom cut me off with a double double that had already closed the gap by 50 percent. I saw movement, and here came a surprise trio of jakes – closing fast. At 15 yards, the jakes halted to hold a pow-wow. When I called again, the gobbler sounded off at a distance of 30 yards or less. The tom suddenly loomed into view. Like the jakes, the gobbler was wasting no time on the way in. Arriving at the jakes, he stopped to strut. For the next 10 minutes nothing changed; the jakes stood and looked while the tom strutted back and forth nearby. Although the light still wasn’t great, there was almost enough for a shot — assuming I’d get one. A couple more hens cranked up to my right and the gobbler moved to investigate. The jakes stayed put like they were nailed to the ground.
Turkeys kept coming off the roost, and hens were still gliding down at 7 o’clock. All told, eight of those hens came to within 5 yards or less of my decoy. The jakes suddenly started chasing each other around, and the sparring took them farther into the woods. Two mature gobblers suddenly appeared at 35 yards but, of course, they were more interested in all of the hens moving around than they were in walking up to me — go figure. By mid-morning, all birds had disappeared. I was getting hungry and decided that it would be a good time to slip out and fix some flapjacks. Sounds like the chill is going to last for awhile. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be a few degrees colder than today. If so, I’m going to seriously consider digging out the Long Johns.