Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
It’s mid-March, and the days are getting long. In spite of the fact that our North Iowa woodlands remain snow covered and spring turkey seasons are still nearly a month in the offing; I couldn’t resist getting out into the timber this weekend. Glad I did.
Saturday morning was certainly no disappointment. Right on cue, and without any extra encouragement from me, multiple gobblers began sounding off at first light. When I had taken to this exact same woods a week earlier, turkeys were reluctant to answer the call and a couple of weak responses were all I got for my predawn efforts. But this Saturday was much different. As I worked the call, nearly every series of yelps was immediately cut short by a raucous string of gobbling. After the birds had been out of the trees for a time, I finally spotted three or four hens scratching around through the crunchy snow. A bit later, I spotted two strutting jakes with some hens. Ten minutes later, I was able to see what I had really come for — a group of magnificent, puffed out, strutting toms. The birds were occupying the highest point of the ridgeline and, of course, they refused to budge. But even at a distance, the show was impressive and I was able to count a total of five fans; one jake and four mature gobblers.
I kept calling; the gobblers kept answering. Nothing changed, and the snow was too crunchy and the birds too close for me to attempt an undetected move. Just about the time I was thinking about packing it in, the gobblers decided to move. Although the turkeys weren’t exactly running in my direction, they weren’t wasting any time either. Nearing my position, the toms suddenly halted and began rocking the woods with a raucous, nonstop Gobble-Fest. There was no wind. Switching to video, I was able to capture some great sound as the birds continued the early morning show. Some hens trotted over to investigate the noise. Before long, the hens got restless and led the spring assembly deeper into the woods. Although the flock was soon lost to view, I could still hear the gobblers sounding off as they made their way through the woodland.