Spring gobbler season around the corner

By Shirley Grenoble

For the Mirror

Soon several opening days will — for spring gobbler hunters — end a dreary winter season.

Youth hunting season begins April 24 with the statewide season opening on May 1. If you have forgotten to send for the bonus spring turkey license, the deadline for doing so is April 30.

I have heard from many parts of the state that gobblers are talking heartily and scouters are seeing lots of turkeys. This really is music to the hunter’s ears because last year’s spring season was a real dud for many of us, including me.

Last season, it was tough to even hear a turkey gobbing much less lure it into gun range. The birds seemed to have lockjaw and there was little you could do to call one to you.

My hunting buddy, Joanie Haidle, and I had a unique experience fairly early during last year’s season. We drove to what has over the years been a hot spot for us, many birds taken there, and got all set up.

We were as excited and hopeful as we probably have ever been. We weren’t there long before turkeys began to pour into that big field. The mix was complete. Longbeards, Jakes, hens all feeding and sauntering around the field but not one ever let out so much as a cluck! There was no strutting. no vocalization, decoys were ignored, and Joanie’s superb, unmatched soft calling also totally ignored.

There were 25-30 turkeys in that bunch and nothing would cause them to respond in any way.

After the season everyone had an opinion as to why this statewide phenomena had occurred and whose fault it was and what to do about it. As Joanie and I watched the floor show that gang of birds showed us for over half an hour, we decided that there were just too many hens available. They didn’t have to gobble to attract hens and they didn’t. We decided then and there that come fall, we would both be gunning for hens. Which we did.

So every gobbler hunter will be holding his breath to see whether gobblers are going to sound off or if we will have a repeat of last year. Surely that same hex can’t be on the season again, can it?

May I remind you that a small telescoping umbrella can be one of the most helpful accessories you can carry with you on a gobbler hunt.

You can hold it over your head if a shower breaks out. Mostly, however, I have found the small umbrella to be a terrific portable blind.

Just open it up, set it down in front of your feet and you’ll be surprised at how well it covers you. You’ll need to anchor it as a strong breeze will blow it away. I park my backpack on the inside handle for weight and it works wonderfully.

Be sure to select an umbrella with woodsy colors: brown, black, green and sometimes you can find camo umbrellas. Reject anything too shiny.

Practice your mouth calls, not to sound like the latest contest champion but making soft come-hither whines and purrs, calls that coax a stubborn gobbler to come see if the promises you are making will pan out.

He’s liable to sneak in quietly so be still as a statue, alert as a sentry and patient as a saint.


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