The window in my office is open, allowing the warm near-spring air to blow through the curtains. The crows are yakkin’ up a storm in the distance, still I can hear the finches, nuthatches and cardinals all tuning their “songs of spring” on the feeders in the yard. All the guys at BWB are talking turkey hunting. Heck, where they been? I’ve been tuning my friction calls for a month now, got a mouth call in all the time (my Honey loves that) and at least once a day, I go looking for a wintering flock of turkeys, so I can hear them yelp and gobble. Yes, I might induce some of the vocalizations, but I just can’t help myself. Yes, this crusty old fart is READY for turkey season 2011!!
It looks like this coming season will be busy, busy as the BWB team will be yelpin’ and purring across New England filming the last rites of many-a-longbeard. Everybody that reads this, please checkout the BWB youth turkey hunt sponsored by Remington, Quaker Boy and others coming up this spring. Encourage any youth hunter you know to write the needed essay and submit to the BWB team. If they get drawn, they are in for a great time. The BWB pro-staffers are pumped and ready to chase some three-toed-tommies. The winners also get some cool stuff like turkey calls, hats and they get meet Hal Blood and the rest of the BWB staff. They better bring their laughing face, because there’s never a dull moment around this outfit. I can’t wait !!
We can get back to the task at hand, turkey season. Any time a new season stalks before us, we seem to always be prepared, but never really. Can you relate to this? I hope I’m not the only one. Problem being, there’s just so much that comes with the word: preparing. In the next several paragraphs, I will explain how I plan for turkey season.
Around the first of February, I start to get the spring catalogs from the 376 call companies, retail outfitters and chain stores of America that I have obviously bought something from at one time. I have no complaints, as I thumb through all issues and never buy a thing. This savor has a reason. It gets the first slight surge of gobbler adrenaline pumping through my fat, limping old body. I’m some how transformed from a cabin fevered, coyote hunting, bored old man to this call scratching, decoy repairing, energized young turkey hunter counting the days until the OPENER !!!
The vest gets pulled from the coat rack in the garage, as this is always a mystery. A whole season of loose calls, candy wrappers and treasures found in the woods fill the pockets. Take everything out, and turn the pockets inside out. A quick vacuum has been needed at times. All the calls are reevaluated for productivity and like. Then it is cleaned, tuned and set aside or discarded. When discarding calls their value, both sentimental and dollar must be examined. If it’s a call made and signed by the late Dick Kirby that has killed several longbeards, it goes in my glass case never to be used again. If it’s a lousy sounding slate call from the bargain bin at Wal-Mart, the kids get it. Most diaphragms found can be tossed as they are dried out and obviously didn’t impress me much anyway. Now, the old reliables are placed back in the vest in the proper pockets, along with any new calls or tools acquired over the off-season. All mouth-calls will kept in the fridge until opening morning. The vest is ready for 2011. This process takes about one month.
All camo clothing must be repaired and cleaned. Barbed wire, raspberry patches and being a clumsy guy in the woods means my pants, shirts and boots take a beating. Most my pants have rips and I go through a pair of boots a year. I’m a penny-pinching outdoorsmen, but some things you just got to buy the best, because you need the best. Myself and the rest of the BWB guys spend about 200 days a year in boots, so cheap and wet don’t cut it. Only rubber boots should be worn when turkey hunting. Nothing else.
By the time the above choirs are complete and we watched a hundred turkey hunting shows, it time to get out and do some field work. Most importantly, I check back with my landowners. Though I’ve hunted some farms and woodlots for over 40 years, I still ask permission. This keeps my relation with the landowner updated and I can go onto his land with confidence come hunting season. I also use the preseason to scout new areas and meet new landowners. I’ve always got my eye on new places to hunt. We have so many turkeys in Maine, they spread to new areas all the time.
Now, it’s time to get in the woods and find turkeys. Scouting for turkey’s usually starts when the snow has melted and the fields have started to dry. April 1st for me, but scouting around the 2nd week of April will tell a hunter more. There’s no need to call at the birds while scouting. You see them you hear them, that’s all you need to know. Yes, I’ll occasionally call to preseason turkeys, but I’m smart about it. Don’t mess with the birds you plan on hunting. There are plenty of roadside birds that hunters can play with. Just like the 50 other folks that ride by them every day.
Scouting for turkeys is one of favorite times of the hunting year. I love to get on a high point, overlooking long pastures and oak ridges before sunrise. Sitting against a big tree, the world awakes before me. A barn rooster in the distance wakes all within his domain. The gobblers stay quiet until induced by owls, crows or lonely hens. Yes, it’s now we are prepared for the upcoming season and only now…