Still hoping to prove that Pennsylvania turkey woods are far from empty

So let’s face it … the gobbler hunting has been less than spectacular thus far — at least in my neck of the turkey woods. For a hunter who has only been able to hunt rainy Saturday mornings, mostly on highly pressured, southeastern Pennsylvania public lands, the birds have remained tight-lipped and uncooperative — even several miles back into the thick of things.

Sure, hunters have been killing plenty of birds, but most I know of were taken mid-week under pleasant, blue-sky days when I was stuck at work, becoming all the more bitter and disgruntled with the crummy weekend weather and my inability to “call in sick” during a busy end to the school year.

It is what it is. I heard exactly two gobbles opening morning: one was followed 10 minutes later by a shotgun blast in the nearby vicinity, and the other (barely audible) came from far across a valley landlocked by three consecutive tracts of private ground. Untouchable. I stuck it out anyway, but nothing showed.

My backup 10-to-noon option proved fruitless as well, despite my very best efforts to drum up the interest of a late-morning bachelor.

Last weekend, I toyed back-and-forth with a hen for two-and-a-half hours, but never heard a male counterpart if one did happen to be with her. She didn’t seem to fancy crossing the hollow to my side of the posters either. I eventually got fed up with the cat-and-mouse game and tried a new location.

As I put on the miles, the wind and rain kicked up, leaving me soggy and beaten. I found a secluded scratch zone and sat tight for an hour or so, calling sporadically, but nothing came of it. Quitting time arrived without a single gobble for the day.

When I look at the pending forecast for this Saturday, I can’t help but cringe. Rain is scheduled to wallop us yet again, which doesn’t improve my odds for success. But I’ll still venture out and give it my best fighting effort anyway, rain or shine, because I certainly won’t kill a bird from the house.

Besides, my “unsuccessful” hunts weren’t total failures when I force myself to view the glass half full instead of settling for the alternative. I learned some new territory, marked a few potential deer locations on my GPS and saw some pretty cool sights.

I witnessed two beautiful sunrises and counted more than 100 red efts (juvenile red-spotted newts) just chilling along a saturated logging road. Plus, I encountered a three-legged deer, a raccoon scurried past me at dawn, and I spotted an osprey flying overhead with a fresh trout wriggling in its talons.

I was even treated to the glorious sight of a giant long-beard crossing the road in front of my truck on the way home from hunting all morning. Of course, it was after quitting time, and boy did he know how to slink around and rub it in!

If I had stayed home and cursed the weather (or the birds), I wouldn’t have been afforded any of these unique experiences in the great outdoors. So I might as well pull on a rain jacket, brave the elements, and curse the weather (or the birds) out on the mountain — because one never knows what he might luck into when planted at the right place at the right time.

Who knows, perhaps a wet, stinky, tight-lipped tom will saunter past my hideout and make all my whining and complaining worth it. At least he’ll die an honorable death knowing he put this hopeful weekend warrior through the ringer, proving the Pennsylvania turkey woods are still far from empty.

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