Spring gobbler season: Poor, or just different?
I'll be even more interested than usual this year to get New York's spring gobbler harvest figures, although for reasons I've never fully understood those statistics come much more slowly than the state's deer and bear kill numbers.
But this spring, in the eyes of many gobbler chasers, seemed to be a challenging one. Some very good turkey hunters I know did a lot more whining than usual, lamenting a lack of gobbling, especially after flydown.
My own spring was a bit unusual in that while there seemed to be plenty of birds around, they weren't in some of my go-to spots of the past. Paula and I each tagged one longbeard and worked a few others into stalemates, but there's no question we weren't into the numbers birds as we've been in past seasons. Still, I wouldn't call it a poor season by any stretch. Just different.
Other turkey hunters gave the season much harsher reviews. And the general feeling was that the early warmup we had triggered a lot of breeding activity that ultimately led to slower periods of gobbling and fewer cooperative toms during the season.
I'm not a biologist, but I'm not sure that was entirely the case. It seems that every spring I hear those "it's over" declarations from frustrated hunters, or at least those who are looking for a semi-legitimate excuse to sleep in. And for every hunter who's out there struggling, I hear stories of those who tagged longbeards right up to the last day of the season.
That was the case again this year. But it remains to be seen what the overall harvest looks like and what biologists have to say about the factors that played into the total statewide kill.
Right now, with the season over, I'm back in the office catching up on a pile of work. I've re-joined society by appearing during regular hours, sleeping at normal times and wearing something other than Mossy Oak.
And I'm rooting for a good nesting season for the hens, something New York – which has seen its spring gobbler kill plummet in recent years – desperately needs. If we get a couple good production years in a row, my guess is a lot of those frustrated hunters won't be quite as frustrated.