Way ahead of the game
I took a ride last week to get some fresh eggs from the farmer whose land I hunt and found him in the milkhouse finishing up milking chores.
“How do you like the weather?" he asked
“Couldn’t be better,” I replied.
“We’re at least a month ahead of ourselves so far this spring and I’ve got a lot more done than I ever have,” he said.
I was happy for him because I’ve talked to him in past years when the weather was far less cooperative. Snow and heavy rain were the usual companions coming with the month of March, but not this year. This year it seems just about everyone is happy the jetstream, which is responsible for a lot of our cold temperatures, has remained so far north.
“Seen any turkeys?” I asked.
“Nope, not one,” he said. “I usually see them by the dozens when I’m spreading manure in the top field, but this year they seem to be scarce. My son set out a trail camera over a dead deer carcass next to the pasture up on the hill and he’s gotten pictures of fisher, coyotes and several foxes, but no turkeys."
His not seeing turkeys didn’t bother me too much since the winter has been so mild. Without a lot of snow on the ground, this year the turkeys didn’t have to follow the manure spreader for their so-called “hot lunch.” I was optimistic the big birds were perfectly happy in the timber, picking cherry pits and beechnuts and maybe even an acorn or two. Anyone hunting these birds last spring can tell you the weather was miserable for most of May and then after the season into June. Rain and then more rain fell and the wet weather was undoubtedly responsible for the death of many young turkey poults. Last fall, during archery season, I saw only a few turkeys feeding in a cut corn field where in previous seasons there would be flocks of 50 or more.
With turkey numbers down somewhat from previous years I'm nevertheless optimistic about the type of spring season we could expect. I think this year toms may actually have to gobble to find a hen rather than sit and wait for one to pitch from the tree before hitting the ground. Wouldn’t that be fun? The unseasonably warm weather we’ve had for the past three or four weeks may affect hunting conditions in May because turkey mating and subsequently nesting could be way ahead of previous seasons. I can only hope being a month ahead of ourselves doesn’t have too much of an impact come May 1.