Dogwood days of turkey hunting
In terms of turkey hunting, to say this has been an unusual spring is putting things mildly. In the past 45 years I’ve never seen the woods so quiet. As this is written near the end of the second week of May, I’ve yet to hear a bird gobble in New York state. In Pennsylvania, where I also hunt, the birds have been vocal on the roost on some but not all days then the woods are as quiet as a graveyard for the rest of the morning. I know I’m not the only hunter enduring a silent spring because I have yet to hear a gunshot in New York and I’ve heard only one in Pennsylvania.
The birds are there, I know for sure. I’ve found several dusting sites, seen three longbeards and managed to call in seven jakes on different mornings, but not one made a peep. With things so quiet I fully expect to catch a gobbler trying to sneak up on me, but so far not a single adult tom has shown his face or head. I have noticed, however, the few dogwood trees that haven’t succumbed to the anthracnose that has killed off thousands of others are in bloom and in my eyes this spells death to my turkey-hunting success.
So what, you say? What does blooming dogwood have to do with turkey hunting? Everything, I say, because in 45 years of hunting spring turkeys I have never, ever killed a bird while the dogwood was blooming. I’ve killed them before it bloomed and in the weeks after it bloomed but I’ve never killed one while the dogwood was in full flower. Every year I say this is the year. This is the year I disprove my longstanding theory, but like Charlie Brown trying to win a ball game, it never happens. Don’t get me wrong; I love dogwood and I’ve had one in my yard for over 30 years, but for me, at least, the blooming dogwood is a certain sign that the next few weeks will be long, quiet and devoid of turkeys. I can’t speak for others, but for me at least, the blooming dogwood is death and the turkeys are safe.
Okay, put your pens down. I know there must be hundreds if not thousands of turkey hunters out there saying the blooming dogwood has nothing to do with killing a turkey and they’ve done it dozens of times. In fact, some of you might be smugly saying you can’t wait for the dogwood to bloom because it is the best part of the season. Oh yeah, maybe so, and perhaps thousands of turkeys have met their maker while blooming dogwood covered the hills, but it was never I who was able to outfox an adult tom when the dogwood was blooming. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, but nevertheless, I keep going and hoping this year will be different. But so far nothing has changed.