Spring gobbler season a real head-scratcher

Steve PiattMy 2013 spring gobbler season ended not with a bang last Friday morning, but with a whimper. Well, at least a yawn. Fully convinced the gobblers were not planted in my traditional hunting spots, I got up briefly, looked outside at about 4:15 a.m., and decided I had plenty of other things to do that morning.

And I went back to bed for a couple hours.

I've never been one to beat my head against the wall. Instead of saying, "it hurts when I do this," I simply stop doing that.

That's pretty much what I did in the final week of the spring gobbler season this year. Paula and I did take a couple last shots, one early and another at mid-morning, but it just wasn't happening. So we grabbed our fly rods instead and, I'm happy to report, it has been happening on that front.

This season was, on many levels, a frustrating one, even after a fast start when I tagged a nice 3-year-old gobbler on the second day of the New York season.

The lowlight, at least as far as harvesting birds, was a weeklong Kansas trip where the Rios gave Paula and I the slip at every turn. There was no shortage of birds – including hens – and plenty of gobbling activity, but it just didn't happen. Beautiful country, the weather was good, but the week was filled with close calls and hens that led the gobblers away from our setups at every turn.

Across New York, I've been hearing similar stories. Usually I chalk a lot of those comments up to guys who simply won't change tactics or haven't put the time in, day in and day out, in an effort to tag a tom. But when I hear it from Quaker Boy turkey-hunting guru Ernie Calandrelli, whose Facebook posts chronicled his own head-scratching season, I tend to sit up and take notice.

In the Southern Tier, some other talented turkey-hunting buddies I know experienced similar frustrations. Sure, there were successes out there, but it seemed this spring there was a lot of unfilled tags. I don't know the reason; maybe our hunting pressure, combined with the numerous predators out there on the landscape, has created a highly skeptical breed of gobbler that's reluctant to come to a call.

Anyway, I'll be interested in seeing this spring's harvest figures, which won't likely be compiled by the DEC until later this year. I will say we're ankle-deep in pictures of smiling kids with their birds taken during the youth season, and I'm happy to see that. I hope other hunters feel the same way about the youth offering, but I suspect there will be renewed calls for an earlier opener to the New York spring gobbler season.

All I know for sure is a lot of good turkey hunters were left scratching their heads this spring.

Categories: New York – Steve Piatt

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