Hunting smarter this turkey season
I mowed the lawn yesterday, which on the surface is pretty unremarkable. But toss in the fact it's spring gobbler season, a time when household duties, proper diet and, at times, even personal hygiene take a back seat to pursuing longbeards and my turkey-hunting friends were stunned. In a typical spring, I'm often accused of trying to create nesting habitat in our yard as the grass rises to levels well above U.S. Open-type rough and more suitable for flushing pheasants.
But on this Saturday, I worked around the house instead of heading to the woods on the second weekend of the New York – and Pennsylvania – spring gobbler seasons. It was a move designed to let the weekend warriors have one last go before the "real" turkey hunters – those who continue to arise in the middle of the night, don't manufacture excuses to roll over and go back to sleep, and know there's plenty of good hunting left – take control of the turkey woods.
Too, I've admittedly reached that age where I've lost a bit on my turkey-hunting fastball. My intensity is still there, but the body is sometimes unwilling. That old Toby Keith song, "I Ain't As Good As I Once Was" definitely applies here, particularly after three straight days of hard hunting. Mix it in with work duties and it's easy to run the gas tank dry.
So I now hunt smarter, picking my spots instead of relentlessly pursuing gobblers until I crash and burn. Instead, I choose my hunting times and locations carefully, making sure the energy level remains fairly constant, with the help of an afternoon nap. Back-to-back morning outings still occur if I feel the birds are heating up, but more often than not these days my early-morning session is followed by a mid-morning hunt the following day. It's really not a problem: I've probably killed as many toms after 9:30 a.m. as I have before 7.
This strategy – like an old baseball pitcher who has shifted from his high hard one to tossing junk and painting the corners – carries me through the season with ease, and it hasn't impacted my success afield. Along the way, it has allowed me to maintain steady employment, which is nice.
So yesterday, I mowed. Today, I work. Tomorrow, I'll hunt early. And the next day, step out at mid-morning, when I'll almost assuredly have the woods to myself. And we're reaching the stage of the season where, when you meet another camo-clad hunter out there, he's a guy you don't mind running into. A real turkey hunter.
Hopefully, I won't have to mow the lawn again until early June.