For so many years now I’ve headed to camp in Tioga County the first week of spring gobbler season to hunt the mornings for romantic toms, and fly-fish Big Pine Creek during afternoons and evenings for hard-hitting trout.
The week is always special, due not only to the thought of tempting a long-bearded gobbler into range and rising fish, but also the experience of changing seasons with warmer days and a late setting sun.
I did not harvest a turkey last week, although I heard plenty of gobbles. The birds just would not respond to my calling. On the other hand, another camp member had a different experience.
Joe had only shot one turkey before in all of his hunting days, and that was a few years back during the fall season. Another member had called the bird into gun range for him. But the first Saturday of this season he was set to hunt by himself, and do his own calling.
He left camp in the dark, like another member and myself, and headed to a “good" spot. Two turkeys gobbled early and often, that Joe could hear. When the gobbling stopped, he assumed the birds were now on the ground, and he called a little with a diaphragm device.
He heard nothing, moved about 50 yards further into the woods and called once more. Admitting that he is both new to and poor at calling, he yelped lightly and sparingly once again. He then closed his eyes for a few moments.
When he opened his eyes a little later he saw the red head of an approaching gobbler. When the bird cleared some trees at about 30 yards, a nervous Joe flattened a love-struck tom that carried a 10 1/2-inch beard, and 3/4-inch spurs.
A little lesson here; it’s not the calling that sounds good to people, but rather the calls that sound good to the turkeys.
As for the trout fishing, it was exceptional. Perhaps because the days saw some warm temperatures that usually occur a little later upstate, plus the fact that rain has been a bit scarce recently and the Big Pine flowed at a late-spring level, hatches were full-bore and long lasting.
I caught so many fat rainbows by drifting mayflies with both grayish and light green bodies, that I lost count. I do not want to give the impression the fish were easy – they could be selective at times – but enough hooked-up to make every outing both challenging and fun.
Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon is one of this state's furthermost outdoor resources. It is enriched with vast areas of public land. It is home to a large stream with a western feel that can be accessed by hiking, bike riding or watercraft drifting. Just being in the canyon gives an overall sensation of clean open space with little human intrusion.
If you’ve never been there, you don’t know what you’re missing.