As I write this, the clock is ticking on another spring gobbler season.
We've reached that time when we're pretty much exhausted from arising at 4 a.m. or earlier and hitting the woods in search of a cooperative longbeard. Some of our buddies have already tagged out. We're happy for them, and a bit envious. And we wonder when, or if, our opportunity will materialize one spring morning.
Some hunters will look at those who have filled their tags and think, "those guys are good."
Well, yes and no.
I've had many years where I've filled both New York tags (no, not this year), but I don't consider myself a great turkey hunter by any means.
While others turn off the alarm clock, roll over and go back to sleep, I arise without the need for an alarm, ready to hit the woods each May morning. This year, travel and work duties have gotten in the way of my typical intense pursuit. And it has showed; although I've had some good hunts and close encounters, I've yet to fill a tag.
But it could happen if my work duties don't interfere too much as the season winds down. Because while there are certainly some outstanding hunters out there, more often than not birds are harvested by those who simply refuse to quit and don't shut it down for the season with excuses like "it's over" or "they're henned up" or "they're pressured now" or "they've all been shot in my area."
Over the years I've been one of those hunters who has killed scores of birds – in five different decades now – simply because I was the one who donned the camouflage and headed out the door ahead of the sunrise and was out there when the gobbler was ready to play. Ready to die, actually.
You can be one of those hunters, too. All you have to do is keep hunting, keep believing. And maybe alter your game plan, but only slightly.
Typically during the late season I forego the use of decoys, with the theory that some birds have, in fact, been hunted and have seen their share of hen, jake and strutter decoys.
I tone down my calling substantially, usually limiting my effort to a few light yelps or clucks and purrs. Sometimes nothing more than raking the leaves to simulate a feeding turkey.