Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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‘Next year’ for spring gobblers and morels

We’re now well into June and spring gobbler season is long gone. I’ve cleaned my gun and hung up my turkey vest, at least until the fall. After missing the entire 2016 spring season due to a double knee replacement, I was excited to be back in the woods this year. The birds were there, but at the risk of overstating the obvious, rain ruined a good part of the season. Here in the Southern Tier we got over 6 inches of precipitation in May and it cut into the time spent in the woods for many hunters, especially those who only had weekends to hunt.

To make matters worse, it seemed the birds weren’t “henned up” but rather were “gobbled up.” I spotted bachelor groups of three or more adult toms and groups of five or more jakes more than once this last season. Hen calls did nothing to entice them and, in fact, it seemed once they heard a hen yelp they simply walked off in a different direction.

Birds would gobble on the roost and then fly to the middle of one of three large fields where heavy brush allowed me to watch them feed and to hear an occasional gobble. Throw a hen cluck or yelp at them and they would simply walk away.

Frustrating to be sure. If there’s comfort in misery, I knew others were encountering the same conditions, because other than opening day, I can safely state I did not hear a shot all season. Not one. I know guys who got birds, but it was the first few days of the season and then nothing.

I’ve hunted spring turkeys ever since there was a spring season in both Pennsylvania and New York, but this one had me baffled. I’m not complaining, though. I now have two good knees and I got out just about every day it didn’t rain. Who could ask for more?

While I’m thinking about it, the turkeys weren’t the only things that eluded me this past May. I fancy myself as somewhat of a mushroom hunter and love hunting the hen-of-the-woods and honey mushroom or potpinki in the fall.

Each spring, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to find a patch of morel mushrooms. I’ve never had any success, and this year was no exception. I’ve read volumes as to where morels might be found, but try as I might, I just couldn’t find any. I looked around large oaks, I looked around apple trees, I looked around live elms and I looked around dying elms. I looked around large white pines and I looked around old beech and oak stumps. I looked in damp, open woods near large oak, beech and tulip trees and still came up empty.

I’m told that, in Michigan, there is a morel festival, and at the sound of a gun, people rush to collect as many morels as possible. The record for one person I’m told is 900, and I can’t find even one. Maybe next year.

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