Hens are still calling the shots for Pennsylvania toms
I returned to the vastness of Tioga County Canyon country this past week hoping to score a tom turkey from any spot they may be roaming within the enormity of public woodlands that shape this area.
The week started with some rain in the darkness of early Monday morning. Choosing to not venture into wet woods I waited for the rain to stop, which it did by 6 a.m. By 6:30 I was driving over the top of a mountain along the single dirt road that crosses the huge expanse of state forest this place is, toward a spot I intended to hunt.
About a half mile from where I planned to stop three turkeys stood on the road a good 100 yards from where I was. They quickly flew into trees sitting beside the road. I stopped my truck, reached for my binoculars to see if they were male or female, and watched them fly in different directions before I could determine their sex. I parked near where they had stood and ventured along a ridge to the side of where two of the birds headed. I sat for two hours occasionally calling softly with some yelps and clucks. Ravens, crows and an assortment of song birds eagerly joined my turkey talk, but never a real turkey.
I then drove to the spot I intended to first hunt and sat calling for two more hours. Nothing. Now close to 11 a.m., I headed off the mountain to return to camp. At the bottom of the huge hill where the road parallels private property, a single big gobbler with a long dangling beard was busy scratching in some upturned dirt along with five hens. That’s not a misprint. It was five lady companions with this big old boy.
My camera sat aside me, which I grabbed and pushed the button to turn on. Except it did not respond. The battery was not charged, and in my eagerness to leave home I never checked for that possibility. I apologize for that stupidly because the photo would have been good viewing.
All week was much of the same. Along dirt roads, in open fields and especially newly plowed fields, I saw turkeys The majority were hens, and in most cases there were at least two of the gals. For the week I identified three gobblers and one jake. One of the gobblers flew from a logging road on the mountain I was hunting. The next morning I was on that road in darkness with a hen decoy. For two and a half hours I sat hidden, a hodgepodge of flies and mosquitoes buzzing my head and exposed skin, but never a gobble or sneaking bird.
On one morning hunt I heard what I thought may have been two gobbles from a roosted bird, but I’m not certain of that because they were so distant. All week not a single bird of either sex came into my vision when I was hunting. The birds I did see were in traveling from one hunting spot to another. It seems that live hens are controlling any interest the guys may have in companionship.
Not all was lost, however.
Big Pine Creek offered outstanding trout fishing all week. Running a bit high, but clear and cold, trout were active anytime of day. Bugs on the surface were few, and rises almost non-existent, but nymph patterns and various streamers along the bottom were attacked often by the hungry fish. With the plentiful rainfall, and some cooler temperatures, this stream should offer excellent trout angling well into June.
Another great week in upstate Pennsylvania, and anyone can come.