Pennsylvania gobblers difficult when locked in with real girlfriends
I headed north to camp in Tioga County for my annual clash with Pennsylvania’s male turkeys the Friday before the season opened.
It’s always a week-long stay, with the added attraction of fly-fishing the Big Pine Creek during afternoon and evening periods.
Rains a day before my arrival had the Pine flowing high and murky. Besides that disappointing condition of usually excellent trout waters, the aftermath of the passing storm was formed with high winds and cloudy skies as late as Saturday morning when spring gobbler season began.
The morning was quiet-for turkey talk. In my parts of the woods, strong gusts of wind rattling branches against each others, and new forming leaves rustling strongly being the loudest noise. A friend, however, did hear a couple of early gobbles from a nearby roosted bird, although nothing came of that as the morning moved on.
That afternoon the sky became clear blue with bright sunshine as the winds died. The same friend and I took an afternoon drive to look at some of the farmland that skirts a lower section of the vast and massive Tioga State Forest land we hunt. The above photo shows what we expected to see, gobblers showing their stuff to nearby lady friends, well out of harm’s way, consumed with their role of becoming prospective mates.
Sunday fishing was poor, but Monday morning brought some gobbling from a roosted bird. When his couple of gobbles stopped, I waited a few moments and then walked a couple hundred yards to sit closer to where he gobbled and begin calling. Three hours of sporadic clucks and purrs, along with some mild yelps, produced nothing.
Tuesday morning at a different spot, opened with another gobbler singing from his roost. My hopes rose that maybe this was a bird I could entice into shooting range, but 15 minutes after that first gobble two hunters edged past me in the gobbler’s direction. They never saw me and I allowed them to pass. After they were out of sight, I moved and hunted for three hours in the opposite direction.
I never heard a shot, but when I left the woods I found a truck was parked beside mine, so the occupant(s) knew I was somewhere nearby. Hunting ethics are often pushed aside by many, but I always attempt to pursue a higher ground.
The week went on with some cold and rainy days. I never heard another gobble, but often saw hens and toms on the farmland of the mountain bottom when leaving the hill. My friend however, did indeed hear more gobbles during the week, but he swore not a single turkey gobbled in response to his calling, assuming they were simply alerting nearby hens and other males that he was awake and wanted company.
So the week ended without a shot fired, the big birds contented with the company they were already sharing. The trout weren’t very responsive either, cold and high water seemingly to blame. But just to see all those birds, knowing they had survived a really hard winter was a reward in itself. And armed with the knowledge that many of those trout that refused my offerings this trip, will still swim the Big Pine when my next excursion north comes about, and may well hit just about any fly I cast toward them, brings about a pleased and joyful thought.
So you gobbling guys hang with your girlfriends for now, because they’ll leave you soon enough, and you may then welcome my company. And for those trout not real hungry at the moment nor feeling active, you will be in a few week’s time — and I will be back.