No late-season gobbler, but….
After tagging a big gobbler on opening morning (May 1) of this year’s spring turkey season, I figured the second tag would be filled in no time. Despite plenty of pre-season talk about lower turkey populations – here and everywhere else – I had good reasons for my optimism.
Pre-season scouting turned up gobblers at two of my three main hunting spots and I was looking forward to the early part of the season, which is my favorite time to hunt. In fact, I break the season into three, 10-day mini-seasons and that first week or so of May was fantastic. Every morning I engaged with gobblers and had a few close calls, including one tom a that I let walk (run) away from my set-up toward a pair of live hens on the second day of the season.
But the next stage, which was mid-May, didn’t go so well. Hot weather moved in and the trees foliated nearly overnight. The birds, meanwhile, disappeared and I can’t really say where they went or why, they were just gone, or at least were not gobbling or revealing themselves, and that included hens.
At one location there are other hunters who have permission to hunt the property and they tagged a few birds. And one of my favorite public land spots got hit hard early on as well. I spent over two weeks of hunting, four-to-five mornings, a week without hearing a single gobble. It was getting frustrating.
Then, over Memorial Day weekend things picked up, sort-of. I got a couple of tom’s going one morning on a small tract of public land. Although I got them to come pretty far from the adjacent private land, they wouldn’t cross a busy main road.
The next morning I took a young hunter with me to one of our Adirondack deer hunting haunts where I had spotted a few gobblers in April. One was still there and we engaged him for over three hours and he just wouldn’t commit. Although no shots were fired on those hunts, it just felt good to be working gobblers again. For that, and my opening day success, I must feel fortunate as some hunters I heard from had very little action this entire spring.
But all is not lost and I have some fond memories to take from this spring season. The biggest highlight may be the bobcat that snuck into my set-up about a week into the season. And, I observed a woodcock on two occasions, including the final morning of the season. Seeing these critters are rare occurrences for me. Along the way, I kept track of the ruffed grouse I heard drumming or saw, and will send a report to DEC very soon. You can also do that here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/grousedrum22.pdf
As for turkeys, I bid them farewell until fall. Now I can sleep in!