Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: Hunters seek turkeys

by on April 30, 2013 10:40 AM

The opening day of spring gobbler had hunters out in force, with a few even managing to fill their tag.

Those who were unsuccessful either were outwitted by their quarry or experienced interference from other hunters. After Sunday, one would have thought that the woods would have settled down some, but the hunters I spoke with never heard a gobble on Monday.

Despite the frustration that revolves around the opening week, it takes only one gobble to erase all of the prior mishaps. In the weeks to come, hunting pressure will steadily decline, and most weekdays should allow for uninhibited hunting.

The recent rains should have birds visible in the plowed fields, although a 160-mile trip to St. Marys on Monday yielded zero turkey sightings. Luckily, the spring gobbler season is nearly a month long, giving ample opportunity to battle wits with long beards and jakes alike.

I hope I will be able to get out into the spring woods and enjoy the sights sounds and smells, which is undoubtedly why so many enjoy hunting spring gobbler. Waiting for the sun to rise from a ridgetop and hearing the woods wake up is something many never experience, and it’s something hunters at times take for granted.

With the full moon now past and the forest canopy continuing to develop, it will become easier to move in on a vocal tom. While it is easy to give a turkey credit for being smart, in most instances it is just the skittish nature of the bird combined with being used to the hen coming to him. A responding gobbler often will hang up on terrain or barrier and begin to strut, assuming the hen will close the distance.

Hunting with a partner can allow for the shooter to be ahead of the caller and put him or her in better position. In unfamiliar terrain, creeks, fences, downed trees and at times even a shadow can stop a gobbler from coming to the hunter’s calls.

While it is early in the season, it already appears the gobbling is beginning to decline, with many of the jakes staying tight-lipped after a few beat-downs from the boss gobbler. While hearing a bird come in screaming is what most hope for, having a silent one come sneaking in to a set up can end just as well.

Unfortunately, when a gobbler slips in unannounced, it can be difficult to reposition without alerting him. Often, the first gobble emitted comes once the bird is in range and before it sees a hen. This usually results in hunters jumping out of their boots and turning in the direction of the gobbler.

Staying alert and mentally prepared for a tom to slip in can be done easily when you are confident in the calling location. Certain areas lend themselves to turkey traffic, and when these offer elevation so that distant gobbles can be heard, it allows one to hunt and listen. When the woods go quiet, finding such a spot and setting up for a couple hours is a much better option than calling it quits.

• Trout stocking continues, and the recent rains should have warmed up the water to make for some good fishing. Blue Spruce Lake received fish last week, and the Clymer Moose held its kids’ day this past weekend, giving those with young anglers good odds to catch some fish.

Yellow Creek sections 1 and 2 also were stocked last week.

Blackleggs Creek is scheduled to be stocked at noon May 7, and Brush Creek, Cush Creek, Cush Cushion Creek and the Two Lick Creek South Branch are scheduled to be stocked at noon May 8.

• With the whirlwind that surrounds spring, sometimes dropping everything and hitting the woods or water can allow for everything to simplify.

Zeke Wilson is an outdoors writer for The Indiana Gazette. His columns appear Tuesday on the Outdoors page and in the Indiana County Area Sports section on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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