ZEKE WILSON: Turkey hunting slow
Those who suffer from allergies will be quick to agree that spring is in full swing. Struggling to breathe can dampen any outdoor experience, and a sneezing fit while turkey hunting can ruin the hunt.
From the hunters I have spoken with, it sounds like the spring gobbler season is going slowly. A lack of gobbling in general, much less in response to a hunter’s call, has many looking toward other activities.
On May 13 hunters will be permitted to hunt all day rather than until noon, which is the current regulation. At about the same time, gobblers will find themselves with a shortage of hens as many begin to nest.
Oftentimes the same smart gobbler from early in the season can act pretty stupid around the middle of the month after he has lost his harem. In areas with minimal fall hunting pressure, it is possible for hens to live past their prime and stop nesting. These situations allow for gobblers to always have one hen or more, leaving little incentive to go investigate another’s call.
Vegetation continues to thicken, and aside from mature stands of hardwoods, finding a spot to set up and call can be difficult. The keen eyesight of a gobbler looking for a hen is difficult to fool, and even more so when the hunter limits his or her visibility to only 20 yards or so because of the brush. I have had several birds come into calling stands that were not given enough thought, and all ended without a shot fired.
When a gobbler responds to a hen call used as a locator often he is within a 150 yards. The initial reaction of the hunter is to quickly set up, but when done in a poor spot, the odds have already tipped in the gobbler’s favor.
In some instances, retreating is the best route because it allows you to find a better spot, and with some calling done as you do so, a hunter can further excite the gobbler.
• Flow in most trout streams is down, and in the smaller ones seeing fish in the clear water is easy. Unfortunately, in clear water the fish also see the angler.
I fished two such streams this past week and enjoyed good fishing. Even though it was the middle of the week, both streams had an abundance of anglers. Several times I questioned the accuracy of the unemployment rate as it seemed that a lot of able- bodied men were out fishing the day away.
Stocking efforts are beginning to wind down, with the bulk to be completed this month. In turn the fishing will become tougher as numbers decline, although angler interest will continue to fall.
Blackleggs Creek is scheduled to be stocked today, and Brush Creek, Cush Creek, Cush Cushion Creek and the south Branch of Two Lick Creek are schedule to be stocked Wednesday. Little Mahoning sections 2, 3 and 4 are schedule to be stocked next Wednesday.
• Most fish still can be caught on a cane pole using a red worm, but everyone seems to be looking for next big thing. The Fish and Boat Commission is giving thought to popular fishing bait, which employs five baits and gives the effect of a school of baitfish. Current regulations allow only three hooks.
• Habitat work is in full swing on game lands, with 60 acres burned on SGL 262 early this spring. Improvements such as this benefit both game and non-game species.
In April the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced it had acquired seven square miles of new game lands, with most coming in form of payment for surface damages on other game lands. While the bulk of these properties are in the eastern part of the state, it is encouraging to see our state lands growing and improving almost daily.