Sitting here with another deep freeze kind of day tapping on a frosted window, it’s hard to picture that in one month Ohio’s spring wild turkey season will open.
But the calendar doesn’t lie and April 22 will happen, ready or not.
Emerging trees and grass. Spring turkey hunting coincides with the emerging season, a time period of three to four weeks when winter’s chilled battering retreats reluctantly, if not out of sheer exhaustion.
Replacing the frost and frozen mud will be a longer day, the first flowers, and a pre-dawn morning chill that melts away as the sun climbs bright and happy from the leafless horizon.
One of the most wonderful of wonders is the way each day brings subtle changes to the turkey woods. When season opens, the woods are full of nothing, but as the days pass, ground bushes sprout buds, then leaves, briars grow bold and thick, and brown gives way to green and assorted bits of color.
Turkeys that could be seen from afar are slowly gobbled up in the under growth as the days pass.
Some hunters look at the changes as blessings, claiming that the decrease in ground level visibility helps hide a hunter from the sharp eyes of wary turkeys. Others curse it because they can’t see approaching birds.
Curse it or welcome it, the change in foliage is part of the game.
But there’s more change in the spring woods than the greening landscape and that is the changing mood and behavior of the turkeys.
Right now, the birds are bunched up in winter flocks. In the days before season opens, the mood will change drastically from that of mutual habitation to that of power, pecking, and persuasion.
Big gobblers establish their position and younger toms begin to understand their place in the feathered community.
Turkey behavior during the spring mating season is a thing of beauty. The strutting of lusting toms, the attraction of willing hens, and the overall mystery of their mood is all but enough to entice thousands of hunters to the woods.
Spring turkey hunting is about talking turkey. It’s when hunters yelp and cluck and make like a hen looking for a date.
And if that doesn’t bring a gobbler into range hunters yak it up some more. It’s a great game.