Oh boy, it’s here! Turkey season of course, the spring season for gobblers only and second only to deer hunting in popularity.
Ohio’s spring turkey season is a come-lately but here-to-stay hunting opportunity, an activity that has taken the hunting scene like a building storm. It’s something that seems as harmless as a stiff breeze in the beginning, but fully engulfs a hunter’s mind, body, and spirit as the season approaches like a meteorologist’s favorite funnel.
ndeed, spring gobbler season is as addictive as texting. A dedicated turkey hunter just can’t enough, can’t suffer enough, can’t break the habit.
He or she is perfectly willing, in fact anxious, to get up way too early, hoping beyond hope that a first peak of pre-dawn light will find a roosting gobbler within walking and talking distance.
He’ll sit for hours wishing for the right sound to hammer his eardrum, and darn if that damp seat on rotting leaves isn’t shared with about a dozen hungry ticks. I mean, come on, what’s fun about strolling in a pitch dark forest full of cobwebs that wind themselves around one’s head like a fisherman’s landing net and enough snags, briars, and lumber to trip up a platoon if not a regiment?
But you’ve got to live it and love it if you’re to be the right place at the right time, or so say real live turkey hunters.
And what is romantic about chirping like a love struck hen turkey and hooting like a swivel headed owl? Sounds like a snipe hunt, doesn’t it?
And get this, all the camo clothing, all the calling practice, all the travel, all the short nights and missed work, all the expensive calls and trinkets, all the special chokes and ammo, and, of course, the new shotgun touted as the best ever, are just part of the game — a serious game played over and over in the next few weeks.
If you’ve never hunted wild turkeys, you just wouldn’t understand.
In the red corner, we have a fully outfitted adult male of the human species, hunting out of every outdoor catalog and sporting goods store, a person with all kinds of education in his melon size head, and at six foot and too many pounds, a sure winner.
And in the blue corner, fighting out of the nearest oak flat, colorful but uglier than sin and with a brain the size of grape, we have a clumsy-looking and comical feathered creature, a sure loser. This can’t be a fair fight.
But it is. In fact, it is more than fair.
Hunters claim that there’s nothing smarter than a wild turkey. In reality, they are only smart enough to avoid at all cost any hint of danger.
To a wild turkey, anything and everything represents impending doom. From the time a wild turkey breaks out of its shell, it is in danger. In its first few days, a young chick is prey to about every other creature in the wilds. Of the dozen or so chicks in a brood, only a few survive more than a year.
So smart isn’t a good description of an adult turkey. But quick to run or fly from its own shadow is.
But then there is springtime, a few weeks of nonstop lust for a gobbler. Oh, he’s still wary, but his guard is indeed lower than ever.
So many hens, so little time. A force drives him, more than that, it consumes him. In nature, the hens come to him but at times he goes to them, at least to the one that sounds so inviting, so willing.
And that in a nutshell, is the hunt.
The hunter calls, sending the right yelps and clucks to any tom turkey in earshot. The gobbler answers with a head-shaking gobble that splits the quiet like distant thunder. The hunter calls again, saying in turkey talk that all is well and the prize awaits a handsome tom.
It’s back and forth and it is the most exciting of all hunts. It is why some 70,000 hunters will try their luck this spring, with maybe 20,000 or so winning the contest by season’s end.