Frustrating Turkeys Are Simply Part Of The Annual Spring Experience

You’d think after nearly 20 years of chasing turkeys that few things would be a surprise anymore, but that’s now how turkey hunting is played out each spring.

By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor

Last weekend I had to travel to southwest Louisiana. Their season isn’t open yet so I missed out on any Looziana longbeards. But the season opened last Friday in Alabama and I planned to hit a state Wildlife Management Area on the way home. I emailed a friend to see what his birds were doing — gobbling, no gobbling, henned up, the usual scouting report.

Some days during turkey season it all comes together and other days, it's a frustrating mess. (Photo: NWTF)

Some days during turkey season it all comes together and other days, it’s a frustrating mess. (Photo: NWTF)

He provided a favorable report and invited me to hunt his property. That honestly wasn’t my original intent since we have several nice state WMAs on my drive, but I took him up on the offer. He said no one had hunted there the previous two days and only a little last spring. Also, the trail camera photos showed some nice 2- and a few 3-year old birds using the fields in the afternoons.

That sent my mind whirring about the locations he mentioned. It’s been seven or eight years, at least, since I’d hunted there. But I knew the terrain, the high points, the areas he was talking about. He’s added a few more planted fields and openings, so there were plenty of options.

A mild fog burned off quickly by the time I’d arrived. Songbirds were singing. I walked, sand on the road crunching under my boots. It just felt so blasted good to be in the woods, listening to the world wake up, having the anticipation of what might lay ahead.

Three hours later, I was flummoxed. Not only did I not hear a gobbler Sunday morning, I never heard a hen cackle or anything fly down. I mean, nothing. Just tweety birds. Nothing in the fields. Nothing struttin’ or peckin’ bugs or gettin’ jiggy in the morning sunshine. Nothing thundering through the hardwoods.

I went back to my truck, took a break and regrouped before lighting out again. This time I had my Zink Avian X decoy, which I figured could be a plus in the late morning. A gobbler maybe hears a lonely hen, sees this decoy (which is really nice, and realistic) in the field and could come on a rope to display his struttin’ powers of persuasion.

I called lightly. I called loudly. When the wind blew, I cranked it up louder. When it stopped, I called in a different direction. Finally, I heard two faint gobbles. They were so faint I first thought it might have been my stomach growling. But, no, they were turkeys.

Twice, for one of them, and three times for the other. But they were so far away, so barely perceptible, that I couldn’t pinpoint them exactly. Only a general location. Plus, being on up in the morning, I figured maybe they also were alone and would hit the trail toward me to find this loud, bawdy hen looking for a longbeard lothario.

So, I waited. My friend, the landowner, had said to be patient. So, I waited. I was in one of the fields where three or four birds had been spotted on the trail cameras. So, I waited.

Those birds are still there. They didn’t come to the fields by the time I left the property. I made one last loop to check. They never made another sound, either. But I’ll be back, and I hope they’re there, too.

Nothing surprises me when it comes to turkey hunting. That’s one thing that makes it so great.

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