Get Out And Scout
Story by Tom Pagliaroli
The mid-week snowdrop could not have come at a better time…the conditions are perfect for scouting turkeys for the upcoming spring hunting season as the flocks are beginning to separate, with the jakes and gobblers getting feisty in reaction to increasing daylight and the percolation of hormones.
They’re getting a bit receptive themselves, entertaining the pre-mating antics of the precocious teenagers (jakes), triggering the “I’m the one you want, baby,” struts and displays of the mature toms (gobblers) who do not want to lose to the budding studs.
To be sure, late March into early April is prime time to locate the areas of operations of gobblers, from the trees they roost at night to when they fly down soon after first light.
With the segmented statewide season not set to open until Monday, April 23 (it extends through Friday, May 25), one would think there is plenty of time to amble the woodlands and field edges to locate the gobbler’s area of operation.
True enough, a mature tom will pretty much stick to his domain once the full heat of the mating season is in full swing, but, and it’s a significant coordinating conjunction, he’ll illustrate no qualms about moving here, there and pretty much anywhere the rapidly ripening hens are beginning to say, via a hot repertoire of calls, that they are willing to come to his place and do the deed.
This is what makes spring turkey hunting such a challenge: the tactic goes against Mother Nature’s rule, i.e. the females come to the male. When a gobbler thunders his whereabouts as daylight unfolds, and willing hens in the area gravitate to him. He merely flies down, does the brief “get to know you” thing and then, Bam! the luvin’ occurs.
During the spring season, the hunter is duplicating the ladies’ come ‘n take me cajoling via a series of calls emanating from box, pot, plunger or diaphragm devices. Getting him to come to you is at variance with the natural order of things, but hey, it’s a male thing when it comes to self-satisfaction…which is why the D-Week hunting segment (Monday, May 14-Friday, May 18 and Monday, May 21-Friday, May 25) is perhaps the best when it comes to coaxing then killing a big, dominant mature tom who is still feeling the urge to merge but is exasperated that many of the hens are already on the nest. Like all men of the species, especially at closing time, he is desperately hoping that there are a few ladies willing to succumb to his charms. Hence, the response to calling, be it a hot-to-trot rumble or a furtive let-me-check-it-out approach. A bonus is that hunting is allowed until sunset, a prime time for gobblers to sound off hoping for an unmated hen come hither.
Permit sales: Unclaimed turkey hunting permits will be available for over-the-counter purchase starting at 10 a.m. Monday, April 2. Figure permits for the wildly popular and productive Turkey Hunting Areas (THA) 14, 16, 20, 21 and 22 will not be available. However, THAs 12, 1-5 and 8 also offer exemplary turkey hunting, and it’s a good bet there will be permits for sale.