Looks like turkey hunters are having a good season. I’ve received a number of reports from those who have already filled both their spring tags.
I hope to fill mine Friday/Saturday at the New York State Outdoor Writers Association Safari in Washington County. Here are some who can now trade their turkey gun for a fishing rod.
Amsterdam turkey slayer Mike Auriemma had an outstanding turkey hunting season, which included attracting 51 young turkey hunters to his annual Youth Turkey Hunting Outing contest and picnic. Mike’s first tom this year required quite a bit of sweet talking and his ability to let the “little ones” go. His decision to wait paid off when he worked a big tom within 50 yards before it hung up. Mike knew he wasn’t going to come any closer, and made another good decision — he shot.
The big gobbler tipped the scales at 21 pounds, 14 ounces, carried a 12-inch beard and 11⁄2-inch spurs. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, the bird would score 75.875 points. I checked the NWTF records, and this bird would be about the 10th best in New York state. Bird number two for Mike was also a beauty, which weighed 17 pounds, six ounces, had a 10-inch beard and three-quarter-inch spurs.
Two of Mike’s hunting companions also shot nice gobblers. Louie Perazzini of Watkins Glen shot a 19-pounder with a 10-inch beard and one-inch spurs, and John Loucks of Amsterdam bagged a 19-pound, nine-ounce tom with a nine-inch beard and seven-eighth-inch spurs.
Jack Douglas of Galway has been sending me trail cam photos of strutting toms since last month, and recently sent me photos of two of them laying on their sides. His first was a 21-pounder with an 11-inch beard and seven-eighth-inch spurs. Number two weighed 18 pounds, carried an 111⁄2-inch beard and seven-eighth-inch spurs. Both were taken with a Browning BPS 10 gauge.
Thirteen-year-old Tom Budka Jr. of Scotia, who shot his “first” turkey during this year’s special youth hunt, recently filled his other tag; but it wasn’t easy. The birds were very tight-lipped that morning, but one last loud yelp call got thundering responses two fields over from Tom and his dad. Junior saw a tom sneaking through the hedgerow heading for the decoy, and it wasn’t long before he dropped the tom at 10 yards with his Mossberg 20-gauge. The tom weighed 15 pounds and had a 41⁄2-inch beard. Dad got out, also, and shot a nice 19-pounder with an 81⁄2-inch beard and three-quarter-inch spurs. I believe junior’s first bird weighed 22 pounds and carried a 73⁄4-inch beard and one-inch spurs.
All successful turkey hunters know the importance of scout/roosting birds they plan to hunt, and Mike Galcik of Schuylerville proved it. For several days, Mike watched the movement of a tom and four jakes from one green field, across a road and into a plowed field. He knew they were crossing a hedgerow somewhere near the top corner of the field. When it was time to hunt the birds, he stayed tight to the edge of the woods, well before daylight, moved to the other side of the field, set out two hen decoys, loaded his gun and set up just inside the woodline.
The hunter and gobbler conversation, which the bird started, began at 5:05 a.m. and it was a long-distance call which Mike estimated at 700 yards. Because of the high winds, Mike had to increase the volume of his calls to keep the tom coming. He watched as the turkey crossed a freshly planted corn field, then the road and entered the lower field where Mike was sitting.
For a few minutes, he lost sight of the bird. When he saw it, Mike was disappointed because he thought it was a jake, but then the “jake” displayed a full fan tail indicating a mature tom and its long beard could be seen. At 35 yards, his Mossberg 835 Turkey Tactical 12-gauge rewarded Mike with a 20-pound, eight-ounce tom with a 91⁄2-inch beard and one-inch spurs.
Not many turkey hunters would ask to go hunting on their wife’s birthday, but my friend, Steve Brzozowski of Mechanicville did — and she said “yes.” Hunting close to home, Steve started talking with a tom soon after sunup, but the bird hung up about 100 yards out. However, it was Steve’s lucky day because what he didn’t see at first behind his blind was a tom and two hens. The blind hid him while he turned slowly and at 25 yards, he took the shot with his Harrington and Richardson 12-gauge single-shot. The gobbler weighed 15 pounds, had a half-inch beard and half-inch-spurs. And Steve even was able to join his wife for the 8:30 a.m. Mass that morning.
The final turkey tale this week comes from an anonymous hunter whose friend, also anonymous, got lucky on his turkey hunt. The hunt occurred somewhere off of Hickory Hill Road above Fonda.
The hunter set out a decoy, and before long, he had a gobbling tom interested. Apparently when the gobbler saw the decoy, he came in on a dead run and jumped right on it. The hunter pulled back the hammer on the single-shot 10-gauge and pulled the trigger — click — nothing happened.
However, it didn’t bother the tom. It stayed right there. The hunter ejected the shell, pulled another out of his pocket, chambered it, sighted again and this time, the gun went off. The tom went down, and so did the decoy full of holes.
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