For the past week, I’ve been visiting a number of sporting goods stores and hearing familiar clucks, yelps, purrs, owl and crow calls, and even a few gobbles.
I’m sure turkey hunters all over the state were doing the same getting ready for today, the opening of New York state’s spring turkey season. How many of those we share our homes with have had to put up with us practicing calls?
My wife usually yells, “Enough! Save it for the turkeys!” then decides it’s time to go shopping.
Turkey hunters are definitely a different breed of hunter, but like all hunters, they too, especially those who are still working, suffer from a nagging flu. It’s a bird flu, but shouldn’t be confused with the avian flu. This flu only happens when May 1 falls on a week (work) day.
I experienced quite a few bouts of Turkey Flu in my 35 years of employment. Ironically, I also experienced the same type “sickness” when the Southern Zone bow and gun big-game hunting season didn’t open on a weekend.
But today, I’m sure those who had this flu were healed with that first thundering gobble from a nearby tom’s roost. I’ll bet the chill that ran up your back when you heard the call not only relieved the fever, but put a smile on your face.
Well before sunup today, I’ll have been set up with my back against a big tree with full camo from head to toe, with my 12-gauge Benelli Vinci across my lap, awaiting that first tree call.
I’m also anxious to see the effect my Bass Pro Shops remote Crazy Jake has on these wise old toms. I’ve seen quite a few toms in my scouting trips, but will be keying in on three bigger ones.
Good luck to all, and when you do knock down a tom or any bearded turkey, be sure to email me a complete story of your turkey tale. Please include your full name, city of residence, where the bird was shot, its weight, beard and spur lengths, type of gun and call used, and anything else you think would add to the tale. Send them to, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re doubting your turkey calling techniques, go to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s web site (www.-nwtf.org), crank up the volume and click on any of the 13 calls that these birds (toms and hens) make. There also are two shock calls to get that gobbler gobbling.
If you have a tom gobbling from the tree and he stops answering, don’t chase him. He probably has spent the night with his harem and doesn’t want to leave them, so back off and come back in a couple of hours and try again.
Many turkey hunters don’t hunt in the rain. Although toms don’t gobble as often in the rain, they still mate. Put on a camo rain suit and get out there, just remember to keep your box and slate calls dry. Even better, get a rainproof model. I carry a large zip bag, big enough for me to get my hands in to work the calls. Also, check the fields and pastures on rainy days.
Clarence Chamberlin of Gloversville recently went on a turkey hunt at Horseshoe Hill Outfitters in Mound City, Kan., and he’s going back next year.
Clarence won the hunt for two at the live auction of last year’s New York state 4H Shooting Sports annual banquet and auction fundraiser. Joining him on the four-day hunt was his grandfather, Alby Peck of Peck’s Lake.
Horseshoe Hill Outfitters hunts 15,000 private acres of prime turkey land in southeastern Kansas. Each year, they frequently harvest toms with beards over 10 inches long and 11⁄4-inch spurs.
Their hunt prices include lodging, meals and are semi-guided ($1,000), in which the guide shows the hunter where to go, or fully guided ($1,500), in which the guide stays with the hunter.
Clarence’s first day was active with a lot of gobbling, but none that wanted to leave their hens. All turkey hunters know it’s tough to compete with the real thing.
Day two however, was quite exciting when he was taken to another farm where they set up the decoys before daylight in a large green field near where the outfitter had roosted birds in the night before.
Clarence wasn’t sitting long before a thundering gobble echoed from behind him and it continued. Shortly thereafter, a hen yelped a few yards away, and Clarence had live bait that brought Mr. Tom in on the run. When he stepped out into the field, he was greeted with some 12-gauge No. 6 shot, and Clarence had his first Kansas tom — a big one.
Back at the lodge, the scale said 231⁄4 pounds. It had a 91⁄2-inch beard and spurs that measured one and 11⁄2 inches.
There were nine hunters in camp, and when Clarence and Alby left, seven had taken toms.
For more information on Horseshoe Hill Outfitters, go to www.hhhunts.net.
I recently had an email from a turkey hunter who was having trouble using open sights on his 12-gauge. He asked me what I recommended for optics for his gun.
There are two very reasonably priced choices, both made by BSA Optics.
The Huntsman HM 4x32DT comes with a multi-coated lens for bright and sharp target acquisition, 3.5 eye reliefs and measures just 8.5 inches.
The PMRS Multi-Purpose Sighting System provides four different illuminated reticle choices, a single center red dot, center crosshair, small open circle and a circle with dot, all of which, when placed on the gobbler’s head, will result in the making of a turkey dinner.
It has click adjustments, measures just 3.1 inches and weighs 3.7 ounces. Both of these have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $89.95 (www.bsaoptics.com).
The Great Sacandaga Fisheries will host its 17th annual Spring Fishing Contest Saturday, with measuring and award presentations at Lanzi’s Lakeside Tavern on Woods Hollow Road in Mayfield.
Entry fee is $20 for those who pre-register by Friday and $25 the day of the contest. Four places will be awarded in each of three species (walleye, pike and trout).
Payouts are $300, $200, $150 and $50, respectively. There are six tagged trout in the lake worth $750 apiece to contestants. Tournament hours are 6 a.m.-4 p.m.
For more information, an application and/or where to register, go to www.gslff.com or call Jack Smith at 863-1062 or Randy Gardinier at 848-7248.