Last Thursday had to be one of the worst opening days of the spring wild turkey season I’ve ever sat in.
Dan Ladd of Fort Ann and I were in the Washington County woods and set up well before sunup when the rain came. It started slowly, but both the wind and the rain picked up, and in spite of my head-to-toe rain gear and a camouflaged hunting umbrella that attaches to a tree, I got wet.
At sunup, I heard one gobble quite a ways off, and that was it for the day. We left the woods around 10:30, and Dan headed for another spot close to home. I just headed home.
But I have a few successful turkey tales to tell that were emailed to me. I’ll start with the ones that are the most important to continuing our hunting tradition, the youth turkey hunting weekend one week before the regular season.
If you’ve never taken a young turkey hunter out, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Fourteen-year-old Zack Galcik and his dad, Mike, spent the first day of the youth weekend sitting early, overlooking a field, then walking and talking in the cold and rain without any success, and decided to move closer to home the next day. It was a smart move.
At 5:40 a.m., they heard gobbles from a roost, but when nothing appeared by 7 a.m., they decided to do a little slow walking and talking. It wasn’t long before they got a response in a creek bottom, and Mike set out the hen decoys. A few soft calls brought him in, but before he was in range, he apparently didn’t like what he saw and walked away, just 25 feet behind the hunters.
After another move and another big tom sighted, they set up and got him to respond. He appeared across the field and answered their calls, but he and his harem disappeared.
With less than an hour of legal shooting time left (you can only hunt spring turkeys until noon), they made one last move, and at 11:30, they had two jakes come in behind them.
They were nervous and disappeared back into the woods, but continued to gobble. Suddenly, to their left, there was another gobble and out stepped a tom in full strut headed their way, but he, too, disappeared before Zack could get a shot. Fortunately, the big tom stepped back out, and at 11:52, Zack shot his first tom, and it was a big one, tipping the scales at 17 pounds, it carried a 10.75-inch beard and spurs just shy of one inch. It was obvious from the photos that Zack was happy, but dad was really beaming.
Fourteen-year-old Brady Griffin of Schuylerville and grandfather Mike Wood of Perth found the Fonda turkey woods a good place to hunt, and Brady’s first tom was a big one. It was taken at 32 yards, and weighed 22.1 pounds and had a 9.50-inch beard and one-inch spurs. Brady is the fourth generation to kill a tom in this exact location.
Mike Auriemma, his wife Michele and Dick Andrews, all members of the National Wild Turkey Federation chapter Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs, did a great job with their fifth annual free youth turkey hunting day that attracted 45 teams (youth hunter and adult mentor). The participants came from four counties: Schenectady, Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton.
The biggest turkey was taken by James Rumbaugh. It weighed 22 pounds, three ounces, carried a 5.75-inch beard and 11⁄8-inch spurs. The caller was Tim Longo.
Andrew Weldon was a close second with 21 pounds, three ounces, a six-inch beard and 11⁄8-inch spurs. His callers were Jarrod Villa and Andy DelliVeneri. In third place was Ralph Fiorillo III with 21 pounds, two ounces. His caller was Ralph Fiorillo II.
The remaining five successful turkey hunters and their callers were: Conner Hogan, 20 pounds, 14 ounces, caller Todd Hogan; Emmalee Baker (the only young lady to get a turkey), 19 pounds, 13 ounces, Marc Baker; Scott Moore, 17 pounds, four ounces, Rick Delos; Baighly Sanders, 13 pounds, four ounces, Charles Perrino; and Liam Viscosi, 12 pounds, seven ounces, Don Rheinhart.
Those who attended were treated to an all-you-can-eat cookout, and every hunter received prizes.
Opening day was very good to two Albany County turkey hunters. Glenn Garver of Albany told me the toms were gobbling well before sunup and continued most of the morning. He shot a 17-pound gobbler that carried a seven-inch beard and one-inch spurs using a 12-gauge Ithaca at 25 yards from his chair blind. Those blinds do work.
His buddy, Mike Tracy of Glenmont, shot a bomber at 35 yards. It tipped the scales at 22 pounds and carried a nine-inch beard and one-inch spurs.
The stripers are here
As of Saturday night, five stripers over 40 inches had been taken by contestants in the River Basin’s 27th annual striped bass contest, which has attracted 809 contestants. The top five places will share in $12,135. First through fifth will pay $6,674, $2,062, $1,577, $1,092 and $728 respectively.
April 26, Roger Pulver Jr. took over the lead with his 461⁄2-incher that tipped the scales at 50 pounds. The winners are determined by the fish’s length. Pulver was fishing north of Catskill using chunk bait.
The remaining anglers in the 40-inch class are: Ryan Bielefeldt, Craryville, 433⁄4, April 28; Jose Marlon Mercado, 431⁄4, May 3; Wes Demick 411⁄2, April 22. David Larkin took his 41-incher April 29. These fish were taken both north and south of Catskill, and all on live herring and/or cut bait.
According to the daily reports, stripers are biting from Kingston to Albany, with the bigger fish coming between Malden and Coxsackie. The good news is that there are a number of 28- to 38-inch stripers being caught all over the river.
As of May 2, water temperatures in the Hudson River were in the low 50s. Chunk bait is outfishing live herring.
Heavy rains have clouded the creeks down south, but Catskill Creek appears to be clearing up quickly. For the daily Hudson River striper report, go to www.riverbasinsports.com.
And remember, if you hook up with some of these great fighting fish, there is plenty of room here for your Fish Tale. And don’t forget those turkey tales.