On opening day of the New York state spring turkey hunting season, Mike Galcik of Schuylerville was in the woods at the edge of a field in Saratoga County at 4:45 a.m., and the first thing he heard was a coyote howl, which was immediately responded to by a roosted tom.
Now that he knew where the tom was, he quickly put out two hen decoys and settled into the brush. At daylight, Galcik began soft-calling and got a response, and then waited for the fly-down.
It didn’t take long, and Mike got the tom’s attention and saw him making his way through the field about 150 yards away. But at 100 yards, the turkey froze up when another tom began to gobble, and was trying to cut him off.
Eventually, the mature (boss) tom began to strut toward Galcik’s decoys and then a real hen showed up. With that type of competition (the real thing), and knowing he wasn’t going to come any closer, Mike made the decision to take the shot. He shouldered his shotgun, squeezed the trigger and watched the turkey fall. The trophy tom weighed 20 pounds, carried 1 1/2-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard.
On the same morning and about 15 miles away from Mike, I was in a small woods in Saratoga County just a few minutes before 5 a.m.
While I was in Florida, my friend Neal Hopkins had been visiting this area early on several days, and said his calls got a lot of turkey responses. So when I got home, I went there early in the morning for three days before the season opened and spent some time trying to get responses. I never got one gobbling response. But I know Neal is an excellent caller and, come opening morning, I was right back there, this time with my 12-gauge to give it another try.
From just before daylight, and up until 5:50 a.m., I did not get one turkey response. Sitting there discouraged and deciding whether I should do some walking and talking, I thought I heard a gobble. I made a few low yelps, and got a gobble in return. A few minutes later, I called again, and this time the tom was closer. He knew where I was, and he was coming.
I was hunched down in the brush when I saw movement a little to my right and laid my shotgun on my lap. At one point, I saw two or maybe three gobblers. I watched the lead tom go behind a tree and I knew if he continued, I would have a shot.
Then I heard something I did not want to hear — two hens. They started calling, and when the tom answered, I knew he would go to the real thing. It was then that I shouldered my shotgun and decided if he stuck his head out from behind that tree, I was going to shoot.
The real hens yelped and he stepped out where I could see his head and neck, and I ended the hunt. He went right down. It was 52 steps to my tom, which carried a 9-inch beard, 1/2-inch spurs and weighed in about 17 pounds. It was all over at 6:30 a.m.
Later that morning, Mike and I got together and took several photos, which you can see at noonanpics.blogspot.com.
LITTLE ANGLER, BIG FISH
Eight-year-old Lucas Brown of Amsterdam and his mom, dad and several other family members went fishing off the shore in Troy when Lucas caught, photographed and released a 19-inch striper. They also caught and released a few others that day. Lucas said he intends to catch a bigger one.
I took a ride around Saratoga Lake last Saturday, and there was quite a bit of activity. Lots of bass boats, which must mean the bass bite is on. Remember, it is catch and release (gently) time.
River Basin Sports reports very good fishing from Albany to Wappingers with fish up to 42 inches being caught. Herring appear to be relatively easy to get with Sabikis in the creeks, and bloodworms are also working.
According to River Basin, it appears that the main spawn is yet a week or two away upriver. Water temperatures in Albany have been in the low 50s. I will be out there with Ed Skorupski of Stillwater this week, and will have more to report next week.
Reach Gazette outdoor columnist Ed Noonan at [email protected].