Bob Long says there are only about 11,000 of us. He ought to know.
Long makes his living working for the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service by knowing about turkeys and turkey hunters.
Writing in the 2012 Wild Turkey Annual Report, Long said that’s how many of the state’s 5,800,000 or so residents, and some nonresidents, hunt turkeys. The bulk of turkey hunting, of course, takes place in the spring for gobblers during a season lasting five weeks.
OK. That tells me there are a bunch of folks that either don’t like to get up early a lot of days in row or just haven’t found out yet how entrancing it can be to rub the sleep out of your eyes day after day at 3:45 a.m.
I stay in touch with Long. In fact, I am a volunteer turkey counter each summer.
Recently, I emailed him telling the biologist about my spring hunt.
“Mountain birds are tough,” he wrote back.
Couldn’t agree more.
Another turkey hunting acquaintance recently told me, “If a hunter gets a gobbler in these mountains year after year after year, he has really accomplished something.”
That same hunter asked his son if he knew why The Outdoor Channel never showed gobbler hunting trips from these Almost Maryland mountains or the nearby hills of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The answer should be easy for everybody. It can take a long time to even find a gobbler in country where the topography is wooded and the view changes with every few footsteps.
Filming and shooting gobblers in the Midwest, where the birds are required to live near large fields and to have low IQs, saves costs and assures proper footage.
I haven’t hunted gobblers in Central Maryland or the Eastern Shore, but it can’t be very difficult to find out where they are roosting. After all, there are only so many woodlots and so many trees and those are surrounded by large fields.
Here in the hinterlands, gobblers can roost any place their little bird brains desire. When you take a Savage River State Forest with 60,000 acres or even a Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area with almost 10,000 acres that’s a lot of places, many of them remote, where the Toms can fly up and fly down and consort with hens.
Old guys just might be better gobbler hunters than young guys. They don’t move as much. For every gobbler you hear and move on and kill, you will spook 10 and every spooking is an education, perhaps causing birds to be less vocal and reticent to move toward future yelps and purrs.
The more I sit, the better a gobbler hunter I become. Of course that sitting needs to be done in good turkey country. You also have to have or create the time it takes to be patient. And when a person’s directional hearing deteriorates, there’s nothing like hunting from a blind where you can twist your head and ears this way and that in an attempt to triangulate the direction of the gobbles.
Sure, the young person can hear more gobbles and know from whence they originate, but then that person wants to get up and go after them. Some of those birds will get killed. Many of them will not.
Blinds, too, allow you to scratch your nose and shift your butt. Whew. That was a dangerous sentence. Glad I didn’t get that in the wrong order.
You can also stretch your legs and otherwise get away with this movement and that, which would be impossible in the open woods.
The second Maryland gobbler I tagged this year (May 9) would have never flopped if I hadn’t been in a blind. The morning had been silent, as had many previous mornings.
Without a sound, about 10:15 a.m., a hen appeared in the small window at 2 o’clock and fewer than 10 yards from the blind. Then in a few minutes, another hen showed in the same spot. The second hen was quickly followed by a jake gobbler that was quickly followed by a strutting longbeard.
I let the big boy get 27 yards away before I disturbed the silence of the spring woods.
Had I not been using a portable blind, but sitting with my back against a tree, no matter how big a tree, I would surely have spooked those turkeys as they silently approached me from behind and to my right, the most vulnerable position for a right-handed shooter.
Spring gobbler hunting can be as rigorous as your physical conditioning allows. Or, you can sit still and fill out tags.
In a little more than 10 months we get to do it again.
Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at email@example.com.
Bob Long says there are only about 11,000 of us. He ought to know.
- Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
Gobbler stuff can get crazy
Tough, old bird
The third gobbler I killed was in 1990 while hunting on Pond Hill near McCoole. Relatively early in the morning I sent out a couple yelp calls. Immediately, 75-100 yards away, what sounded like three gobblers got into a fight.
Almost Maryland welcomes you back
If you are a hunter in Almost Maryland, circle Thursday on your calendar so you don’t forget to attend the 7 p.m. hearing at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg that deals with proposed hunting regulations for the next two years.
Gobbler radar activated
With only 54 days until it opens, the Maryland spring gobbler season is officially on the radar.
Region A buck, doe changes possible
The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service, the Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen’s Association, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen have hashed out a new deer hunting concept for Region A, which includes Garrett, Allegany and the western portion of Washington counties.
Meshach Browning would say ‘Just do it’
I wonder if it is possible to attach a
GPS unit to legislation that has been
introduced at the Maryland General
Get ready! Get set! Legislate!
The wheelings and dealings associated with the 90-day Maryland General Assembly have been going on for more than two weeks now and some legislation having to do with hunting fishing has already been proposed.
Hunting, fishing violations
After further review, the call on the field
does not stand.
The field I am talking about is the Cumberland
Times-News and the call is the way we
report violations of hunting and fishing regulations
that are alleged to have
taken place in Maryland.
DNR wants hunters to go hog wild on wild hogs
That’s what Jonathan McKnight of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says hunters should do if they encounter a wild hog in the woods or fields.
On the Outdoors page of Dec. 22 we ran the photo of Ron Cappadocia and the 200- to 300-pound wild hog the Flintstone area resident killed along Terrapin Run in eastern Allegany County.
Firearms hunt for deer takes us home
Finally, on Dec. 7 about 11 a.m. my fall hunting season became complete when I heard the swans flying in some invisible part of the sky above Dan's Mountain.
There must be some sort of Gregorian mechanism I don’t understand that makes calendar time go by faster from Sept. 6 through early December.
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