They’ve started, you know. The gobbler seasons.
Well, actually, one has, that being Maryland, and two will, one in West Virginia tomorrow and then another in Pennsylvania soon after that.
That being said, I can close my eyes and already feel the physical and mental swirl that is brought on by extended and intense spring gobbler hunting.
Spring gobbler hunting isn’t a bath in a washtub, it’s a total immersion, not an avocation, but a profession, though one in which the pay doesn’t come as filthy lucre, but in the form of memories, filled-out tags and goose bumps.
The memories play tricks. There is the expansive memory of the season that usually begins before the trees are leaved and then creeps forward like a day-old poult, eventually bringing down the curtain about the time high school seniors are agog about their approaching trips to the beach.
Phooey on the beach. Life is a mountain. The best life is on a mountain where turkeys gobble.
Within that seasonal memory are nuggets that bang into the consciousness like pop-up windows on a computer screen or an old MTV video.
POP: The 20-pound gobbler that you bagged in late April.
POP: The sow and cubs that you first thought were four gobbler fans when you saw their backs coming up from the hollow to your left.
POP: A shot a ridge away and then a text message from your buddy. “Killed a big one.”
POP, POP, POP: The coyote howling in the distance, the scarlet tanager that landed on a branch three feet away and the cell phone you used to check in your Maryland gobbler while seated beside it on a remote ridge where it last flopped.
These mental swirls and pops are from only one season. Stack season upon season, swirl upon swirl, tag upon tag and beard upon beard and you become a veteran.
Mossy Oak has a spring camouflage pattern the company calls Obsession. Perfect. Take that, Calvin Klein. I’ve got your powerfully masculine and sensual right here.
One of my favorite Tweeterists, that being Cloyd Rivers, has it right, in my opinion, when he Tweets something such as “Camo makes the ladies swoon.” I cleaned that up a little. Actually, I cleaned it up a good bit.
“Merica,” right Cloyd?
When you kill a gobbler you have a little bit of meat and a lot of feathers. The dead turkey is necessary, though, so that every thing else that led up to it can be appreciated, recounted and embedded in the cerebral cortex of a gobbler hunter.
I’m grateful that most people take time off work for deer hunting instead of for spring gobbler hunting. That means the yelps, purrs and cutts that I hear are likely coming from a real hen rather than from another person in the woods whose intentions mirror mine.
Sorry. Spring gobbler hunting is not a social event, at least not until shooting hours have come to an end for the day.
Not really sorry.
Many of the trail-worn gobbler hunters I have known don’t even reach for the shotgun until the season is at least a few days or a week old. “Have to let the amateurs get out of the woods,” they say.
And they do. Get out of the woods, that is. Many public lands in Almost Maryland become under-hunted or not-hunted two weeks into the five-week season. There is a flurry, of course, at the very end when the season is set to expire.
A hunter, whose calling sounds as objectionable to a gobbler in April as a Snoop Dogg rap song, because numerous hens are available, becomes a woodland Frank Sinatra to those same gobblers in May when their girlfriends have mostly gone to nest. Apparently all callers sound good at closing time; a 2 at 10 and a 10 at 2 if you get my drift.
Croon, swoon and boom.
I have an app for spring gobbler hunting. It’s called a Beretta Model 390 and it is that shotgun to which the majority of my 34 spring gobblers have fallen. The first, however, was struck by pellets projected by an old Ithaca Model 37, 30-inch barrel and all.
It took much tinkering and some cost (modern shotgun shells are pricey), but I figured out the two best chokes and loads for the Beretta.
Using a Hasting choke sized at .682, the shotgun throws a nasty pattern using Hevi 13 and the shot size doesn’t matter. When I use a Primos Tightwad choke with an opening of .655, the Hevi 13 pattern is horrible, but the pattern with Remington Nitro, usually No. 5 shot, is one no turkey head could survive.
I’m going to miss Beretta when the company eventually moves from Maryland because of restrictive firearm laws passed this year in the General Assembly. I guess the respected company will also take with it its 400 employees and the millions in state taxes it paid.
I had one four-gobbler spring; two birds north of the North Branch of the Potomac River and two south of it. That was 2007. I hunted nine days, heard gobblers on eight days, saw gobblers on seven days and also missed a gobbler. Wow.
I am so used to hunting 21 to 25 days each spring that my success was bittersweet. I was glad to have filled out four tags, but sad to have hunted only nine days. The W.Va. birds bit dust on May 6, 7 and the Md. Toms got tagged on May 14, 15. I thought briefly about buying a Pennsylvania license, but then slapped myself and went fishing.
Some hunters don’t like to be in the woods unless the birds are gobbling. As long as I know gobblers are using a certain landscape, I could not care less if they are vocal. In fact, I enjoy bagging gobblers that are silent or mostly so.
There would be a lot fewer notches on my shotgun if I insisted that I would not pull the trigger unless a bird gobbled and strutted into shooting range because of my calling.
In fact, I think my most memorable hunts have been those in which I figured out a bird’s pattern and scored by setting up in the right place, sans calling.
So here we are, at the threshold of gobbler season circa 2013. To those of you with whom I share this passion, may a gobbler never sneak in on your non-shooting side or when your pants are down or both. To those of you who are considering participation, I encourage you to give it a try ... on some other mountain, of course.
Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at email@example.com. His column will return on May 19.
NIRVANA: a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry and the external world
They’ve started, you know. The gobbler seasons.
- Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
Black bear biologist explains new hunt
The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has abandoned the bear harvest quota system in use for 10 hunting seasons and has set the next two hunts at four days apiece.
South Branch of Potomac River best place in W.Va. for trophy rainbows
I always enjoy the annual roundup supplied by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that reveals where all the trophy fish were caught.
Mettiki will once again produce trout
Brian Richardson is confident that the Maryland Fisheries Service will, little by little and year by year, get to the point where full production is restored to the state’s trout hatchery system, meaning that fish will no longer have to be purchased from private sources.
The answer my friend ...
Recently, the Times-News published
a photograph of sea gulls that had
landed on the parking lot at Braddock
Center in LaVale
My first thought
was, “If those sea
gulls landed in the
Gunpowder River or
Big Hunting Creek
on their way here
from the ocean I
hope they didn’t have
felt soles on their
feet, otherwise they
will spread rock snot
to our trout streams
in Allegany and Garrett counties.”
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.
- More Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors Headlines
- Black bear biologist explains new hunt