It all started 20 seasons ago for me. I was initiated into the royal order of turkey hunting and the activity has had its grip on me ever since.
Undoubtedly my passion for the sport of chasing spring gobblers has something to do with the utter frustration I sometimes feel when things don’t go right. Like right now.
Case in point — I hunted turkeys in the hill country of Texas last week and until that final hour of my four-day hunt, my frustration led to despondency. In fact, my hunting partner commented I seemed depressed.
I suppose my mental state bordered on depression because the turkeys didn’t act like they’re supposed to. In spring, the norm is for a gobbler to wake up with lovin’ on his mind. He gobbles lustily to attract hens to his harem. If you’re proficient enough with a turkey call, you can make him think you’re a pretty young hen and hopefully he’ll come to investigate and get a ride home with you in the back of your truck.
Not so in Texas; I heard precious few gobbles and it was only in the last hour of our hunting trip that a gobbler came walking up silently to investigate my calling. Walking out with him slung over my shoulder definitely helped in sending the black dog of depression back into hiding. Until now.
Upon returning home to my hunting lease, I was encouraged by finding plenty of signs indicating that turkeys were indeed in our woods.
My first hunt of the season here in Louisiana took place last Saturday morning accompanied by my granddaughter, Hannah Johnson. The temperature was 45 degrees, skies were clear and there was not a whisper of wind. At the appointed hour when the barred owls awaken and hooty-hoot their morning greetings, the turkeys gobbled lustily back at the owls.
We moved to an old road 150 yards or so from the nearest gobbler but before he flew from his roost, we heard the soft yelping of hens and once he flew down to join them we never heard another sound from the gobbler. He ignored us.
I was not discouraged; I now knew the patch of woods where several were roosting so Monday morning, Hannah and I returned to the area to continue the chess match. I had formulated a plan that just might work. When the first gobbler sounded off, instead of setting up on the old road, we would walk several hundred yards down the road and slip into the woods to be set up ahead of him when he flew down.
Didn’t happen. Monday morning’s weather dawned in sharp contrast to Saturday’s. The temperature had warmed to 60 degrees, there was a heavy cloud cover with a breeze jostling the trees. Saturday morning, we heard at least two dozen gobbles. Monday morning? Not a single peep out of a turkey, or an owl either for that matter.
Does weather have that much effect on turkey behavior? I have to conclude that it does because no one else was hunting the area Saturday or Monday so hunting pressure didn’t play a role. Why else would their lips remained zipped Monday when they were loosey-goosey on Saturday?
I consulted several sites on the Internet searching for answers and the results are inconclusive. Some hunters say that temperature changes and sky conditions matter little while others have observed that it does.
The conclusion I reached is that I hate turkeys; they have led me down so many dead-end roads, promising success before pulling a Charlie Brown/Lucy stunt on me. I can’t take it anymore; I give up.
Yeah, right. I’ll be back out there next season trying some other strategy on those aggravating gobblers. I hate ‘em….but I just can’t leave ‘em alone.