Pennsylvania’s 2007 Spring Gobbler season will soon be here, but the weather is making scouting a chore. On Monday, the gale force winds, snow and cold temperatures delayed my pre-dawn trip. When I made it into the woods later in the day, the weather just got worse.
Many of us use bad weather as an excuse for poor hunting results, but over the last week old “Tom” has convinced me that he can take it. Even today, I saw two groups of turkeys – a bachelor group of 5 jakes and a nice flock of 6 hens with two long beards trailing along. The turkeys were going about the business of feeding and breeding in the heavy wet snow carried on a stiff wind.
As we formulate plans, for the first day, weather is important, but hunting pressure is the other key elements to consider. Pennsylvania has 1/4 million dedicated turkey hunters.
If you arrive at your special hot spot and three vehicles have beaten you to the punch, make sure you have at least three additional locations on file in your mind. Forcing your way into an already crowded area is a bad strategy. It is dangerous and usually not very productive for you or the others there.
On a personal note if I am forced to start the season at my second or third location, and I am unaware of the exact location of the roosting birds, I keep my distance. I once stood in a parking area drinking coffee at daybreak, waiting and listening and heard a bird sound off nearby. Then I walked in and hunted that bird with the advantage of knowing where he was. Wandering in before first light would have spooked the bird. Just so you know that one hit the ground, stopped talking and disappeared. Sound familiar.
Sometimes it pays to have a place that gets little attention and where there is marginal turkey numbers. Any place that you can hunt without competition is a bonus in Pennsylvania. These places are usually high up the mountain, overgrown with brush and small, thick pines, swampy areas where finding a dry seat requires a stool and you definitely need boots or a woodlot that is small and too close to town to feel like turkey woods.
I confess that in addition to the lousy weather other interests have kept me from my turkey scouting duties. The first day of trout season was a great chance to visit a special fishing area set aside and stocked of for young [under 12] anglers. http://storytrax.com/node/688
I have finally put away my steelhead fishing equipment for the year. But not before one last fling on April 4-11. http://storytrax.com/node/666
Time to focus! I am getting serious about turkey hunting and I am gathering and checking my equipment and tuning my calls.