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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 02/23/2007
Posts: 20
Snowy Weather – No Problem, Tom can take it!

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.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 10/26/2006
Posts: 357
Snowy Weather – No Problem, Tom can take it!

Well put Jack! I been spending quite a bit of time scouting out a whole new area, but I been curious how many other hunters may plan on going to the same land (public land). However, I have yet to see anyone else scouting in there, so I feel pretty good, but like you said, I have plenty of other spots to go to in the event theres a group. I usually try to find spots that are tough to get too and require a topo map, and gps or compass in order to find your way around. I usually find myself alone in these areas up here in the Northeast mountains of PA. I can't wait for the opener, its coming quick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thumbs up

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 02/23/2007
Posts: 20
Improving Weather

April 17, 2007 – the weather has finally moderated so I could listen at daybreak. I got a late start and was walking in at 6:20 a.m. when I heard a gobble. After a few minutes of silence, the pre-season gobbling contest started and two or three boys kept shouting from the roost. Things got quiet and the next gobble was a muffled on the ground call. All of this took place on the ridge across a steep valley and not on my ridge.

After the toms got quiet the hens started to call from the roost. One hen seemed to be in charge as she continuously yelped 8-12 times before pausing for a second then she would repeat the string of calls. I heard other hens clucking, yelping and making a turkey racket, but their calls were toned down. It was nearly 7 a.m. when the boss hen performed a “perfect fly down cackle,” all departed the roost - quiet again.

What a show, I got a lesson in cadence and calling sequence. To tell you the truth it was loud and harsh sounding - like a bag full of box calls tumbling down a hillside while a turkey tape of a hen yelping plays in the background.

The hens and toms must have joined forces. I could hear a few soft hen yelps and a faint gobble or two as the flock moved off.

Driving home, I saw three huge jakes strutting and four hens feeding in a nearby field. The jakes had nice size, white capped heads and “big boy” attitudes. Unfortunately, the beards were short and the fans nearly full but not quite! Someone is going to get a surprise if they pop one of these toms. Better closely check the fan and beard.

I still have not seen another hunter scouting.

Good weather tomorrow. Alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. That should be enough time to get set before dawn.

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1647
Snowy Weather – No Problem, Tom can take it!

I hope the scouting pays off for you. With a show like you had this morning, it sounds like it already has. I love listening to those turkeys make a racket.

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 02/23/2007
Posts: 20
April 19, 2007 – In the woods with the critters
hunter777 wrote:
I hope the scouting pays off for you. With a show like you had this morning, it sounds like it already has. I love listening to those turkeys make a racket.

Spring turkey pre-season scouting can be productive and it is always interesting. With a week to go before first day, I managed to make the 5:00 a.m. wakeup call. Got settled in the woods by 5:50 a.m. and heard the first gobble at 6:00 a.m. It sounds like my spot on Tussey Mountain will once again be a productive location. At least four groups of turkeys could be heard from my listening point. I did not hear much hen calling up the mountain, but the lower group of toms [three] had plenty of company. Between gobbles, I could hear plenty of yelping and a clucking sound that sounded more like “click” than cluck. Those hens would get poor scores at a calling contest!

The birds got quiet by 7:00 a.m. so the morning scout was ended, but not before I had several visitors. When you sit in the Pennsylvania woods, camouflaged and still, nature is just an arm’s length away!

The porcupine came from behind me to with two feet of my location before I realized it wasn’t a squirrel! Got the video in my blog: http://storytrax.com/node/693 I there are any mycologists reading this please check out the photo in the blog and help with the identification.

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 02/23/2007
Posts: 20
Scouting April 21-23: Things have changed.

In past seasons, I scouted a few precious mornings before work and stayed only long enough to hear the birds from the roost. Getting to work on time was priority #1. Now I am semi-retired so I go more often and stay later in the morning. Because of the extra time, I noticed a recent change in turkey behavior that you may find interesting.

Early last week, turkeys welcomed daybreak with a racket that makes us hunters smile and squirm. Gobblers got things going and the hens kept them rocking on the limbs. Hen yelping was steady and harsh. The only pause in the “noise” was just after the turkeys flew down, but then a hen would start cutting and they repeated the performance for 30-minutes or so before things got quiet.

The morning of April 23rd was different. Gobbling at day break yes, but no hens called. The gobblers on different ridges were more interested in challenging each other’s gobbles. When they flew down, it sounded like they stayed in a strut zone, moved 25-yards one direction then back – gobbling every five minutes or so. Here is what I think.

A week of above average temperatures has started our hens laying their clutch. They no longer roost with the gobbler, but need to set to keep the egg (s) warm during the cold Pennsylvania nights. That’s my theory.

Anyway the gobblers are vulnerable right now. My plan next Saturday [first day] is to let the old boy stew on the limb. He can gobble all he wants and I will keep quiet. When no hens call or show up, I think he will hit the ground with a need for companionship. Once down, I will make my move, call from a distance and move forward slightly call again.

Then the plan is to take a seat and wait for his first “where are ya” gobble. When he gobbles I need to be ready to cut in before he finishes his gobble and if he answers right back I sit tight and purr. Sounds like a good game plan to me. I hope the gobbler likes it.

I will let you know how it works out.

Good luck and safety for all!

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 02/23/2007
Posts: 20
Pennsylvania Opening Day Tomorrow

Last minute scouting today confirmed what I and every other hunter already knows, we have plenty of turkeys to hunt tomorrow. That will not make it easy, but it sure is good to know.

For several days, a persistent cold rain and northeast breeze is keeping everyone wondering if the gobblers will get quiet, but it has not happened yet. They started a bit late – 6:05 a.m. – but they started. Enough gobbling to keep my blood pressure on the high side! Shortly after daybreak, it again started to rain and the birds got quiet and I left.

I took a ride to check the fields at 7:30 a.m. and found five groups of turkey in different fields where they had gone after fly down. Multiple long beards in each group.

Tomorrow will require a critical decision. Work a roost area or go to the fields and wait for them to arrive.

If the rain ends tonight, I think the roost would be a good early morning option and the fields later. I also heard two “up the mountain” birds that are “woods only” boys so I could stay on the mountain and expect to be near potential toms.

If it rains tomorrow to begin the season, the fields are sure to hold gobblers. Trouble is the hens, jakes and all the hunters in the area will all be there getting in each other’s way!

I have been scouting at day break and, after that, crappie fishing for several hours. Fishing along the lake shore provides an opportunity to hear mid-morning turkey talk and learn where those pesky hens take the gobblers. I even managed to catch a fish dinner or two. Raystown Lake has some quality crappie fishing, but not the numbers. Crappie Pictures: http://storytrax.com/node/659 If I catch the 10-14” jumbos, I only get a few. When I catch more they run short.

Good luck tomorrow and remember to ID that target before you touch the trigger.

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