I went for a 5km run this morning (still training for April 9th!) and was treated to a turkey hunter’s favourite sight: a strutting tom.
As I jogged up a moderate hill but a kilometre from my house as the crow flies (or more accurately, as the moderately overweight hunter jogs) I looked to my right and a mere hundred yards away I saw a gobbler strutting for four hens near the corner of a pasture field. He looked like a good bird.
Not wanting to alarm them (and because I have a training pace to maintain) I just kept right on motoring past them. I wondered as I continued on my way if they would still be there when I passed by again on the return loop. They were.
They seemed completely nonplussed by my presence; the gobbler spun around and tilted his fan this way and that, never breaking strut. The hens just fed away along the edge of the field. Aside from a couple of glances my way, they acted as though I didn’t even exist. I imagine that if I had stopped or made a sudden movement towards them things may have been different.
I finished the loop, ran inside to grab a drink and then hopped in my car to scoot back to the spot. Through my binoculars I could see that he was a really good bird. He was strutting less by then, but when he stooped to peck at the field I could see two beards. His spurs were a bit less clear, but they are certainly present. Again the birds ignored me, and after about five minutes I went home…I was becoming well aware that I really needed a shower.
But that’s my first strutter of the season in the books, and to me that signals springtime more than any robin or first crocus possibly could.
Yep, spring is coming, just like I suspected it would.
More signs of impending spring came to me over the past weekend. Last Friday night I went up to spend a few days doing some work and maintenance on the hunt camp in
. A few trees had been marked for cutting and scaling, and some cabin maintenance was on the agenda as well. So was the promise of some laughs, some good food, and some rollickingly high-spirited conversation. Spence Township
The road in to the camp was in pretty rough shape, a symptom of the daily thawing and nightly re-freezing of early spring; I blame the road (and not operator error) on my car becoming hopelessly mired and requiring one of my friends to tow me out.
Likewise, despite there being thigh-deep snow in the bush in some places, we were working in bright sunshine and that, coupled with some semi-strenuous labour, resulted in myself and a couple of others doffing our coats while working in the woods that day. Can’t do that in mid-January, so spring must be coming. There was even sign that a moose had been poking around and nibbling on some low browse that was likely snow-covered until a week or so ago. Still, the last sign that spring was on its way was to come that evening in the form of a huge, glowing full moon.
I’m not going to get involved in the wild conspiracies about the super-moon (as it has been dubbed) since like most people that are spouting off their claimed expertise, I know nothing about astronomy. But I will say this: the moon was big, it was bright, and it was real pretty. According to my calendar it was also the last official full moon of winter.
Standing outside on a Saturday night in the late March wilderness, looking out at the silvery light reflected and amplified by the remaining snow I thought about that moon, the final one of this seemingly interminable winter, and I couldn’t help but smile. Sure the moon is a cold, distant, inanimate celestial body that really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about spring, or turkey hunting, or the fact that we’re all sick of winter, but as it beamed down… the closest and brightest it has been in years…well, it kind of felt to me like the winter moon was saying goodbye for another year. I had a full belly, friends around me, and a good weekend of work under my belt. The next day was to be the equinox and the day after that the first official day of spring, bringing with it portents of growth, verdure, and the promise of life reborn for another year. It all left me feeling pretty good.
Seeing that gobbler today buoyed my already high spirits. Then I heard on the radio that my area is calling for another 10 centimetres of snow tonight and into tomorrow.
Still that moon sure was something, wasn’t it?