So I think we’ve officially put winter in its grave here in southwestern Ontario (with perhaps a temporary blip this weekend that will see a brief return to sub-zero temperatures…one day of zombie winter if you will) so I’ve decided that I can really put the spring turkey preparations into high gear. Even though I’ve been talking about it for almost three months now, I’m officially dubbing today the start of 2011 turkey hunting for me. Yes, I know the season isn’t open until April 25th, I even posted some links about it. I’m referring to the arduous process of preparation that is really just a kick-start for the fun.
The gun has been choked, the bags packed, and the vest prepared for some time now, but one notable handicap persists: I have not been able to get a good line on a local bird. As mentioned in an earlier post on the subject, landowner permission has been a non-starter in the area so I’m giving up and focusing on scouting in the county forests as priority number one. I’m also trying to put together a scout-a-thon on the Bruce peninsula this coming weekend (with perhaps some festivities thrown in for the Friday and Saturday evenings…who knows?) but getting some turkeys on lockdown up there is still a nebulous endeavour at the current time. Weekends are touchy in my household currently; daycare is required since my spouse works retail hours and it might not be responsible to bring my twenty-month-old son into the woods with the expectation that he can sit quietly still for a few hours…although maybe I can time his naps right. Also simple overnight trips to Lion’s Head or even to
are almost out of the question when fuel hovers around $1.30/litre in my neck of the woods. So, infiltrating the local haunts of some gobblers becomes an even more pressing concern. Barrie
It’s not desperation time just yet…but it’s getting close.
I’ve also ramped up my practicing; both in my basement and garage (as those are the only places where I’m really allowed to crank up the volume) it constantly sounds like the drunken happy hour at some unholy wild turkey beer hall. Suffice it to say that my neighbours (and maybe my wife) hate me at this time of year. The biggest challenge this year was mastering the rhythm of running a mouth call at the same time as I operate a box or pot call. I’ve never been too adept at doing two things at once, and the risk is that one will fall into the same yelping or cutting rhythm with both calls…a problem which inevitably ends up sounding like a symphonic and harmonious hen turkey duet. I will admit that this is actually a pretty cool sound, but it is in no way natural. I’ve heard two hens barking at each other in the wild and the outcome is usually anything but harmonious. Luckily, after weeks of endless yelping, cutting, squealing, and kee-keeing I think I’ve got it down and can sound like two or more distinct hen turkeys…yet still the practicing continues. This is a sickness I tell you, a sickness.
Lastly, my discretionary spending is almost non-existent now (see the section above about gas prices) so the new decoys I was itching for will have to wait another year. Since I am a gear nut, this is disappointing news in one sense because I was really hungry to get some new, ultra-realistic decoys. But in another way, since I am a gear nut, this is great news because it means I get to do some cosmetic surgery on my current decoys, a process of maintenance that I thoroughly enjoy regardless of what time of year it is.
Quick sidebar: I once flocked two dozen Canada goose decoy heads inside a 700 sq ft apartment, and then hung the heads by strings over the 6th floor balcony to air dry. Not only was my apartment and everything in it covered in a fine dust of black flocking material, my wife was enraged and mortified because from the parking lot the dangling decoy heads looked like some macabre set of wind chimes. The superintendent had some questions and it may have even made the local newspaper…mind you this was all done at a time when I (erroneously) cared much less about what others thought of me or of hunters in general. Still, it was all pretty ingenious in retrospect.
Anyway, for the turkey dekes, some duct tape, some touch up paint, and maybe some stuffing should do the trick. They are foam collapsible decoys from Flambeau and despite the manufacturer’s guarantees to the contrary, they hold a dent like mad. More than once I have found myself attacking them during the pre-season with my wife’s hair dryer in an effort to smooth out the bumps, creases, and dents. This is of course a completely insane and fruitless undertaking since they become horribly stilted and deformed once they go back into the carrying bag or stuff into the back of my vest. Last year I even used the steam iron to straighten out the stub of a beard on my jake decoy; it had taken on a distinct, unnatural looking kink while in storage. Results were…uhhh…mixed. I’ve always thought about just filling these decoys, stakes and all, with spray foam insulation and eliminating the need to ever have to worry about them looking sunken, misshapen, and flaccid again. Problem is that I don’t really have a line on a cheap and ready source of spray foam insulation, hence this dream goes unfulfilled.
So with scouting, calling, gear maintenance, and (probably) a lot of driving ahead in the comings weeks it becomes a case of so much to do, so little time.
High stress? Hardly…but here we go again. I couldn’t be happier.