Bruce Peninsula Weekend in Review—Arrival and Friday, April 29th, 2011

So Wednesday’s hunt was a bust, since I didn’t even go what with 20mm of rain or so in the Halton area, so I took Friday off from my real job and following a soccer game that I was scheduled to play in, we headed north for the Bruce Peninsula with my friend Lucas “Squirrelly” Hunter.
It became pretty obvious when we broke out into the Ferndale Flats that conditions were not going to be ideal for turkey hunting.  Succinctly put, it was wet.  Really wet.  Parts of the Flats looked like sprawling lakes, and places that normally were relatively dry were bogged down in mud.  To boot, there was no sign of the rain stopping until mid-day on Friday, which put a damper on my plan to drive to a couple of likely places and troll for a shock-gobbling turkey.  So instead we got in, stoked the fire that my uncle had going in the house, and laid out our gear and hit our respective beds in advance of what promised to be a wet, hard morning of turkey hunting.
Four hours later Friday morning broke just the same way that Thursday night had ended; wet and windy.  In my sleep-deprived state I made my first bad decision of the 2011 turkey season.  I decided that we ought to walk to our stands through a few hundred metres of turned field (read: mud).  Now I am not a masochist or (too much of) an idiot, and there was method to my madness.  The only place to park near the spot I wanted to go (had we driven) was very close to where I wanted to set up and the sounds of the vehicle may have spooked any potential turkeys.  So we walked, because I thought that the person tilling that field would have left at least a metre or two of solid ground along the field edge.  I was wrong (and I really must commend Todd on his economical use of the entire area of the field) because the area was turned over right to the very edge of the forest.
Finally arriving at stand I was very sweaty and leg-sore from slogging through uneven, gooey mud.  My friend Lucas probably thought I was torturing him on purpose, but I swear I wasn’t.
I put Lucas down in a likely place to see a bird, and then took off myself for about a half-kilometre away in a hardwood bottom.  After a couple of hours with no gobbling, and although I thought I heard a very distant, very faint tom turkey right at 6:30am (which more than likely was just my mind playing tricks on me ) there was no action. The rain remained on to keep me company, and once I was thoroughly chilled and soaked, I got up to stretch my legs and cover some ground before looping back to pick up Lucas.  By the time I made it back to pick my friend up, the rain had basically subsided but the wind had stepped up a bit.  We trolled the immediate area for a turkey and with no gobbling to be heard and no visuals obtained, made for home and some breakfast.  The afternoon was improved from a weather perspective, and we picked up my cousin for a bit of a tour in the Dyer’s Bay/Cape Chin area.
With no answers to our gobbles and no interest in our set ups for the early part of the afternoon, we went to property that my cousin assured us held some gobblers.  We parked with the knowledge that we were the only hunters on the property at that time and set out for a stand that my cousin shot a turkey at last year.  As we approached a spot near a field edge that was to be our stand, the wet weather of the preceding week threw us another curve.  The path to the field edge was flooded to a depth that was well over all our boot-tops.  Not wanting to get wet feet, we first cut to the west in an attempt to get around the newly formed pond.  Finding that way also effectively blocked by deep water, we headed east through a cedar stand in an attempt to get around the water and into a good calling position.  Unfortunately the small stream feeding the aforementioned pond had expanded to a flowing river over six feet across.  It looked deep and I was in no mood to test the waters.
As we stood surveying our options to get across, I looked up and saw four red-heads bobbing curiously at us through the thick cedars and gads.  Turkeys…and they were within shotgun range.  It appeared as though we had interrupted a visit to the watering hole for the birds, and while none of the birds ever putted (or even ran) they knew we were not something they were used to seeing and they walked off to the northeast.
We backed quietly out of the cedar stand and took a big loop around in an attempt to set up on a dry spot and work the birds.  About an hour later, with a fair amount of calling but without a single gobble in response, we gave up on the birds that we had bumped and just headed back to the car.  We had a debate about what we had done wrong and if we should come back the next morning.  The answers were nothing and no.  Sometimes turkey hunting is just like that, and with other hunters that we knew likely to be exercising their permission to hunt the location the next day we used discretion as the better part of valour and rolled off for home again.  I was hungry and dinner beckoned.
After a meal of sautéed mushrooms, onions, and sweet peppers served with spicy pan-seared chicken thighs and pork chops washed down with a cold ale, we had some fellow turkey hunters over to watch some hockey, commiserate, and plan Saturday’s hunt.
The weather was boding well for Saturday with nothing but calm skies and sunshine on the docket, so I decided to make for a field near the deer-hunting camp that had for the least three turkey seasons held distant gobblers that refused to show themselves.  It promised to be an interesting spot, and it surely proved to be that as well.
But more on that tomorrow.

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