Category Archives: 2011 turkey odyssey

Requiem for Turkey Season 2011

So it was roughly the same temperature in Southern Ontario today as it was in Tampa, Florida, and knowing that information in advance I should have not gotten up and gone turkey hunting.  But as you know, I’m an addict (from a hunting perspective) and it was closing morning, so I had to give it one last go.
A sign that I was making a mistake?  No other vehicles at the parking area in the Halton Region forest I was set stalk.  Obviously every other turkey hunter has tagged out or is smarter than I am (or both…likely both).  Still I pressed car doors quietly shut, loaded my 870 one last time this turkey season, got to a nice green spot, and scraped away on my pot call.
One note about my pot call: it has surpassed my mouth diaphragms this year as my go-to call.  I’m not sure if I did an extra good job of conditioning and maintaining it this year, or if all that maniacal off-season practice was actually worth anything, but to my ears and in a tribute to Quaker Boy for the call and Primos for the strikers, it was just the sweetest sounding call in the vest all season.   They are highly recommended by this avid (but failed) turkey hunter.
Of course, to the turkey’s ears (if any were even listening) my purrs, clucks, yelps, and cutting were just not quite sweet enough to elicit even a single distant gobble this morning and all I got was sweaty and mosquito-bitten.  Fine, whatever.
So this chapter of the 2011 hunting agenda comes to a close (at least around my parts) and now I begin the long lay-off between now and early-season goose hunting.  The good part for me?  Well, I have lots of opinions, stories, and general thoughts on goose hunting, goose calls, and the vast morass of merchandise that passes for goose hunting equipment so look for plenty of brain-dump on this topic from me over the next three months.
I’ve also had some recent epiphanies about the nature of the hunting tradition and the direction it is heading in, so more Taboo of the Day is in the offing.  If you like those sorts of things (some of you do and based on the emails I get, some of you vehemently do not) I’m happy to please or disappoint you as your opinion of me and my thoughts wishes.  I’m going to write them anyways.
Still it would have been nice to shoot a gobbler this year.  Good job to all those who connected on their bird(s) during the 2011 spring turkey hunt, if you’ve got a story you’d like to contribute here, flip me an email here.

Murphy and His Law Win Again

A long weekend just came and went in Ontario this month, and I had visions of spending early mornings in the woods and afternoons trekking cross country looking to strike up a gobbler.  My hopes were set on eyeing a big bird down the rail of my 870 and sending a mess of lead screaming in the direction of his head and neck.
Instead I spent the majority of the weekend (and most of this week) vomiting and racing to the bathroom.  I don’t know if it’s the flu, food poisoning, an infection, or a parasite but things went very wrong for me this last week in big way.  Suffice it to say, I have had very little to blog about…my thanks to those who have hung in there as subscribers; this feed is not dead, it’s just had the trots for five or six days.
Which brings us to the here and now of today.  Four  days of the season remain, and of those only a few a presenting opportunities for me to actually get out and go after a gobbler.  If there is any positive to be taken in this late season scramble, it is that most people have given up by now…either because they can’t stand the mosquitoes or because they (unlike me) are not abject failures in the sport of turkey hunting.
So, weather permitting, I’ll be wrangling my gear up for one last push into the Halton forests (work and family commitments won’t allow one last epic road trip) and I hope that my luck there is good.
I’ll keep you all posted

Springtime Blues

So this weather is officially ruining me.  In my neck of the woods, there’s no forecast for a let up in this ungodly rain until at least next Tuesday.
I might consider building an ark…finding two of every animal would probably be easy, with the exception of any damn wild turkeys, because since my encounter just over a week ago it appears that they have all migrated to sunnier (and drier) climes.  I’m not even seeing hens, and I seem to be a hen-calling expert for God’s sake.
Yep, drizzle and thundershowers off an on all the way through the Victoria Day long weekend=hard slogging for those hunting wild turkeys.  Of course this may all change, but it probably won’t.
Everyone I know is telling me not to put too much stock in the forecasts because “no one can really predict the weather”…ohhhh, I beg to disagree.  When it comes to predicting the kind of weather that makes turkey hunting a baffling ordeal, these weathermen (or women, I’m an equal opportunist in the blame game) have my number.  Sure they’re wrong all the time when I need a warm sunny evening for a soccer match, or if I need rain to help my lawn grow, but as soon as I want calm, dry, semi-mild days for turkey hunting their meteorological instincts miraculously become bang-on and all they see in their crystal balls and Doppler radars is rain, and wind, and more rain, and maybe some lightning to really make it interesting for those of us carrying around 28 inch steel gun-barrels.
And this is the best damn time for turkey hunting!!  Arrrgh!  The leaves are on just enough to help with hiding a hunter, but not quite dense enough to conceal the movement of an approaching turkey.  The weather is mild enough to make hunting with just shirtsleeves and vest comfortable, but not so hot and sticky that the blackflies and mosquitoes reign hell on the unsuspecting turkey hunter reclined against a tree. Best of all, a lot of hens have been bred and toms are out trolling for available jennies…at least the gobblers not fully educated by this point are out trolling.
And I here I sit in my dimly lit basement, playing my harmonicas and tapping listlessly away at a keyboard amidst a pile of turkey-hunting gear, pining to hit the woods but imprisoned by precipitation.  I can hear you hard-core guys (or at least more hard-core than I) scoffing at me now…
“Suck it up princess, a little rain never hurt anyone” they’ll say.  Others will crack out this gem…”You can’t shoot a turkey if you’re sitting on your couch” or my favourite “Turkeys don’t mind the rain, they’ll move around anyways.”
All this may be true…in fact I’m sure it is, but it is the crippling combination of cold, wind, and precipitation that has made this last week (and by the looks of things, next week) into such a hellish experience. 
If a turkey could hear me calling to him over the howling wind and driving rain, I certainly could not hear him gobbling back.  If a bird were out wandering in this morass of unpleasantness, I’d be so dang soaked and wind-bitten by the time I stumbled across him (again, because hearing a bird gobbling is a near-impossibility right now) that I’d be hard pressed to hold my gun level, what with my uncontrollable shivering.  And worst of all, after every hunt I have to take my 870 apart (admittedly still a better prospect than disassembling an autoloader) and dry/clean/lubricate the whole darn thing and then put it all back together…as I’ve said before I’m not what anyone would dub “mechanically-inclined” so this is really a comedy of errors for me…except a comedy is funny; this just makes me borderline suicidal.  For this reason, this last one is not an experience I relish doing more than two or three times a year…I’ve already done it four times this turkey season.  Bah.
Okay, I’m done complaining.  The weather has been bad, but I can’t control that.  Unless I can find a suitable one off day, I’ve made peace with being holed up in my basement watching turkey hunting videos…fair enough Mother Nature, fair enough.
The darkest hour is just before dawn, so they say so here’s hoping that this uhh…fecal…weather is just a blip and that it moves on before expected.  Maybe I’m just building up good karma in my cosmic ledger and I’ll be repaid with being able to shoot some kind of mutant 25lb tom turkey with four beards and 2-inch spurs on the last minute of the 2011 season.
That’s pretty unlikely, but hope is all I’ve got…hope and the unfortunate mental illness that is being an addicted turkey hunter.

Simcoe County Bust

Nope, this is not a short note about a police take-down, or any other permutation of the term “bust” (use your imagination)…this is just a quick note to update on this past weekend’s turkey trip to the Simcoe County region.

It was wet and I did not see or hear a turkey (neither did my Dad) in the Simcoe County Forests of the Springwater and Tiny Townships…nor did we have any luck at a private landowner’s property where we have permission in the Oro area.  It was drizzly off and on for the whole of Saturday (and no Sunday gun hunting to boot!) and aside from a really excellent peameal bacon and cheese hamburger at Steeler’s Restaurant & Pub in Elmvale there was not much good news to speak of.  I just got wet and so did all my gear.

I did see two birds that I’d never seen before (while turkey hunting or otherwise) which was cool.  One was a Baltimore Oriole…unmistakeable with its sharp orange and black plumage as it darted through the low shrubs.  The other was an American Bittern that flew in and perched in a tree not more than twenty yards from my setup and croaked and wheezed its characteristic call for about ten minutes before it flew with another of its kind.

Might be hitting the Bruce Peninsula again this coming weekend (which is a long weekend in Canada for those in parts beyond my nation’s borders.

I have a very livid bone to pick with some animal ethicist articles I read over the weekend, but its late and I’m sleepy so I’ll vent about those later this week in a “Taboo of the Day” post.