Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Seasons

It's funny the difference two turkey seasons can make: Last spring, a designated 2007 Maine "B Season" hunter, I returned to an area where I'd found gobblers while scouting between a successful run to west Texas for turkeys (April 9 tom), and before hunting the New Hampshire opener unsuccessfully. A Wyoming trip followed that (took a high-meadow strutter on May 8, then watched my buddy Jonathan Harling drop a 24# Merriam's, easily the prettiest and biggest of that subspecies I've ever seen). After that, Maine. The birds were still there. Here's the short of it: I hunted them (a fine longbeard and bull jake) on May 15, May 17, and May 18 during the second week of the B option. I passed on the jake, and nearly pulled the trigger on the longbeard numerous times the first two days. The third outing, a rainy one, I heard nothing, bumped a different jake, and actually watched a pair of Canada geese breed in the field in front of me--a first. The 2007 B season closed, and I could hunt the last (fifth) week of the season w/ the others still carryin' a tag. In the meantime, I chased Granite State gobblers--they survived that season as far as I was concerned. Maine's last week arrived: I hunted the 28th, the 29th, and June 1. Though it closed the next day (I had a writing class to teach), I called in those two that late June 1 morning, and with the longbeard hammering and popping into strut at 30 yards, heard but not seen in thick green foliage, I had to walk away when the curtain closed at noon.

Enter, the 2008 Maine spring turkey season: April 28. An "A Season" hunter, I got out late due to family duties (7:15 a.m.), located birds not long after that, called three in, and had the strutter  by the feet at 7:58. Forty-three minutes. It's been a season of calling jakes to the gun (and passing on them--Texas and South Dakota were like that this year), of taking a fine Badlands longbeard with my buddy Gary Sefton, and watching him drop one not long after that--his second of two on that Western trip. Yesterday in New Hampshire (closes May 31) I got a hen fired up, and called her across a fence, but she wasn't shadowed by a strutting gobbler as I had hoped.

Turkey hunting is like that.

--Steve Hickoff