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Silent (almost) Spring

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Silent (almost) Spring
Good morning, All~

I guess this is NDR - because it involves Turkeys and other non-webbed birds....






Silent (almost) Spring



This morning was a perfect day for hunting "the Sultan of Spring". There was almost no breeze, the air was dry - in the low 40s when I left the house - and the sky showed both a low half moon and lots of stars.



It was my third morning in the woods since our May 1 opener. Gobbling was all but absent on the other mornings - when my goal was to put a longbeard in front of a new hunter. We heard none at all on Day 1 and a single, half-hearted gobble late in the morning on Day 2.



Today was my first morning solo. And so, it was the first day I carried a gun - my Dad's venerable Winchester Model 50. He had me paint it camouflage in the 1970s. It shines much less than my "everyday gun" - my 1925 Model 12 - and so it's better in the spring woods against these eagle-eyed Toms.



I got in place by 4:45. Robins and Song Sparrows were already calling. Wood Thrushes and Veeries soon added their voices. A Snipe winnowed north of me. I ensconced myself in a "blind" of sorts. Yesterday afternoon I took a break from re-siding our car barn and spent some time on the Massey-Ferguson. I picked up some big Hemlock logs and arranged them in a little corral at the base of some big standing Hemlocks. The idea is to provide a bit more protection from prying eyes whilst I sit listening for Turks.







Ovenbirds soon began singing, and the Great Crested Flycatchers let go with their explosive "reep, reep" from high in the trees. I heard Black-throated Green Warblers for the first time this year. But, no gobbling from any quarter.



In many years, I can hear gobbling from 3 or 4 roosts. I only hunt our 67 acres - and so the roosts may not be within the borders. Nevertheless, I always hope to lure some overly trusting and lovelorn male to within my grasp. Finally, though, I detected a single gobble from the north and east. Not very hearty - perhaps a Jake - but worth my attention. I got down onto my cushion and completed my attire: facemask, fingerless gloves, hood up. It was still early so I did not call. However, I did spot a promising shape up in a tree, about 75 yards to the east. Sure the enough, the "possible squirrel nest" had 2 legs and then turned its head.



I watched the roosting turkey for about 45 minutes. I put my binoculars on it numerous times but could never be certain of its gender or age. The stern looked adult - when the tail was either fanned or hanging low. Try as I might, no beard could be seen on the bow. I was thinking a Hen without a nest. Since the bird seemed to ignore my seductive calling - on both box and diaphragm - the Hen Hypothesis gained weight. And, when I began to hear gobbling from another roost - way to the south - this bird was not moved to join in.









My goal for the morning was to watch the bird fly down. I was very disappointed that my New Hunter was not along to watch. Several minutes before it sailed, I began to hear a ruckus from my left - to the west. It sounded like a woodpecker knocking on dead limbs - but not quite. There was lots of noise and I could not help but wonder if other Turks were afoot.



Sure enough, within moments of the "rooster" gliding down - toward me but on the other side of a low rise - I began to hear at least 2 Hens cackling up a storm. And, as I slowly turned my head to the west - in their direction - I immediately spied a big bird. Perhaps 18 yards away, I thought I saw a bright blue-and-red head. My next surreptitious gaze saw the bird much closer, with a nice long beard jutting out. It was walking slowly north and soon was strolling behind a downed tree. I could see plenty of its head and neck and had the safe off and the bead in the right spot. But, I did not want to shoot just the head of a gobbler.



Although he had probably come to my call originally - and offered a superb shot had I known he was there - he now had another goal in mind. One of the cacklers strolled left to right at about 30-35 yards. I think she was joining the bird I watched fly down - most likely another hen. Strolling Tom was now focused on the real thing. (And, I finally heard a gobble. Not from him - but from behind him, down in a hollow.) When he finally emerged from behind the downed tree, Strolling Tom was in Full Battle Dress. Tail fanned, wings dragging, head tucked - moving in that "dreadnought" style that always amazes - both gunners and lady turkeys.



I followed his every step with the bead. It was a longer shot than I usually take - and I really had hoped to have New Hunter on the trigger - but the perfect morning sunshine was shining on his armor and I knew my Dad's gun and Kent Fasteel 3s were sufficient.


They were.







Photo session is over and now the feathers will fly - readying Tom for a dinner with friends.



SJS





Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Steve,

That was a great story! I really enjoyed it and it brought back many memories from this season too. Congratulations on a fine bird!!

Dani
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Steve

Congratulations!

U pluck yer wild turkeys. Two thumbs up.











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
I'm at work, but for a moment there I was tucked behind an old hemlock ...


Thanks!
___________________________________________

... a layer of burlap covers a multitude of sins

Located in Annapolis, MD
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Steve,
I am about to go back to work in SC. But as with others, for a few minutes, I was a spirit in the woods with you in the blind. Thank you friend!

Larry
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Ahhhh, that was such a fun read. I could almost smell the morning air. Such a wonderful time of year. Congratulations on a great Tom.

I will have a turkey virgin out tomorrow. Hopefully the birds cooperate.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I never know which is worse: the sorrow when you hit the bird, or the shame when you miss.
http://www.hillmandecoys.com
Mullica Hill NJ
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
congrads on a great bird and an even greater story.
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Is there a bit of Gordon Mac Quarrie in you my friend?
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Thanks for a great story.Felt i was there on every move.
No Turkeys here on Vancouver Island what a shame.
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
A nice read and a great, timeless photo. It would look great in B&W.


Great South Bay
West Sayville, N Y
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Good morning, All~

Thanks for the kind words - I am so glad others have enjoyed the story.

Tom:

Here 'tis in B&W:



All the best,

SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Quote Reply
SRe: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Steve - Loved the story! "Silent spring" just about sums up my entire seasons here in AL & TN this year. We carried quite a few birds home that didn't gobble or didn't gobble more than twice.
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Re: SRe: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Great read and photo's as usual. Always enjoy your stories.
Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Silent (almost) Spring In reply to
Steve,
We can always count on you for some great photo-journalism.Smile

Thanks for the story & pics.


MLBob

"Art is like an ill-trained Labrador retriever that drags you out into traffic." (Annie Dillard)

....Here's to Joe Wooster, who made me realize that the useful could and should be beautiful; and who firmly believed that decoy carvers were the last free men in America.

https://www.facebook.com/KOOIdecoy?ref=hl