I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good! Spring Turkey 2011

To say the weather has been a factor in this young spring turkey season is an understatement. With high temps hovering at least ten degrees below…

To say the weather has been a factor in this young spring turkey season is an understatement. With high temps hovering at least ten degrees below averages, snow, wind, rain, and clouds, all these factors have equated to an unusually late spring. With a late spring comes a delay in “normal” turkey activity, including but not limited to gobbling, hen nesting, and responsiveness to calls. The perfect storm has brewed up a heck of a hunt for those lucky enough (or unlucky enough in this instance), to draw the early seasons. 

I have never experienced such an overall lack of gobbling and responsiveness to calling as I have this spring. My conclusions have also been backed up by the experiences of numerous other hunters across Michigan this year. Here is the story of a bird gifted to me by nothing else other than luck and the grace of God.
The weather forecast for Thursday morning shined brightly upon me. After 3 days or snow, wind and rain, a calm sunny day with seasonal temps was going to be absolutely glorious, and glorious it was, with a brilliant sunrise. Before the colorful treat, another treat greeted me…gobbling! And lots of it! The birds felt as good as I did about the break in the weather. Unfortunately for me the birds were very reluctant to come to calling, and the initial morning hunt ended with 2 awesome toms closing the distance to 75 yards, only to be ripped away by an extremely vocal and jealous hen.
1030 AM found me on the road, enroute to a new spot. The great weather had provided me with an unusually motivated vigor. I approached each stop with an absolute certainty that I’d come across a hot bird. The second stop of my tour gave me just what I desired, a close, eager gobble (actually 2)! It came from a spot that had I had never gotten a gobble before, let alone midday. I quickly gathered my gear and formulated a plan on the spot. I knew from preseason studying of aerial photography that the gobblers were near the south end of a CRP field on state land. I moved several hundred yards through the thick and positioned on the north end of the field and gave a calling sequence. I was met with silence. It was dead calm, and I could literally hear the robins rustling leaves 100 yards away. I quickly grew impatient and after 20 uneventful minutes, crept to the edge of the field. I slowly moved about five yards into the field and stopped near a small sapling. Just as I prepared to give a calling sequence I caught movement on the abutting ridge about 75 yards from me. It was two birds silently creeping my direction. I slowly dropped to one knee and shouldered my trusty 12 gauge. I knew the birds were males but because they had not strutted and their chests were obscured by the tall grass, I did not know if they were jakes or toms. Keeping completely silent because the birds were obviously headed to where I last called from, the black shapes materialized in the tall grass. I let the first bird pass at 25 yards because I could not pick out a beard. I turned my attention to the second bird in a futile search for a beard in the tall grass. A quick glance at the first bird, which was now 20 yards from me to my left, revealed a dangling beard. “That’s not a jake!” I silently screamed to myself. I now had to nearly impossible task of turning a nearly 200 pound camouflage “bush” with zero cover towards the bird and make an accurate shot. I achieved the move and successfully anchored a beautiful spring Michigan tom with a healthy dose of number 5’s to the head and neck region!

Some might call this hunt luck but I’d like to call it well luck I guess! Never before had I located birds at this spot, let alone at noon. It was a small miracle the birds did not see me as I walked into the CRP field in the WIDE OPEN on a dead quiet sunny day, and finally it took an act of the dear Lord himself to keep the gobbler(s), which undoubtedly saw me swing my death stick in the direction of his head, from flying to the next section before I sent a fatal beehive of lead into his mainframe. I know it’s a cliché, but I’ll close in saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good”!