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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

OUTDOORS: Get your Thanksgiving turkey the traditional way

Last week, Bob Washbon and his son-in-law, Emir (“Rod”) Rodriguez, took a break from bow hunting for deer. It was midday and deer weren’t moving and evidently they wanted to save the smaller ones for Terry Yardley. They decided to go turkey hunting instead, and were scouting some farm fields that Bob was familiar with.
As they sat along a brushy hedgerow, they spotted a flock of turkeys feeding in a nearby field. Since the birds were moving away from them, Bob had to pull out his turkey call and rely on his vast repertoire of calling skill. As they birds came with range of their hiding position, Bob coached Rod when the birds were in range to shoot. One well-aimed shot from Rod dropped a large hen.
It was Rod’s first wild turkey and he was justifiably excited. He exclaimed, “Wow! I am a hunter for life!”
Even if you are a veteran hunter, it is still exciting. Although some people see the birds feeding near the road and assume that they are easy to get. But that is because the turkeys do not associate cars as predators, unlike the sight of a person or animal. They have excellent eyesight and hearing, and they are naturally wary.
Unlike spring turkey hunting during the mating season when hunters call in a tom turkey by imitating a hen turkey, the toms are not responding to mating calls. During the fall season, any bird of either sex is legal game. In many areas of the state, including much of the southern zone you may take two birds. Check the map in the current hunting guide for exact WMUs and the season limit.
Normally the hunter is dressed in camouflage and scouts for a large flock of wild turkeys feeds steadily across the fields. Suddenly from the hedgerow a hunter leaps, flapping his arms wildly and yelling as he races towards the turkeys, scattering them in all directions.
No, it is not some hunter venting his frustration at lack of success, nor some person going over the edge because his football team lost again or even the effect of watching too many “reality shows” on TV. It is a common tactic among turkey hunters who pursue these wily birds in the fall season.
One method is to scatter the flock quickly in many directions by tactics such as this. Then the hunter quickly settles down in some concealed spot, waits a short while and attempts to call the flock back together.
Since autumn flocks are usually composed of several family groups that have banded together, the majority of the birds will be the young birds of that year. These birds will quickly be disoriented and begin calling to locate others of the flock. The most effective call that hunters use at this time is the “kee kee” call, or the shrill call of a young lost turkey.
Other tactics at this time involve scouting to find the feeding habits or routes of flocks of turkeys and then trying to ambush them as they move along. Usually the birds will be moving and feeding out of range, so some calling is necessary to get the birds to come and investigate and bring them into gun range.
Another tactic that some veteran turkey hunters use in the fall is challenging the toms or the boss hens in a flock. Turkeys often respond to aggressive calling or challenges by “intruders” by coming over to show them who is the boss.
Scouting is important in autumn to find where turkey flocks are roosting or feeding. However the birds may not always keep a commuters schedule in roosting and feeding in the same areas. Studies have shown that flocks often wander two miles in a single day and may cover a wide area in a two or three day cycle.
In agricultural areas, crops such as corn are popular food sources for wild turkeys. Alfalfa or other hay fields are also popular because the birds feed on the green grasses as well as insects found there. Mast crops such as choke cherries, pin cherries, acorns, beechnuts or apples are always favorites of the wild turkeys. Checking for the availability of these food sources as well as signs that turkeys frequent the areas will help put you find the right area. This year there is a good crop of soft mast as well as acorns and nuts in many areas.
There is some question about the turkey population in many areas due to the wet spring and survival of poults the past few years. The cold weather and frequent rains mean that some nests weren’t successful, and evidently a number of chicks did not survive. Another factor contributing to fewer birds the past few years is the number of predators, including raccoons, and the fact that with damp conditions predators can easily trace the scent and attack hens on their nests. But there should be enough birds around to give hunters another challenge to make their autumn days enjoyable.
Grab your camo gear, your shotgun and your turkey calls and give fall hunting a try. Whether you are cooking one for Thanksgiving or just having turkey breasts for an evening meal, keep in mind that the meat has much less fat so be careful to use moist cooking methods and avoid overcooking it. Remember when you get one that there is a lot less meat than the birds raised in some pen, bred for weight and fed a hefty diet. But that means you won’t have to worry about eating leftovers for several days like we traditionally do at Thanksgiving!
Deer Hides Wanted: For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at (363-2913) for information and hours.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will be discussing plans for the Fur Rondy at Nichols Pond and at Solon at future meetings. There will be a fur sale on December 21 at the Pompey Rod and Gun Club. The next meeting will be Thursday, November 14 at the Pratts Falls Park in Manlius. Food is served at 5:30 p.m., with the meeting to follow at 6:00. New members are welcome. For more information contact President Al LaFrance at 682-2050.
Compass Points: Remember when hunting the big woods, especially in the North country, you should always carry a compass. It is a simple, yet vital tool to avoid getting lost or at least travelling a long distance in the wrong direction. Although many of the new cell phones have apps that include a compass, you can never count on cell phone service in the north woods. One major thing to remember when you are using a compass is that having it near electronics such as a radio in your pocket can often cause the needle to be off anywhere from 30 to 45 degrees. When using a compass, be sure to turn off radios and phones and hold it as far away as possible.
Clarus LED Lantern: A flashlight is an essential tool for an emergency kit at home, in your car or RV and no outdoor enthusiast would be caught without one for hunting, camping or boating. Holding the light while trying to accomplish a task that requires two hands can be frustrating. The new UCO Clarus LED Lantern solves this problem with a collapsible and compact light that can function as a flashlight or a lantern. The UCO Clarus LED Lantern provides 150 lumens of light in a four-ounce (including battery weight) multi-use package. The frosted globe of the Clarus LED Lantern provides diffused light that is easy to read or work by, and it easily slides up for lantern mode and down for flashlight mode. Powered by three AAA batteries, the Clarus LED Lantern provides up to 70 hours of light.


Blogger Tom Watson said...

Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Turkey

February 4, 2014 at 3:42 PM 

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