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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, May 13, 2015

Mid-season turkey tips

The Spring Turkey Season is approximately half over and after a slow start for many hunters, the action has picked up a bit. A lot more hunters have gotten birds, although many of the ones that have talked to me have said that they have bagged jakes or two year old birds. Most of the mature toms have flocks of hens with them now.
This can present an extra challenge. Some of the veteran hunters have resorted to making some sharp cackling or cutting calls to raise the curiosity or the ire of some territorial hens and draw the flock closer. Knowing where the flock likes to travel to their strutting ground can be helpful. If the hunter gets close to their route it is easier to call the tom a little ways from the flock to within gun range.
With the emergence of leaves on the trees last weekend, most areas are now in full foliage. Remember that with all the foliage on the trees, the sounds of the gobbles may be muffled. That big tom that sounds like he did a couple weeks ago will actually be much closer. This can present an extra challenge since he can often spot you from the treetops and remain on the roost instead of flying down. Or if he can look down and not see a decoy in the area that the calling sounds are coming from, he will be suspicious and not come to that area.
It also gets light earlier than it did a two weeks ago so allow extra time or pick a sheltered route to your destination so the wary tom will not make out your shadowy figure in the pre-dawn light. If he does, you can bet that he will not be coming down in that area or responding to your call.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to hunt on Grindstone Island on the St. Lawrence River and that was a unique experience. Only my friend Dan Ladd bagged a turkey but it was interesting and saw birds.
Monday morning Dan called me to tell me the good news that he had gotten his second tom. Dan was using a new, innovative set of decoys from Bass Pro Shops called the Crazy Jake and Mating Hen. Not only are they realistic looking but they are animated and operated by remote control. The idea is that they will provoke a jealous tom into action when he sees the younger jake with the hen.
I had seen them previously and was impressed with the looks and action. Dan proved to me that they really work. Early in the morning he was calling and a big tom responded. However it came to the top of a ridge and hung up there. It fanned, strutted and called while it expected the hen to come to him. Since the tom would not come any closer, Dan then activated the jake decoy and pivoted it so that it faced the big tom up on the ridge. Then the turned the jake away from the tom and towards the hen.
That was all it took to infuriate the big tom and it started down the ridge towards the decoys. Dan bagged it at a distance of 30 yards. The bird weighed 21 pounds and had a 9 ½ inch beard.
Youth Turkey Hunt: The Federated Sportsmen Club’s of Oneida County, Region 6 ECOs, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oneida County Sherriff’s Department and New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame teamed up to hold its fifth annual youth turkey hunt. A total of 25 youth participated in the hunt.
Safety day was held April 11 at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club where youth and their parents attended. A safety and regulations presentation was given by ECO Ric Grisolini. Tim Furner from Gander Mountain and the NWTF demonstrated the setup of turkey decoys and calling techniques. The youngsters patterned their shotguns under the instruction of ECO Mike Dangler, a certified Firearms instructor.
Seven turkeys were harvested on April 25, the first morning of the hunt. Sam and Logan Campbell were teamed up for that hunt. As luck would have it two nice toms came into their decoys. Once both birds were in range they scored a double. Both birds weighted over 24 pounds and had beard lengths of 9 ½ and 8 ½ inches with ¾ inch spurs. This hunt was videotaped so the two brothers will always have that memory of hunting together. All the youth saw turkeys that morning but most hung just outside their range. The largest turkey harvested that day was 25 pounds with double beards of 9 ¼ inches and 5 ¾ inches and 1 5/8 inch spurs
On the second morning of the youth hunt ECO’s and mentors took out thirteen youngsters. They harvested three birds and there were a couple misses. The largest bird that day was 21 pounds with an 8 ½” inch beard and spurs of 1” inches long. The youth all had a great time and received lunch after the hunt.
A big thank you goes to the following groups or organizations for their donations for this year’s hunt: New York Conservation Officer Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Gander Mountain, Mountain Hollow Game Calls and Mr. Steve Heerkens. Another big thank you goes to the Environmental Conservation Officers, Oneida County Sherriff’s and local sportsmen and women mentors who took the time to take a youth hunting. Thanks also go to the cooks for the event, Brian Day and Larry Chandler, and to the Cassety Hollow Club for the use of their club and to all their members that brought food for the two days of hunting.
Vernon Rod and Gun Club Chicken Barbeque: The Vernon Rod and Gun club will hold a chicken barbeque on Saturday, May 16, rain or shine. The event will be from noon until all are meals are gone. You can eat in or take out service is available. Menu includes half a roast barbequed chicken, coleslaw, salt potatoes, roll and dessert. Support youth and community activities and enjoy a delicious meal.
Paddlefest: This year’s Paddlefest will be held in Old Forge the weekend of May 15 – 17, beginning at noon on Friday, May 15. A change from previous events is that all the sales and booths will be at the Paddlefest store complex just south of Old Forge. Kayaks, canoes and Stand Up Paddleboards will be at the Old Forge Waterfront for test paddling. A shuttle service will be provided. There will be free seminars and clinics and classes in kayaking for a modest fee. There is also a catch and release pike fishing contest with a fishing kayak as the top prize. Details and online registration are available at the website
Friends of NRA Banquet: The Madison County Friends of NRA Banquet will be held Saturday, May 16 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. In addition to dinner, there will be games, silent auctions, raffles and live auctions. Funds raised go to support local programs such as shooting ranges, women and youth programs.
BPS Go Outdoors Event: Bass Pro Shops Go Outdoors Event will be held weekends of May 16 - 17 and May 23 - 24 at the store in north Utica. The weekend of May 16 and 17 will feature free kids’ activities including kids crafts, free fun photo downloads, Boy Scout demonstrations and Adventure Scavenger Hunt. The weekend of May 23 and 24 will have free family activities including cooking demos and sampling, and how to lessons on capable kayaking, where to go for local family outings, campfire cooking and planning for camping with kids. Check the website for dates and times of each event.
St. Lawrence Pike Fishing: Pike fishing was very slow last weekend on the St. Lawerence River. Earlier I had reported that water temperature there was approaching 47 degrees. However last weekend the temperature was lower, instead of higher, than the week before. We found pike in depths just off the spawning areas but most of them just ignored our variety of lures. It will take warmer water to increase the activity and signal the start of spawning.


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