Thursday, May 24, 2012
Turkey season where I live has now come and gone. Prior to the season opening, I was extremely excited about getting a chance at an Eastern. Last spring I got spoiled by hunting only twice and killing my first bird. This spring I got a chance to hunt on one of the quail plantations I currently work on. There was, however, a problem with this: The plantation is in Georgia. Being a Florida resident means that I’d get to pay the obscene fee for an non-resident Georgia big game license (yes, turkey apparently qualify as “big” game).
Now, I love to hunt (which I imagine no one could have guessed based off this website), but I’m not a die hard turkey hunter by any means. So when the opportunity presented itself for a few turkey hunts, I ended up passing. For some reason, the desire to kill a bird just didn’t outweigh the price tag of the out of state license.
But my 2012 turkey season didn’t end there. I happened to get invited to turkey hunt with one of my roommates on his cousin’s hunting lease. The property is actually in Florida, so when I got invited, I leaped all over the opportunity.
I honestly don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to turkey hunting. Last season my friend that took me did all of the calling. I simply sat under a tree and waited for the birds to show up. This season, however, I set out to change that up a bit. I went out and bought a slate and diaphragm call. I practiced quite a bit prior to making this hunt and was excited to put my turkey calling to the test.
So on a Saturday afternoon, my roommate and I drove out to his cousin’s property and got ready to kill a bird. We set up on the edge of a field where we were told some gobblers had been hanging out. With the decoy set up, we soon found suitable trees to sit underneath. Well…my friend found a good tree. I however, discovered that the only other tree within a mile radius of our decoy was of similar diameter to that of a toothpick. So I sat down underneath my twig of a tree and we began calling. It wasn’t long before I heard rustling and hushed curses coming from my friend. I glanced over to see him rolling around and trying to shake his shirt of something. It suddenly became clear to me that even though my tree was possibly the most uncomfortable thing I’d ever sat underneath, it beat the hell out of sitting in ants.
Fun fact about ants: They’re strong believers in karma. So while I silently laughed myself silly as my friend struggled with his bug problem, a second colony of ants was busy tunneling directly beneath me. It was only moments later that they decided to erupt from under the leaves and work their way straight up my pants.
So it may come as no surprise that we quickly decided that moving and calling was the way to go. We walked all around the property searching for turkey. After never hearing a single gobble, we ended up back at the same field we started at. This time we set up on the other side of the field and to our relief, found that there were no ants to be sat in. This time I took my turn at calling. Like usual, I left something of relative importance sitting inside the truck. This day, it happened to be my slate call. I did, however, still have my diaphragm call in my pocket. Now I’m not sure how many of you who are reading this have ever tried to use a diaphragm call, but it’s not exactly easy. It actually took me a few hours before I even figured out how to make noise with the thing, much less turkey noises.
The sun was just begging to dip below the tree line as I let loose with the first of series of frightening turkey calls. If you were to really use your imagination, it’s possible that my turkey calling sounded something like a hen. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of an imagination, so I busted out laughing when my call sounded like a mixture of hen being strangled and a very angry woman screeching at something. It wasn’t much of a surprise when nothing came to my call.
And as my luck would have it, the -only- gobble we heard after an entire afternoon of hunting came while we were driving back to the hunting lodge.
We awoke the next morning with plans to go after the bird we’d heard gobble the evening before. Setting out before light, we drove close to the area and quietly walked in. It wasn’t long after sunrise that we began to hear gobbles. Rather than risk having the birds think that someone was being murdered in the woods, my buddy decided to be the one to call with his slate call. After nearly an hour, it became clear that the gobbles weren’t getting any closer. We soon made the decision to move and began to work our way around the area close to where we had been the evening before.
After quietly stalking for close to an hour, we came up on the same field we had been set up on the day before. It wasn’t much of a surprise either that a big gobbler was busy strutting around -right- where we had been. I would have much rather sat in ants and killed that bird than sit there out of range, and watch him ignore all of our calls before walking away.
We searched around for a while longer and never got close to any other birds. And with a -long- walk back to the truck, I ended my 2012 turkey season without a bird. I’m honestly not upset about not taking a bird this year. Like I said before, I have yet to get the insatiable desire to turkey hunt. I definitely look forward to taking my first eastern in the coming years and maybe with a little bit more practice, I can get a few birds that think my calling really is another turkey and not just a couple of guys laughing at one another in full camo. Only next spring will tell.
Note: I'm really not sure what's going on with my blogger. It took me an eon to get the pictures into this post and I doubt they're even centered. My apologies for this. Hopefully I can find the problem soon.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
...And a new one begins.
Earlier this morning I finally graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Wildlife Ecology and a minor in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. My time spent at this school has been truly unforgettable and I wouldn't trade my experiences or time spent here for anything. I look forward to where my career leads me in the near future and am thankful that I even have the opportunity to work in this field. I owe a big thanks to my family and friends for having my back and helping me get to where I am today.