Getting ready for turkey season

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It wasn’t that long ago that most of us couldn’t believe we were now in a year that didn’t start with 19.

The 2000s had become real and a part of daily life. Even now, we are drawing close to the end of the first decade of the new century. And we enjoy it by living. That is all we have to do. By living everything that the new year, decade and this new century will be ours. And then we get cheesecake.

The first of last week I went to Montgomery, Ala., to a hunting and fishing show, and we did have cheesecake for dessert each day. One day we had key lime and the next, strawberry. Other fine food preceded these desserts, so there was no way we were going to go hungry. And then I get back to Bainbridge, where we always eat good. I counted those few days as an extension of the holidays, as I think I was still gaining weight. As long as it is down by May.

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The show was a good show and was centered around products for the fisherman as well as the turkey hunter, turkey season being in spring. Many years ago we had a fall turkey season, but it went the way of the buffalo. Other states still have a fall turkey season, but they have a bigger population of turkeys. We are growing each year in the number of turkeys out there. During the last few years, the limit has been increased from two to three gobblers, gobblers being the toms or male turkeys. It is close to a major sin to kill a hen, as they are responsible for increasing the population. That should continue to happen as long as it doesn’t flood or just rain a bunch. Young turkeys are not smart enough to get in out of the rain. So see that you and your hunting partners are a lot smarter than the turkeys you pursue.

I didn’t see any new stuff for the turkey hunter, so we should expect to see some closer to the opening of the season. There were a few new decoys, the best-looking one was the successor to the “Pretty Boy.” It is from Knight and Hale and looks more realistic than the “Pretty Boy,” even though it did look good and attracted a lot of toms to the end of a gun blast. There is a matching hen decoy to go with the new tom. They are available as a pair or separate. A hunter with a pair of these decoys will be ready to get his first bird of the year on opening day of the season come March. If you still don’t get a bird with them, you probably need to trade in your luck for someone else’s, or give up altogether.

There are still plenty of turkey guns out there to be bought. In the past it was a three-inch magnum that was the desired weapon. Of course now, 3.5-inch magnum that has power right up there with a 10-gauge. All the gun companies are trying to build big guns with less recoil. The big boys have quite a punch on the back end as well as the front end of the gun. Porting helps calm down the back punch. A good pad also helps, but balancing the gun is a big start. A good balanced gun that feels good on the shoulder is a good start toward being able to shoot one of the big guns more comfortably.

Some of the older hunters make fun of us trying to get the guns to kick less. All they tell us is to call the bird up to within 20 feet or even closer to the front end of the gun. Then a high-brass 20-gauge shell will take him out because the entire load of the shell will be centered in the head of the big turkey. We know folks that have done that because a 20-gauge gun is the only one they had and it was either that, or go hungry. Not many folks down here in our part of the country ever went hungry.

Folks ask me what the best turkey call is and truly, they are the mouth calls. You can have a gobbler coming toward you and still call if you have to, without him detecting any movement. The only thing moving will be your lips and they can be hidden behind a camo mesh mask to keep the bird from seeing them move. Then you can choose the time to lift and aim your shotgun. If the gobbler looks off to the side, pick up your gun. With a cedar box or slate, you will have to use both hands to call and the gobbler, even at a distance, may be able to see the movement. It’s important to camo up and sit as still as possible. You are in their element, so try not to add to their advantage. The good and safe part is they won’t shoot back.

New fishing stuff next week.