Even though it is January and the snow is covering the ground, my thoughts began to drift towards spring and turkey season. Wild turkeys are an example of a successful program by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
In the spring of 1954 the DNR released 50 birds in a select area and over time additional restoration attempts continued. However, by 1964 approximately 2,000 birds had become established in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
Fast forward to today and wild turkeys are evident almost anywhere in the Lower Peninsula. They can be found in the suburbs or in the country and as many a suburbanite has found, they can be aggressive and will camp out at the bird feeder.
Often when folks think of turkeys they think of Thanksgiving but for those of us who find ourselves in their habitat, we see a bird that has keen eyesight, excellent hearing and can startle an individual as they either fly up to, or down from their roost. A bird of that size makes a fair amount of noise as it moves through the air.
Around 1995 two friends and I decided to take up turkey hunting. While we had hunted other game for many years and were successful, this undertaking would prove to be humiliating.
We hunted hard for three days and the only birds we saw were alongside the highway. The next year we made a momentous leap as we actually saw a few birds in the woods. While we considered this a step up, we also realized that we were far from being able to call a bird or even get close enough to get a shot.
Fast forward two more years. Our motley trio had progressed to that ultimate stage where we could be referred to as, “The Three Stooges of Turkey Hunters”.
Early one morning we set up in concealment and I began to call. Immediately I heard a male (Tom) turkey reply and as he was quite far away I spent the next hour trying to entice him into my shooting range. Eventually the bird came within range but he was in a small ravine and I had no shot. He headed towards my partner. The only problem was my partner was hard of hearing and never heard the bird responding to my call and therefore missed his opportunity for a shot.
Since that time I have taken a couple of birds and have been successful in calling birds in. The most rewarding part of this sport is not just in taking a bird. The most rewarding part is when the bird responds and comes within view because I’ve called him in.
Also, I normally hunt during May which is when the woods come alive and I see does and fawns and even once I watched some black bear cubs playing on a hillside. It has been said that if a turkey had the same sense of smell as the whitetail deer, a person would never get a shot at one!
Turkey hunting is, without a doubt, the most challenging hunting I do.
Try it. You’ll like it