This could be a pretty busy week for hunters; there is something to hunt every day.
When bear season is over Tuesday night, fall turkey hunting comes back in for Thursday through Saturday. I know that for me, and I'm sure for many others, squeezing time in for all that hunting plus getting gear packed, food cooked for deer camp will be a challenge. Next Monday, of course, is the most-anticipated day in the hunter's calendar, the opener of rifle deer season. Whew!
I remember back to the distant past, when Thanksgiving Day was a day to hunt. My husband, son and I always spent the day hunting whatever was in season and then coming home to have hot dogs or whatever was quick for supper. That's how we chose to spend that day, and were very thankful to have it. Family did not understand our choice but we didn't care, it was the way we wanted to use the holiday, for a family excursion into the field.
Now that my husband has passed and my son living in another state, Thanksgiving Day is for me, a solitary day by choice; I spend the early morning of the day, not cooking a big turkey, but thanking God for the extreme blessings of my life. Then the rest of the day I spend getting ready to travel to deer camp. Friends invite me to their homes for dinner and I always decline; I must use that day to get ready for my week's vacation at deer camp. They don't understand that either, anymore than my family did years ago.
The anticipation of going to deer camp has never dimmed for me through the years. My son will call me the night before opening day and we will reminisce about opening days gone by. And I will be thankful, so thankful, to be allowed at least one more opening day.
For those of you who can manage some turkey hunting around the big dinner on Thursday and Black Friday shopping and other mundane things such as working, I have a tip for you. There are plenty of turkeys but there is also this year an abundance of food. Acorns, especially, and wild grapes, barberry and apples to name a few are all available for the scratching.
This means that turkeys do not have to travel far to find food. They fly down from roost, feed all day in a 100-yard circle and fly back up to roost. So it is up to the hunter to keep on the move until he runs into the birds. They are not paying much attention to calls they hear from afar, they are too busy gorging.
If you can get near a feeding flock without them spotting you first, and you can get them scattered you'll have some noisy fun for awhile but sitting around waiting and blindly calling, hoping a bird or birds will just show up is pretty futile this fall. So keep walking, stopping every now and then to waft out some yelps of kee-kees into the air and then listening for an answer will serve you best.
A friend and I spent a day parading over a lot of ground, seeing scratching and droppings everywhere, and finally managed to get a flock scattered about 3 p.m. They answered the kee-kees and yelps pretty strongly and 3 turkeys came in behind my friend, never making a single call, and so they got away. We stayed until dark and knew where they were roosted so we spent a sleepless night, anticipating the action we would have next morning.
The landowner, however, had met us after hunting hours were over to tell us of an estimated 300-pound black bear that had been hit on the highway in front of his house and had run up into the woods right where we had been hunting. He said he spent a lot of time looking for it but didn't find it.
We really didn't think much of it at all until the next morning when, by 5:30 we were back at the hunting place, standing by a big tree waiting for daylight. It can be dark and sort of lonely out there in the woods before the sun comes up.
When we heard the loud crack of a stick somewhere behind us, the same thought flashed into both of our minds - 'Oh, migosh! What if that is the wounded bear?'
So we went on alert, half expecting any moment for a bear to come charging. We wondered again what we were doing out there. Why weren't we home in bed? It seemed an inordinately long time until was even light enough to see at all. The thought of a bear charge, however, did not deter us from standing there in the hope of hearing the turkeys. Turkey hunters are indeed a demented lot.
We heard the turkeys. For about one minute. Then we heard no more. It was raining that morning and soon we were wet and chilly. Still we kept at it but went home thoroughly skunked. And a little embarrassed that two hunters who are obsessed by turkey hunting and who supposedly know what they are doing, could not coax a peep from those birds.
I hope this was not a preview of how deer season is going to be.