Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
Still not a fan of early mornings.
My feet hit the cold hardwood floors; my knees pop and crack and after a few steps; life is breathed back into my aching joints.
Driving to my old stomping grounds in the pre-dawn darkness, the wiper blades drag the annoying drizzle from my windshield with a screech. “Sunrise will be slow this morning”, I think to myself as a I take a slug from my Diet Coke hoping for a jolt a caffeine.
I pull into my spot, gravel popping under the tires. I silently close the car door and start my muddy march across the bean stubble. Even in the gray morning light, I can see the lush green growth taking over the barren field. A few warm days and a wet early spring has the weeds and grass jumping. The smell of wild onions fills the air.
My goal is the corner of the field. Every year, every turkey season, my goal is always the same corner. I lean up against the base of a big, straight Ash tree and wait. The sun is struggling to make it up the horizon and just a few streaks of pink and orange hint behind the thick gray clouds. The drizzling rain has let up now to just a sprinkle.
A perfect morning for chasing the big black birds.
As day breaks, a group of crows fire up somewhere down the holler and I know it won’t be long now. A barred owl answers the crow calls and ‘Tom’ has heard enough. One gobble, then another and another.
Every male turkey up and down the ridge thunders a call while perched safely on their roosts. One bird in particular sounds off a double gobble, thick and raspy, unique from the other Toms, I imagine in my mind that he’s the boss bird.
The crows shout back at the turkeys as if in some turf war with the birds.
The gray begins to lighten and the woods comes to life with songbirds. The trees new buds, soft and green look almost fuzzy. I think how thick this now open woods will be in a few short weeks once all the bushes and trees explode with new growth and leaves.
The toms still pounding out their calls, one after another, I hit my box call and let out a couple of yelps. The hen call draws immediate attention from suitors.
I listen to the old birds carrying on for a few more minutes and then make my retreat before the birds jump from the roost. I stick close to edge of the trees and try to stay out of sight.
Back at the car, I shake the mud from my boots and look over my shoulder. A few hundred yards behind, back at the corner, the black form a turkey appears, looking for love.
I grin with satisfaction and hope Mr. Tom and I will meet up in a couple of weeks at “the corner”.
- David Hewitt