Turkey season was an experience

Published 10:32 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

I should start out by saying no turkeys were harmed in the writing of this column. The 2024 Spring Turkey season was one to remember but still left me desiring one thing, a gobbler within shotgun range. 

I should clarify my fourth turkey hunting season was not a disappointment by any means. A week before the season, I had a gobbler and a hen about pitch down on top of me as I listened for birds. I heard drumming for the first time that morning. I also spooked a gobbler as I walked to check a trail camera back in February and I think it made me jump more than it did him.

Opening day was special and disappointing. I heard a gobbler just hammering in a tree, he gobbled about 25 times before flying down and walking the other way, up a ridge. Turkeys are good at humbling hunters that way. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

I saw two turkeys display with their fans and heads turning blue from about 200 yards away. Neither had any interest in coming to my calling as they had several hens in tow. 

On a public land draw hunt, I encountered several soaking thunderstorms, turkeys sunning in a powerline right of way and hens drying off on a logging road. I estimated I saw 10 turkeys on that hunt and it was good enough for me even if my clothes were soaked through. 

Most of April was oddly quiet this year. Either the turkeys around my property were killed early this year or they were henned up and not interested in gobbling. My last weekend hunt made up for it. 

After working with a gobbler for two hours, he gobbled several times in the tree, a hen walked up within 10 yards of me. For the next 30 minutes, I fought the urge to move. I prayed the hen could not hear my heart thumping in my chest, or see my eyes move as I followed her movements. She was fat, healthy and quiet. People may not appreciate how stealthy turkeys move and how well camouflaged they are. 

The gobbler never flew down from his roost to me and my buddy Steve. It was smart on the turkey’s part. 

Once the hen walked up the ridge, we followed and came across a copperhead, one of Mississippi’s venomous snakes, and admired him safely from a distance. We did not manage to strike up a gobble and moved on to another property. 

Steve showed me where he had used prescribed fire to kill out some midstory of cane, sweetgums and other undesired plant species. He was excited about the presence of new growth and turkeys using the area.

As he walked around looking at plant response, I noticed a canebrake rattlesnake and struggled to get any words of warning out. Whatever I said was enough to keep Steve from stepping on the snake. It is the first time I’ve ever encountered a rattlesnake in the wild and the first time I’ve ever heard one rattle. We also stumbled across two different turtles in the burn unit. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were the last two days of Turkey season and barring a last minute harvest, Saturday’s encounter with two snakes, two turtles and a turkey hen was the best hunt of the year. I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a friend, seeing spring green-up unfold over weeks and wildlife. 

Now my attention turns to habitat work until the short spring squirrel season provides a respite. I encourage you to get out and experience the outdoors. You don’t have to hunt to enjoy it.