Sunday, May 6, 2012

Turkey Troubles

In Montana, there are many cures for spring fever. Along with a variety of fishing opportunities, there are also spring bear and turkey hunting seasons to make time for. While I don't hunt bear, I do manage to fit in an annual trip to southeast Montana to chase gobblers. Turkey hunting requires favorable weather more than any other variable. Wind makes calling impossible and rain in southeast Montana makes the roads greasy and impassable, not allowing us to get to our remote honeyholes. So, after postponing our trip the previous weekend, we juggled our schedules and grabbed our shotguns. We had received reports that turkey numbers were down, but assumed that we would still find plenty of birds. Our first morning was as perfect as forecasted. No wind, clear skies and moderate temperatures. Immediately after stepping out of the truck, we heard a Tom gobble in the distance. Brian, Ryan and I grabbed our decoys, calls and guns, and sneaked into the Custer National Forest woods. After closing the distance between us and the birds, the two Toms were clearly "henned up", seemingly sharing the four hens between the two of them. One hen started to make her way to investigate our calls, giving us the hope that she would lead the Toms are way. But, not the case.
The rest of the weekend would lead to more disappointment. We put many miles on, by both hiking and mountain biking quietly on trails closed to motor vehicles. Turkey droppings and tracks were noticeably absent everywhere we explored. We only had three responses in two and a half days of calling and none of those were fruitful. Even the number of "backyard birds" that we usually see behind ranch houses and feedlots were scarce. While it was great to get out and be in the woods in May, we all were yearning for that magic moment when an interested Tom comes toward the hunter and a clean kill is made. Unfortunately, that may have to wait until next spring.