With one card still in your pocket and perhaps friends or family in need of help, you can go out again, but things have changed. The birds you explored, watched and hunted seem to have suddenly disappeared. Where did they go? There are many reasons for sudden absence and knowing them can be helpful.
You pull to a target location on the eve of the hunt, step out into the increasing darkness and give the best performance of the barred owl’s call – Who cooks for you Who cooks for you? – But there is no response. Just because they don’t answer, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The one who can determine when and why turkeys devour or not, will be a rich man. Maybe it’s the weather, the temperature, or the barometric pressure, or maybe they’re just not in the mood. It’s a gamble, but if they’re constantly using an area, it might be worth giving it a shot the next morning. Or you might be better off looking for a different site.
Fortunately, you have such a place, you encountered birds on a regular basis but could not close the deal. You sneak under cover of darkness, waiting for the dawn chorus to be devoured, but that doesn’t happen. You spy a few chickens in the field but none of the miscreants are heard or seen even when the sun rises in the sky. Where did they go?
You are not the only hunter in the forest. It’s entirely possible that someone else snuck in while you were away and you have better luck. Or perhaps they failed to kill, but disturbed the birds so much that they moved elsewhere. Turks tend to be fairly regular in terms of their daily patterns, but it doesn’t take much to get rid of them. If there is one sand in the herd, that location may be done for the season…or maybe not.
You can try another place and a more patient approach, stand up at the edge of the field and wait, hoping the birds will come as they once did. A vigil is rewarded with seeing only one chicken, and it quickly slithers into the woods. Where are the dogs? Where are the other chickens?
Most spring turkey seasons are due to start after the majority of chickens have begun nesting. As the clutch approaches completion, they spend increasingly less time with the herd and become less interested in the evolutions of suitors. Toms aren’t ready to take off yet, so with few or no potential mates in the vicinity, they may seek greener pastures. They are gone, but they may not have gone very far.
You wake up one morning to the sound of rain driven down the windows by the wind. It wouldn’t be fun, but with limited days to search for you. The forest is filled with the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and raindrops flying on the leaves and the ground, but not devouring. The sun rises invisible behind a curtain of gray clouds and no turkey has yet arrived. be patient. Bad weather often delays their daily routine and they will last longer on the extremities. Eventually, the need to breed and feed will overcome the stalemate and they will join the game.
The season is over and it looks like you’ve run out of options but all is not lost. As mentioned above, sometimes goblins aren’t in the mood to devour, especially as the days get longer and warmer. It might be time to go old school. Pick a potential location, set up two companies and shout three times on a box call. Then wait. It may take minutes, or hours, but if there’s a gun within earshot, and it’s too tilted, it will eventually find you.
Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Bownal. It can be accessed at:
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