2018-04-14 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Spring gobbler season is on the minds of many hunters, some of whom surely have the April 28 opener circled on their calendars.

Many experienced hunters have already been practicing their calling skills and con­ducting some preseason scouting. They know not go into the deep woods to call, realizing that if a bird answers, it might make those older toms suspicious.

They would rather travel country roads in the early morning and late evening hours and use a barrel owl call to locate turkeys that are still roosting. Most often the birds will an­swer, because they warn the rest of the flock about the nearby predator.

Let’s say you found that “boss gobbler,” but come opening morning you find yourself among 10 other hunters who have located the same bird. Unfortunately, your chances are now slim to none.

Good hunters try to find as many gobblers, in different areas, as they can. That way, they can change locations on any given day.


Pennsylvania’s turkey populations have been on a downswing in recent years, but there are ample numbers out there as hunt­ers approach the April 28 spring gobbler season opener. Preseason scout­ing can boost a hunter’s odds of success. 
Photo by Dave Wolf Pennsylvania’s turkey populations have been on a downswing in recent years, but there are ample numbers out there as hunt­ers approach the April 28 spring gobbler season opener. Preseason scout­ing can boost a hunter’s odds of success. Photo by Dave Wolf I have heard hunters that can call with great expertise, and also those that you can label a fake from far away.

On the other hand, I remember on one occasion hearing a call that sounded terrible. It was so close that I decided to stand up to make sure the other hunter saw me. Imagine how shocked I was to see a longbeard run­ning in my direction.

If a bird does bust you (and it will hap­pen), wait a week or two and return to the same spot. Fortunately, gobblers have short memories if left alone.

We are in a period of several consecu­tive years of declining turkey populations, as indexed by summer sightings and spring harvest density. This makes any potential impacts on reproduction or gobbler age structure of added concern.

Several of our surrounding states open their spring seasons one or two weeks earlier than Pennsylvania, but it is important to note that our hunter numbers, gobbler harvest rates, and total spring harvests -- and thus the potential negative effects of opening too early -- are far higher than those for most of our neighbors.

I can still remember calling in a nice gob­bler the very first time I hunted turkey. Hav­ing recently purchased my call, I was simply practicing with it in the woods.

I was caught off-guard when a gobbler came running right at me. He paused just long enough in a clearing that I was able to take my very first gobbler.

During turkey season, you must be extremely vigilant. Because of the turkey’s keen eyesight, every hunter will be wearing mostly camouflage. Therefore, you must be 100-percent sure that what you are aiming at is actually a bird.

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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