Yes, I’m done. Have been unexpectedly for a week, too, after bad weather and conflicting schedules erased my hopes of hunting Massachusetts. Instead, my final spring hunt of 05 rolled to an unclimactic finish alongside a recently planted cornfield in the Southampton County, Va., countryside.
The day began on my farm on the other side of the county, where for the first time that I can remember, I actually heard a tom gobbling on the last morning of the season. It gave me a real shot of hope going into the closer there, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Before I could even get my boots on and scoot close enough to the gobbler, he shut up. I eventually set up near where I thought he was and tried calling softly at first, then louder, then more frequently, then I shut up altogether, but in the end, I never saw hide nor feather.
As the morning wore on, I did however, manage to get in a few of those epic spring turkey season naps that are always such a consolation to a day “well spent.” When I finally ventured over to another small property my dad has in Southampton, it was much the same. Warm and queit. I settled down in a likely spot, called for awhile, napped some more and at around 1 p.m. declared my season dead and headed to Virginia Beach where I joined my family for an excellent seafood feast.
As always I enjoyed a tremendous amount of fun and camaraderie during the season, making many new friends along the way and adding a little more to my understanding of wild turkey behavior and how to hunt them. But I admit, with the way the season roared into being by taking birds on my first two hunts and watching as two other hunters also took early morning toms, I didn’t foresee it stalling and going out so quietly for me. Like former racer Darrell Waltrip once said in an interview at the end of his Winston Cup career, “As you get toward the end, you just keep praying to win one more race,” I was sure hoping for the thrill of tagging just one more bird, but it was not to be.
In the end, I did get two, had two others in “close but no cigar” range, helped call two others in for other hunters, as a pure spectator watched a fifth called in and taken and got to work nearly another dozen birds in the process. So there was plenty of excitement and learning that took place. In fact, it was hunting the longbeards that kicked my butt that I probably learned the most. (Of course, that being the case, after a most frustrating Texas hunt, I should darn near be a turkey hunting genius. But that’s another story altogether.)
While many of the pro staff hunt reports we’ve received this spring have been glowing–and indeed, a lot of other hunters also had fantastic season–some of the reports I’m getting reveal a mixed experience this spring. In many places, birds were seriously henned up, while in others, hunters reported the birds had finished early and simply weren’t responding to calls in the final weeks.
Let us know what your experience this season was and how you fared by clicking on the “Comments” below. And if you have a great picture or two of the season, don’t forget to send one to firstname.lastname@example.org to enter the “Give Us The Bird” contest.