For the first time in several years, I braved a mid-winter trip to turkey camp over the weekend. Some years we have been blocked for three months getting there. Last year it was a snow and ice storm that kept us bottled up from VD until the second weekend in March.
I have to tell you that there is just no better feeling than opening up camp, and finding it for the most part untouched and unchanged. The big treat Sunday night was listening to lots of wing beats as the flock that inhabits the woods behind the house came home to roost and flew up into the trees.
It was all the better when I got suited up two mornings in a row and went out back to sip my coffee and watch the sun come up at my thoughtful spot. Monday morning, the hens made a lot of racket and flew down. Tuesday morning, I was watching deer feeding with my binos when I heard a flock of geese come up Willow Creek and that set off ( Was that really?) a gobbler. I couldn't tell the first time, so I waited for the geese to pass and owled. Sure enough, from far away that gobbler sounded off and did so a couple more times after that.
The flock of hens that lives out behind the woodlot is known as "Blythe's Crew." Blythe was a cranky old hen that had a yelp that sounded like someone had stepped on her neck. I named her for Blythe Danner, the TV actress with the gravely voice from the mid-70's. Blythe spent several seasons out near one of our barns, yelping and yelping and yelping. Blythe's gone now, but her daughters had a huge brood last Spring, and we had poults coming out of our ears last summer. My son harvested his first Fall gobbler from that crew last October.
The flydown on Sunday morning was so long, noisy and protracted, I decided to do a little scouting and slipped into the woods to see what was going on. It turns out Blythe's crew has now split into two flocks over the winter. One roosts on my side of the gully and the other is across the line on my neighbor's property now with about a hundred yards between them. I guess there were so many they could not all fit on one tree anymore.