From the final gobble of spring until the first autumn scatter, turkey hunters endure a long drought. You know — summer.
I guess we need it. After all, the spring season can be pretty taxing. A week or two of 4 a.m. wake-up calls can wear out anybody. Stretch that through a month or six weeks, and you’re talking severe fatigue.
And if you throw in the physical toll of travel and hiking up and down ridges, you’re pretty well whipped come June. It’s time for a break.
Maybe you’re not ready for it mentally, but your body probably demands it. Other factors come into play, too.
Those neglected elements of your life — like work and family — require penance time. Before you know it, you’ve morphed from turkey hunter into lawn-mower, gutter-cleaner and
Turkeys also need time to do their summer thing. Not long after the season, poults hatch, and hens are busy protecting and rearing their broods. Gobblers slowly begin to lose their breeding drive, hook back up with other toms and focus more on feeding.
Within weeks, the strutters you commonly saw while driving to work have been replaced by turkeys combing lush fields for grasshoppers.
The spark remains, however. Now and then, as you brush the Borax off a tail fan or fold your clean camo for storage, you’ll think back to a chilly spring morning when a smoking-hot
gobbler cut off your every yelp.
Before you know it, you pick up a glass call and pop the striker over its surface. Soon, you’re reminded that “turkey season is over,” and you refocus on more pressing matters.
As the July heat arrives, you begin seeing brood after brood along country roads. Poults, hatched just weeks earlier, are flying, feeding and growing. It’s tough to believe they’ve come so far so soon, but it’s more difficult to comprehend how big they’ll be in fall.
By August, you begin to take serious note of regular turkey sightings. Consistently seeing a batch of gobblers in June is one thing. Seeing them every day a month before the season
is another. “Just hold on a few more weeks,” you think.
By the end of the month, your camo stands ready for action, and you’ve become reacquainted with your calls — especially slow, deep gobbler yelps, and kee-kees and kee-kee runs. If turkey dogs are your game, you’ve likely been running the pooches for a while, getting them into shape and honing their skills for the upcoming season.
One day, seemingly without warning, fall arrives. School buses resume their routes around the neighborhood, and goose hunters are scouring cut grain fields for local Canadas. The little
fuzzballs you glimpsed in June have suddenly become full-sized jakes and jennies.
Calling practice immediately becomes calling in earnest. Dog training shifts to dog running. The heft of a 12-gauge feels awfully good in your hands, and although the air smells different than it did in late May, it’s still familiar and inviting.
And good Lord willing, a turkey dinner might not require a trip to the store or thawing a
breast from the freezer. Yeah, I know; it’s summer now, and we shouldn’t wish away time, even during the off-season. Fall turkey season will be here soon enough. It’s just nice to know it’s waiting.