Yep, still turkey hunting. New Hampshire. May 31. Spring turkey season closed at noon.
Two days before, Friday May 29, my buddy Dave–who had killed a nice Maine gobbler–and I found two longbeards in a rainy-day plowed field over the border. The landowner said they came there every day. She renewed permission to hunt them at the wire. A sure bet? Easy pickings to close off the season right? If you answered yes, you haven’t hunted wild turkeys long enough.
Our mutual bud Marc, a turkey-hunting circle member such as the buddy network you guys have too, called that night, weary from the morning’s hunt in Maine where he’s still carrying a tag (closes June 6).
“These New Hampshire birds are a sure bet,” I enthused to him.
Guess I need to hunt turkeys a little more too.
Anyhow, I gave him my blessing for what it was worth. Said I’d close down the season at some NH spots I wanted to check out. Said I looked forward to hearing his story. That I’d meet them at the diner after they hit the check station. That with any luck we’d all be there at the same time.
A plan was hatched.
Up at 3:30 a.m., I envisioned Marc closing the deal during my pre-dawn drive. Gorgeous morning. I parked the truck, certain that a gobbler would instantly hammer back when I owled at legal time. I’d heard two gobblers in there earlier this month. Silence now. Quiet in the near woods. And far. Then muddy tracks: fresh hen and old gobbler. Had both gobblers been killed? I eased back to the truck, with time still to check out some other spots, noticing other last-day hunters along the way too.
So how did the boys do on that sure bet? I called Dave at nine, his cell phone set on vibrate. “We’re still in the woods” he whispered. “Cool. I’ll call ya back later.” Running, gunning, I hunted three NH towns, saw one hen, no gobblers, donated blood to bugs, and secured field-goose rights at a family farm for the distant September season a summer away. Honkers traded across the blue sky. By lunchtime, I was eating my turkey tag with a cup of coffee.
My buds closed out the morning. The skinny: A hen came to the field dekes, but not the gobblers. They sounded off on the other side of the river. Dave, who had also tagged a sharp-spurred NH tom earlier that month–and Marc crossed the swollen water to the toms via a downed tree. The birds gobbled to the calls from different directions in the leafed-out woods. They came close but not all the way. Then they started heading toward the field, gobbling and drifting. My buds crossed back. Gobbles all around. Then nothing. Noon.
Tags taste bitter but the experiences stay sweet.