I’m on the outdoor show seminar trail these days, talking turkey the way we do here on the Strut Zone, but doing it live and in person. The requisite Q & A session among the brotherhood always follows the main presentation. Sometimes the questions get pretty interesting, even testy.

I’d been talking a little about my pleasure in walking a lot in the bigwoods, and locating gobblers I haven’t known about until then. It’s the way I often like to do it, even if I scout year-round here in Maine, but often hunt cold elsewhere; some guys don’t agree:

“So you’re saying not to hunt fields on Opening Day where we’re seeing birds from the road, but to run-and-gun in the woods?”

“I am. Everybody sees those field birds, and as a result, they take the path of least resistance to that hunting spot. They might call to them before the season. They might exert a whole lot of people pressure. You’re going to have a lot of company when Opening Day starts. That would be the last place I’d hunt.”

“But what if I kill a bird even if all those guys are in there?”

“I’d be the first to congratulate you.”

Translation: the guy wants to score and get back to his fishing. Some years I want a quality hunt on unpressured birds, and not a slam dunk, even if it means carrying my tag awhile. Or not long at all: I killed three Opening Day gobblers in as many states last year (Texas, Vermont & Maine); one on Day Two in another (Florida). Presented as support and nothing more. The 2009 New Hampshire tag I ate. Yech. I digress . . .

“If you could only use one call, what would it be?”


“Why a slate?”

“It’s the first call I ever used all those years ago when I started. I still feel a good slate will allow you a greater range of both hen and gobbler yelps. The only trade-off is that it’s not hands-free like a diaphragm.”

Or this (different guy, but sort of like the first one):

“How can I make sure I kill a gobbler on Opening Day so I can get back to my fishing?”

“I don’t know. I don’t fish during turkey season.” I grinned. Long pause. Nervous coughing.

“Oh . . . I get it,” the guy chuckled. “I have to make my mind up as to what I really want to do.”

The laughs in the crowd said it all. Turkey hunting will never be fishing. Fishing is what you do when you can’t turkey hunt.