Gobbling Fever!

Spring turkey season opened in most parts of Florida this weekend and Outdoor Life was there. Here's a report from Terry Gibson: Like the rest of the country, Florida experienced an unbelievably cold winter--it dropped to 25 degrees just three weeks before the opener and spring weather patterns only set in about a week ago. I was hunting on a private lease just northwest of Lake Okeechobee that is managed intensively for Osceolas. It's a pretty good place to get an indication of what's going on statewide.
Between nine experienced hunters, we came to the conclusion that the birds are still in transition. There are new buds on the cypress and oak trees and a few flowers blooming. Saturday was warm, but the woods still felt a little sullen. There wasn't much gobbling going on after flydown. I did call one big bird in late Saturday afternoon, but he made me. My dad called a trophy bird to the edge of range, but it would not commit. Friend Jesse Terry was the only hunter to convert. He called in solitary 23-pound bird with a 10.5 inch bird and made the shot. (Nice work, Jesse. Now that you filled your tag, you can kill all the hogs I was supposed to kill, and our buddy Read can clean them.) Jesse's dad, Lee, aged the big bird at three years old.
Most of us primarily saw groups of jakes and younger Toms together. About a half-hour after that big bird made me, I called in a group of four two-year-old Toms to a hen decoy, as they were headed to roost. I never knew the birds were there until on of them gobbled in response to yelping. They charged in, but seemed more curious than ready, and did not behave aggressively in the least. Mostly, the toms and jakes were still with the hens.
If this experience is any indication of spring gobbler seasons that start later due to more northern latitudes, the season won't start off with a lot of gobbling and strutting. But a string of warm days could change than anywhere you hunt. Without any cold fronts in sight, our crew thinks that by next weekend it will be game on in Florida.
Meanwhile, over near the left coast, Outdoor Life's Brian Peterson and Stephen Mitchell hosted Brian Lisankie from Aimpoint and Jason Bear of Bear EMG on a wild Osceola hunt on the Box 11 Ranch near Immokalee, Florida. It didn't take long to put three nice birds on the ground.
The group reports that birds were acting similar to our turkeys near Okeechobee--workable but without raucous gobbling. Great way to start the season though.

The country's first turkey seasons have opened and Outdoor Life is there!