Sport shows are fun events, good for breaking up late winter boredom, and last weekend's Columbus Deer and Turkey Expo drew literally tens of thousands of outdoorsmen.
Some went hoping for bargains in outdoor equipment, and found them, and some (like me) went seeking new facts and information about hunting, and found them, too. New turkey hunting tactics was just one example.
Most readers who seek these big birds each spring know the basics of hunting turkeys. You scout diligently pre-season, hopefully roost a nice gobbler or two the night before you're planning to hunt, then come back well before dawn. The next step is to find a good spot to sit, put a couple of decoys in an open area, and when the birds fly down, open up with a soft little cluck or two on your call. If all goes well, the tom comes strutting in, takes some shotgun pellets in his head and neck, and the hunt is over.
That's the norm, but Al Holvert doesn't do it that way, at least every time. Al was at the Columbus show selling his hand-made turkey calls and having killed more than 100 turkeys, considers himself pretty good at the sport. Al favors glass and slate calls above all others, and does most of his hunting between 10 a.m. and noon, a time when many hunters are going home.
"I hunt in areas where I know there are birds somewhere around," he said. "And my usual practice is to start out with some loud aggressive putts to locate them. Then I move their way as quietly as possible giving some softer calls, and when one is coming in I sit down right there and shut up. I usually kill the bird."
On days when the birds aren't gobbling to attract hens, usually damp and rainy ones, he'll start with the same loud cuts, and when one gobbles back, even from far away, he sits down and never makes another peep. "If they gobble even once, they'll come," Al said. "It my take a while, but just be patient. He knows where you're at and he'll show up."
That's a tactic worth trying.
Another turkey hunter working the show had more good advice. He uses decoys exclusively, usually two hens and a jake placed in an open field near the woods, and he's killed a lot of toms that came hurrying in to take the hens away from the jake. "But sometimes by mid-season the big gobblers have had some experience with hunters and decoys, and get suspicious of three birds standing out there perfectly motionless." he said. "So, I carry three fishing reels filled with monofilament line and tie a line to each of the decoys. If a tom hangs up out there and acts suspicious I pull on the fishing lines to make them move a little. I've had them come in at a trot when I do that."
Here's a final tactic that I picked up at one booth, again selling turkey calls. The agent, an old time turkey hunter, doesn't hunt with just one call, but at least three, usually a diaphragm, slate, and one he can blow without using his hands. "On a good day, I may only need one call, and that's fine," he said "But if a tom already has a couple of hens with him, he might not want to make a trip to get just one more. Then I use all three calls to imitate a small flock, and sometimes that makes the difference."
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Two related chapters, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, are seeking new members. Both chapters work hard to improve habitat for their respective game birds, and work not only hands-on in the field, but with educational programs and legislative action. For information on joining Pheasants Forever, visitwww.pheasantsforever.org, and for Quail Forever seewww.QuailForever.org. With luck and the help of these organizations we might once again see these beautiful game birds back in local fields.
The Ohio chapter of North American Carp Angler is planning an active year in the Buckeye state, and anglers who like lazy fishing, hopefully for really big carp are invited to join the chapter and attend the tournaments. Among planned events are an Ohio Fish-in at East Harbor State Park on April 20 to 22 with a bankside cookout on Saturday, and a Fish-in at West Branch on May 11 to 13. For more information, contact Phil Davenport at email@example.com.
The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund is sponsoring an essay contest for students celebrating the Second Amendment as an important part of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The theme for the essay is "The Second Amendment to the Constitution: why is it important to our nation?" Essays will be judged in two categories senior (grades 10 to 12) and junior (grades nine and below). First prizes are $1,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds, and there are further bond prizes down to honorable mention. For questions regarding the contest, call (703) 267-1250.