Gobbler hunting almost as popular as May angling

Once upon a time, long ago in a state called New York, the month of May meant fishing ... for trout, walleye, pike, pickerel and assorted panfish species. Then the appearance of a creature that walked on two legs and uttered a booming sound that sent chills down the spine of those hearing it began appearing in the the once quiet New York woodlands. As history attests, the New York springtime season would never be quite the same.

With the re-establishment of the wild turkey in the state came a level of excitement arguably only matched when deer began reappearing in increasingly abundant numbers in regions outside the Adirondacks during the 1920s and '30s. Once native to the state, the wild turkey became exerbated by the late nineteenth century. The nearest remaining birds existed in Pennsylvania's northwestern region, and sightings of turkeys in the southwestern part of New York in the early twentieth century indicated they were gradually expanding as the habitat there improved. However, it wasn't until the late 1940s that a sufficient resident density of them spurred wildlife biologists to consider attempting a re-introducion program on a large scale. Initial attempts to stock pen-reared birds failed, but then a trap-and-transfer program of wild turkeys proved very successful. By the late 1960s and early '70s wild turkeys were popping up almost all over the state. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today, May gobbler hunting rivals May fishing as the choice of many sportsmen and women.

The popularity of May gobbler hunting owes much to the challenges involved as well as the wary instincts and qualities of the prey. Despite their vocal nature during the spring mating season, adult gobblers seldom let their guard down. With their superior hearing and eyesight, coupled with often unpredictable behavior patterns, no hunter can be totally optimistic that a gobbler responding to calls will end up in the freezer. Just when the hunter begins to think it's a done deal, approaching gobblers often do the unexpected. Couple this with the excitement of hearing the thunderous gobbling of an excited tom, and even failed hunts act as an addictive agent that keeps drawing hunters back, morning after morning.

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