Outdoor Chenango: It's Over
Published: June 1st, 2022
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: It's Over

Yesterday at noon, spring turkey season officially ended for the year. I hope that the readers of this column that are turkey hunters had a successful season. My season was successful not in terms of tags filled, but in accomplishments.

I was lucky to take out a youth hunter on the Youth Weekend as I wrote about a few weeks ago. I also was able to take out a different youth hunter on opening day of the regular season. We heard birds on both occasions but never had any get close enough. However, after that my season was a struggle. I hunted every weekend and even took a few Fridays off to make the weekend longer, yet I couldn’t seem to be in the right place.

One morning I heard a bird early and was able to get set up in a field about 250 yards straight downhill of his roost. Thinking it was going to be a quick hunt, I got settled in and started calling softly.

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After a couple of minutes, I heard some clucking to my left and a hen walked out into the field making a line straight to my decoys. She clucked and purred a little bit but seemed to know something was up after just 30 seconds. She slowly walked back where she came from and marched up the hillside. I heard the tom gobble once as he followed her in the opposite direction.

Another morning, the first gobble wasn’t until it was almost fly-down time. He was in a patch of woods I could drive around quicker than walk to, so I drove my truck around and parked. I hustled to get out to the field so I could throw my decoys up and as I reached the end of the farm lane in the woods, he gobbled over the knob in the field about 80 yards in front of me.

I couldn’t risk setting my decoys out so, I crawled to the first tree I could sit at and called. A few minutes later he gobbled farther down the field. If only he had gobbled 10 minutes sooner in the tree!

I did finally try hunting on some state land after saying I would do it for the past few years. I wandered on pieces of Basswood and Wiley Brook State Forests here in Chenango County trying to find a receptive tom. This past Sunday, I had a group of jakes come in and hang up at 55 yards on me on one of these pieces. I also ventured into the Catskills with a friend (who is the NWTF Regional Director for this area) and the NWTF biologist for New York.

We tried some of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection water supply properties. To hunt these lands, you must fill out an online permit and carry your permit with you. We heard a bird on the roost on nearby private property and we saw birds but only when we were driving from one piece to the next. It was good to talk to the biologist about turkey habitat and to start thinking about projects that NWTF can help promote and fund in New York.

I had multiple mornings where I didn’t even hear a gobble, where usually I can hear at least one somewhere in the valley where I hunt. This year’s early spring weather might have played a part in some of this. Last year, the fields where I hunt were cut for hay by May 20.

As of yesterday, they still had not been cut yet this year. The tall hay fields keep turkeys from hanging around since they cannot see well in them to avoid predators. However, once they are cut, the birds like to use them to look for insects to eat. So at least it seems like they will get cut soon enough to be helpful to young poults who need to eat to keep growing.

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As I have discussed multiple times in the past, I am a volunteer with the National Wild Turkey Federation as a local chapter president and now as the state chapter president as well. This Sunday, June 5, is my local chapter’s (Genegantslet Gobblers) annual fundraising event.

We are holding it at the Broome County Fairgrounds in Whitney Point. Brooks House of BBQ is doing a chicken BBQ for us at the same time as the fundraiser. If you are interested in attending, please visit  www.nwtf.org/events  and search by zip code or chapter name to find the event and purchase your tickets.