We’re sitting here on the cusp of one of my favorite times of year. It’s spring; dogwoods and azaleas are blooming, everything is turning green, except for the yellow dust that falls like a heavy mist from my pine trees. I’ve already had to break out the lawn mower so, yes, it is spring.
As much as I enjoy watching the metamorphosis of the drab shades of winter evolve into a kaleidoscope of color, there is another experience that supersedes being there for the birth of yet another spring. Wild turkey season opens in Louisiana and the prospect of hearing a longbeard gobbler sound off from the roost and watching him, in full strut, slowly shuffle his way to my gun makes other springtime happenings pale in comparison.
Before having the experience of an encounter with a gobbler, you have to know where he hangs out once he leaves his roost tree and the only way to do that is to scout. This involves looking for tracks, droppings, feathers and strut marks in addition to hearing the actual gobble of your quarry.
Time has to be spent in the woods along old woods roads, log decks, pipeline and power line rights of way looking for the telltale sign where turkeys are hanging out.
While looking for evidence of turkeys in an area, on more than one occasion, I have found other treasures as a bonus.
A few springs ago, I was walking an old woods road with wild flowers pushing through the new green grass when I spotted something that seemed out of place. Upon closer examination, the tip of white protruding from the greenery was the tine of an antler that had been cast aside as always happens once buck deer drop the old to begin growing the new. For the moment, I forgot turkey tracks, retrieved the prize that now rests in my office.
On another occasion, I was walking through a food plot near a deer stand when I spotted an antler among the clover. Another trophy got a ride home in my truck.
As exciting as it is to find shed antlers, there are other treasures that are more mind-boggling. One day I was walking a recently plowed pipeline that exposed bare iron ore-laden ground in search of turkey sign when a small rock at my feet looked different. It was an arrow head.
Picking it up, I was transported back in time as I tried to imagine how it got there. I realized that long ago, Native Americans roamed these hills in search of game. Perhaps an errant arrow launched from a primitive bow had missed its mark, or it could be that the arrow had hit the target, and the deer ran before expiring on the site of the pipeline. I’ll never know the answer, of course, but it is a mind-stretcher just to consider the possibility of what may have happened hundreds of years ago.
That’s not the first arrow head I’ve recovered while scouting for turkeys. A couple more made their way into my pocket until I could get home with my special treasures.
On another occasion, I was walking along a pipeline on our hunting club, stopping in a patch of clover to listen for a gobbler. Looking down, I spotted a 4-leaf clover right between my boots. Did it bring me luck? If memory serves, I was able to call in and bring down a gobbler that day.
When you’re out turkey hunting this spring, it’s always an adrenalin rush to be able to locate and call in a mature turkey gobbler. If the turkeys don’t cooperate, though, be on the lookout for some of these special treasures that when found, can make failing to get a gobbler not such a bad deal after all.