The deer season is over for most of us except those who live in the southwest part of the state and have a few more days to get that buck. For the rest of us, the focus is now on taking a fun squirrel or rabbit hunt. If you got a good bird dog and can find some quail, either wild or pen raised, then you can have some good afternoons trying to hit those little “feathered rockets.” If that is not a hunt you care to do, then hog hunting or predator hunting are two great sports for February.
A good friend at church this morning was showing me some video of a hog hunt he participated in yesterday where the outfitter has trained hog dogs who will catch the hog and hold it until it can be dispatched with a quick stick from a large knife. That is not for me! I do not want to be that close to an angry hog with a big set of tusks! He found out how quick things can turn as he attempted his first “pig stick” when he got a look at his boot later and found a big rip clean through it that barely missed his leg! He said he felt the pig when it snapped at him but, it was so quick he did not even know he had been nearly cut!
My weekend hunting was interrupted by my 40th wedding anniversary, so I hung out with my sweet wife and each year I am reminded of how smart I was 41 years ago to suggest a February wedding! I considered that February is between hunting seasons, is viewed by the ladies as a month with romantic implications, and my birthday is a couple of weeks after my anniversary. So, If I forgot an anniversary (which I have not) then I figured she would forgive me by the time my birthday arrived! I may have planned poorly for somethings, but I did good on this one!
As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a confessed turkey addict! If I had to make a choice between deer hunting and turkey hunting that would be a hands down, slam dunk, easy choice! Turkey hunting wins by a mile! So, my focus yesterday started with cleaning and unsticking the reeds on my diaphragm calls, sanding and chalking my box calls and practice on all of them, as well as my owl call, crow call, and “Haint” gobbler tube. Turkey hunting can be as simple or as complex as you make it. I have hunted with a single shot 12 gauge and 2 shells in my pocket using a short piece of green cane I cut in the woods that morning to make a “hen clucker” and just sit quietly until I heard or saw turkeys and then clucked and light yelped them in via the cane caller. My Grandpa Walter challenged us teenage boys to do that as a testament to how tough it was to kill a turkey when he was a boy in the late 1800s. It made for a very special hunt for us to take a gobbler “pioneer style” and I only did it once in the late 1960s to prove to him that I could have been a good pioneer! One thing is for sure, I would have been a “thin pioneer” as that was some tough hunting! I hunted with the cane caller for 8 mornings before I Finally got a turkey close enough in for a kill shot! He did remind us that they shot hens as well as gobblers since they were trying to find meat for the table and our being limited to gobblers was a great deal tougher to pull off.
Today, I use a wide variety of turkey calls to entice that gobbler to my position. I use an owl hooter and a crow call to make a gobbler “shock gobble” from the limb or shortly after fly-down so I can locate him and work in close then call him on in the remaining distance with one of my hen turkey callers. This is of course a “best case scenario” for a morning of turkey hunting in the great Alabama spring woods! There are many things that can and often do wreck the hunt such as other gobblers or hens, coyotes, stray dogs and other hunters. Betwen now and March 15th, I hope to share some of my 50 plus years of turkey hunting with you in a way that just might help you enjoy the spring gobbling season for the Eastern Wild Turkey we are lucky to have in our world!
In the countdown to spring gobbler hunting there is still time to chase some squirrels, rabbits, quail, hogs or coyotes and each one can make for a great memory IF you take a child with you and invest some time teaching them about our great Central Alabama Outdoors!