#OperationThunderChicken: The Journey Continues

This is the second weekend that The Engineer and I have had good weather and headed out to the turkey fields for Spring Archery Season!  Now I know basically nothing about turkey hunting, and The Engineer doesn’t know a ton either, but we’ve picked up some random tips from friends and my google skills.  The general consensus is that the weather has simply been too cold for mating to begin.  They don’t work off our calendar.  It doesn’t matter to them at all that the state has decided the season starts on April 7th…..if they aren’t ready to mate they just aren’t ready.  If they aren’t ready to mate, they are less likely to respond to calls because they are just busy doing other turkey things…..whatever it is turkeys do during the day.  We have been consistently seeing some birds on some public land about half an hour South of the house.  It’s easy enough to drive down after work a couple nights a week to keep tabs on the flock.  Of course, public land means that we aren’t always the only ones driving down in an attempt to score a bird!  But, it’s our land and we are working with what we’ve got!

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I bought that male decoy….The Wimpy Jake….and I’m hoping for big things from him!

Last weekend we woke up bright and early Saturday morning to rain.  Rain might be good for covering your noise, but when it’s still only in the low 40’s and neither The Engineer nor myself have rain gear…..going to sit in a blind in the rain isn’t our idea of a good time.  We ran some errands and I organized the kitchen and bathroom cabinets while we waited for the sun to come out and the ground to dry up a little bit.  We went out and did a bit more scouting Saturday evening.  There is a larger section of public land closer to home, but we couldn’t find any signs of life there.  I walked down to one of the fields at the bottom of a valley and couldn’t even hear any chirping birds…..it was oddly creepy.  We did head down to our reliable sighting spot, and there were two males in the distance getting all puffed up and circling each other.  They were quite in the distance……binocular distance…. but it was very cool to see none the less!

Sunday morning we were in the blind to see the sunrise.  Sadly, unlike our fall experience where we heard the turkeys all morning…..we heard almost nothing!  One very, very distance hen but then nothing after that at all.  Well…..we did hear a shotgun about an after after sunrise…..which mostly ended our dreams of morning success.  Public land can be a competitive place, especially around highly populated areas.  I’m grateful for the option to go sit on land that I “own” as a tax payer, but those areas are hard to come by when 90% of the state is privately owned.  It’s not as romantic as living in one of the Western states where large swatches of the land are open to public use, and you can walk deep into wilderness without seeing or hearing another person.

What we did see Sunday morning were deer, and honestly that’s pretty exciting in and of itself.  To get a small herd of deer to wandering into a clearing 50 yards from your blind and then just stand and look at you is pretty exciting.  Over the course of the 4ish hours we were out in the field, we saw 6 deer….one group of 5 and 1 single doe.  We also had some acoustic tunes provided curtesy of a woodpecker and a mostly dead tree limb.  We’ve also seen a ton of pheasants driving to and fro on all the gravel roads in the area, and I think The Engineer has been formulating some fall pheasant hunting strategies.  Sadly, there were no turkeys to be had.

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Last night though we had a promising, albeit gross sign, that the weather is shifting in the direction of Spring.  I had ticks crawling on my hands as we were sitting in the blind!  EWWWWW gross, gross, gross!!!!!

I know that bugs, critters, and all manner of insects are part of spending time in the outdoors, and I have grown to really like spending quiet mornings and evenings in the blind watching nature.  However, ticks don’t seem to serve much purpose other than spreading disease.  I remember running around on my Grandparent’s farm as a child, coming in the house, and feeling ticks crawling up my legs and into my ears.  It didn’t bother me anymore than having an ant crawl on me would bother me now.  I guess ignorance really is bliss.  Childhood me knew nothing about the illness and disease they carried.  I guess those days are over and gone.

We stripped off all our outer clothes in the garage, and I spend most of the rest of last night making The Engineer check for ticks on all our clothes, checking any other places they could possibly be hanging out, and feeling phantom ticks walking on me.  He keeps assuring me that there are none in the house, none that he can find in the garage, and if anything they are in his truck……. That last one is doing nothing to make me feel better about the situation, but he assures me that this is just part of the whole hunting experience.

The Engineer thought he was so funny last night….probably mostly because the ticks were leaving him alone!

Along with the gross creepy crawlies last night, came our first real up close and personal turkey interaction!  A lone hen went walking on by about 15 feet from the blind.  She didn’t even know we were sitting there!  Well…..maybe she did know, but she certainly didn’t act like she cared!  Spring season is male only so we just got to enjoy watching her walk along the creek bottom.  The other reason I’m somewhat convinced that mating hasn’t started around here yet is because she totally ignored our decoys.  Generally hens move towards toms to mate, but she just walked right on past them.  It could be that she was too busy eating to notice…..which more power to you girl!  You get those yummy tick snacks!

We had hoped to head back out this morning, however we woke up to howling winds.  Not only do arrows not fly very well in very windy conditions…..it becomes a bit challenging to keep the blind on the ground.  Last night it was gusty enough to we’d occasionally have to grab the sides of the blinds and hold it down.  Having a blind blow off the top of you really ruins the element of surprise!  I’m hoping that the winds calm down later today, and maybe we can head out to the fields and get one on his way to bed.  It’s such a beautiful day out, it’s a shame it has to be so windy.  Worse comes to worse I guess we can take Scout a Roo on a walk over to the duck pond.  It appears that our cute resident duck couple survived the blizzard and Scout really enjoys keeping tabs on all the ducks and geese on the pond!

I saw this video this morning and it gave The Engineer and I a good laugh.  This is probably as close to turkey hunting that I’m going to get today with the wind the way it is.  I guess I should maybe round up all our camo from the garage and throw it in the washing machine……drown the ticks!  Since writing I’m starting to feel more phantom bugs, so maybe I should also go give myself a good scrubbing.  Also, in case you’re curious….The Engineer and I are maybe a blend of Mr. Impatient and The Over Caller…..although not nearly as bad as the video!  It’s easier than you think to go a big hog wild on the calls.  One minute in the blind feels like 10 regular minutes!

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