Locating turkey tracks can lead to a successful hunt.
Some turkey hunters get lucky on opening morning. They forget and slam the truck door, as a result a turkey gobbles nearby, and within minutes they have bagged a tom.
The above scenario isn’t the norm. It is very, very rare, but I’ve been present when it happened. However, the best way to increase the odds of a successful hunt takes some time and work prior to opening morning.
The spring turkey season dates for Indiana are April 23-24 for the youth only hunt and regular season is April 27 through May 16.
The turkey experts at the National Wild Turkey Federation say, “As spring openers beckon, most turkey hunters practice calling, sight in their guns and ready their camo. One task is more important than all others, though: learning the whereabouts and habits of turkeys where you hunt.”
In a NWTF news release, it suggests the process of locating birds “should start weeks before the season. If you plan to hunt new or unfamiliar ground, learn everything you can about the layout, terrain and foliage.
“Study aerial photographs and topographic maps. Walk the land, and take mental notes of fences, creeks, marshes, draws, ridges, buildings, agricultural fields, timber stands and property boundaries.
“As spring nears and winter flocks of turkeys begin to break up, begin your scouting in earnest. Take an outside-in approach by glassing fields and open timber from roads or high points. Sit at high ridge tops or the edges of timber to listen for roost-gobbling. Make frequent trips, and note how gobblers seem to be dispersing across the landscape.
“Talk to landowners, mail carriers, truck drivers and other hunters to learn where they encounter turkeys. Their observations might provide a missing link you haven’t discovered.
“After you get a good sense of what’s happening, put boots on the ground to learn the details. Listen for early morning gobbling, and try to pinpoint roosting areas. Observe potential feeding and strutting areas, such as meadows, food plots, open benches or crop fields. Watch how birds travel to and from roosts to feeding areas. Note how turkeys react to various weather conditions, including bright high-pressure mornings and rainy, windy days.
“Turkeys won’t always be talkative or visible, so search for other clues. Tracks, droppings and strut marks can reveal travel, loafing or feeding areas. Droppings and feathers — especially primary wing feathers — near suitable trees might reveal roosts. Dusting areas can be hidden gems, as turkeys visit these frequently during the day.
“As you find sign, look around for potential setup spots or ambush sites. A hot field edge might be the perfect place for a pop-up blind. A cattle-gate crossing with a large burr oak nearby provides a dandy setup.
Disturb your hunting area as little as possible while you scout.
“Always listen and glass ahead of you, and move carefully to avoid bumping birds. Use locator calls if you wish, but don’t run turkey calls. The turkey talk itself won’t scare gobblers, but you don’t want to risk accidentally yelping in a bird and spooking it.
“In the days before the opener, take stock of all your information and plot strategy. Identify the best spots for fly-down hunts. Note places to intercept birds as they eat or travel. And plot out good plan B spots where you can cold-call or walk and call during quiet late mornings.
“One caveat: No matter how well you scout and prepare, turkeys will throw you curves, even opening day. That’s OK. Apply the knowledge you’ve gained and adapt your approach. You can never learn too much about the land and turkeys you’re hunting. Not knowing enough, however, can leave you shaking your head while holding an unfilled tag
Mention “carp” fish and most folks will either turn up their noses, make some negative remark, or simply have a blank stare.
Common carp have been around for years. They are native to Europe and Asia, but now have been introduced and spread throughout most of the world, except the Middle East and the arctics. They have created problems in some streams and lakes, but for the most part have been controlled.
Now new types or carp like the silver and bighead carp are increasing problems in the United States. The main problem is they compete with native game fish for food. And, jumping silver carp can be dangerous to boaters. They get sizable and can strike a boater, causing injury.
Recently, someone asked me about the carp, which has been around the Midwest for many years.
Back in 1653 Izaak Walton wrote in The Compleat Angler, "The Carp is the queen of rivers; a stately, a good, and a very subtle fish; that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now naturalised."
Carp are variable in terms of angling value, In Europe, even when not sought for food, they are eagerly sought by anglers, being considered highly prized coarse fish that are difficult to catch. They are considered a sport fish, probably equal to largemouth bass in the U.S.
The UK has a thriving carp (rough fish) angling market. It is the fastest growing angling market in the UK, and has spawned a number of specialized carp angling publications.
As a kid growing up in Eastern Illinois, there were no public lakes. Our fishing was primarily limited to creeks and rivers like Big Creek and the Wabash River.
While carp never have been near the top of my list of good eating fish, as a youngster when we caught small carp (up to about three pounds) in clear cool spring water and fried by my mother, they were pretty good eating.
My dad had a recipe for dough balls he used for carp bait. He added a bit of strawberry jello and the carp seemed to favor the concoction.
I also recall during later years when fishing in Minnesota with Indian guides, we never fished for carp, but if we caught one, the guides wanted to keep it. They would smoke the carp and they were tasty.
Today in the U,S, carp are considered a rough fish, as well as damaging to naturalized exotic species, but with sporting qualities. Many states' departments of natural resources are beginning to view the carp as an angling fish instead of a maligned pest.
Groups such as Wild Carp Companies,[ American Carp Sociiety and the Carp Anglers Group promote the sport and work with fisheries departments to organize events to introduce and expose others to the unique opportunity the carp offers freshwater anglers. The groups promote tournaments and special fishing events throughout the country.
CarpAnglingGroup.com has considerable carp fishing information, including “Tips and Advice for Beginners.”
When early March rolls around many people think spring. Admittedly, I’m in the group that gets a bit over anxious for warmer days. I’m thinking warm breezes, morel mushrooms and crappie.
Sometimes the reality is snow and ice, or other nasty weather as the year’s third month begins. It is not unusual to find the ground covered with some of the heaviest snows of the winter in March. The good news is the white stuff usually doesn’t stick around very long.
Weather Channel statistics show the average daily high temperature in southern Indiana during March is 55 with a nighttime low of 35. That is reason for optimism as that is about 10 degrees warmer than the February numbers. And the second half of the month statistically, the high temperatures should be well into the 60’s.
There’s an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” or if March comes in like a lamb (nice weather), it will go out like a lion (bad). I don’t know that anyone has researched the accuracy of the saying, but stats show the end of the month is warmer than the start.
This year’s extended weather forecast is for a lamb start of the month. I don’t remember all of the bad March storms in recent years or whether or not the months started as lambs or lions. However, there have been a number storms that have found there way between those longer and warmer days I look forward to in March.
Being a month of significant weather change, most anything can happen, and frequently does. At the end of the month in 1987 (March 30) a heavy snow blanketed most of the Ohio River Valley, and a year later, a two-inch glaze of ice covered much of the same area.
In 1990 on March 10, a warm front produced a number of storms, including damaging 65 mile per hour winds in Kentucky, and back on March 21, 1952, a series of tornados killed 343 people, including a number in the Bluegrass state.
It also was during March in 1913 and 1936 when rains and melting snow caused significant river flooding throughout the Ohio River valley.
Hopefully, this year we will have uneventful March weather. Shortly, the crocus will appear and not far behind will be the daffodil. Those hardy, beautiful yellow flowers first bloom on the south side of the hill, and are a pleasant reminder than spring is at hand. The morel mushrooms can’t be far behind. I’ve found morels as early as the last week in March, but it usually is the second week in April before they appear in sizable numbers.
As nice days begin to appear, it is time to get out for a hike, fishing for suckers, sauger and crappie, and a good time to scout for turkeys.
Who originated the old saying about March and the lion and lamb, no one seems to know. There also is a poem on the subject, and the author also is unknown.
Winter doesn’t have to be a time for the winter “blahs”, and a “can’t wait for spring attitude”. The groundhog has done his thing, but no matter what, we still have some winter weather left.
It probably isn’t the favorite season of most, but winter isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great time for hiking, walking in the woods, trying your luck at walleye or sauger fishing, or just getting outdoors.
While many people park themselves by the fireplace or in front on the TV or a cell phone, most winter days are good for hiking in the woods. Hey, football is over.
Sure there are lousy winter days not fit for man nor beast, but most can be enjoyable if you are properly dressed and carry appropriate gear.
So what’s so great about a winter walk? One advantage is you can see more. Often you can see things you can’t when leaves are hanging on trees and other plants. Now, you can see rock formations, cabins, etc.,
With no leaves on the tress and bushes, it also is great for watching birds and various animals such as wild turkeys, squirrels, rabbits and deer. It’s a good time to scout for spring’s turkey. And, you may find a deer antler shed.
And now, through mid-March you have a shot at seeing an eagle. While more and more eagles now nest in this part of the country, many migratory eagles spend their winters in the area.
During the same time period also is a good time to fish for walleye and sauger in Kentuckiana streams.
Another reason for winter hiking is the lack of pesky insects. There’s no need to worry about mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks are rare. About the only time you may run into a tick is a warm winter day, when the pests become active.
When there is a small snowfall, the woods truly can become a winter wonderland. Often small waterfalls turn into a thing of beauty when the water freezes making an attractive sculpture.
There are a couple of safety items to keep in mind. Wear plenty of warm clothes, and wear them layered. You can always take off a layer, if you become too warm. But if you are cold and don’t have extra clothes you can be in trouble.
Anytime you are hiking, it is a good idea to hike with someone. It’s also a must that you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. However this advice is particularly important in the winter. In summer if you are lost a half day, it may be a little frightening, but you won’t die from hypothermia. That isn’t the case in winter time. Should you fall and injure a leg, it could be a serious problem while you await someone to find you.
Carrying a cell phone is a good idea, however in some rural areas a phone signal may be questionable.
Now is a good time to get off the couch and enjoy winter. Soon, we may be complaining about the heat.