Despite my disbelief nothing can or will be done about the outrageous gasoline prices, I try to be a realist and accept the fact they are, for the present, here to stay.


Despite my disbelief nothing can or will be done about the outrageous gasoline prices, I try to be a realist and accept the fact they are, for the present, here to stay.

However, I refuse to take it lying down when those asinine prices at the pump begin to affect my hunting. Such is already the case, as we have vowed this year to hunt turkeys as close to home as possible. Unfortunately the turkey population within our self-imposed two- to three-mile radius of home is rather “skinny” as my coworker would say.

Where we’re hunting, the flock started as seven or eight birds, at least half of them gobblers, but is now only two hens and a jake.

The property is a small farmstead with a few old buildings but no house, and sets back a long gravel lane bordered by wheat on both sides. Parallel to the drive and a couple hundred yards across the wheat field is a thick tree row with some nice tall cottonwoods and a muddy stream running through it.

At the end of the lane, behind the buildings, is a large rolling pasture with numerous clumps of trees and shrubs, and the stream twisting its way through it like ribbon candy. I sat in the lane one evening about one month ago and watched the gobblers (then still plural) roost in the cottonwoods well away from the pasture and buildings.

A few days later, we planted our blind in the corner where the pasture and tree row converge, believing we had the perfect setup — problem no. 1.

My wife and I both work full time jobs, so much of our spring turkey hunting is done in the evening — problem no. 2.

The landowner tells us on evenings we don’t hunt, the trio often comes through the pasture around 6:15 p.m. When we’re there however, the birds don’t show, and we give up too early and go home.

Now back to the aforementioned problem no. 1, our “perfect setup.”

We placed the blind on Friday night, and silently slipped toward it early Saturday morning. With just enough morning light to walk without a flashlight, we glided through the pasture under the assumption the birds were roosted well away from us.

As we unzipped the door to the blind, a gobble erupted so close and so loudly we both nearly wet our pants; the group was roosted right next door. So much for planning.

Soon the trio strolled from the nearby trees into the meadow before us and puttered around awhile before moving off; close but no cigar.

The jake showed some interest in our calls and decoys, but not enough to reward Joyce with a shot. The following morning I tried again, this time from a patch of bushes across the creek near a crossing that had been their escape route. Guess what? The gobbler had moved again and I was busted.

Now for problem no. 2, evening hunting.

Yes, spring turkey hunting in the evening does work, but in my opinion is not the perfect scenario. Morning turkey hunts are most often in pursuit of gobblers as they leave their roost, and you can usually set your watch by their departure. Set up near that roost, but not encroaching and you can often waylay him as he herds his girls off for the day’s adventures.

If nothing happens during the day to badly spook or scatter the group, they will likely return to roost there repeatedly, but their evening arrival times and routes often vary greatly. Numerous evenings we’ve pulled into the yard at 5 p.m., and left at 7:30 without a turkey in sight. Other times we’ve been greeted by turkeys as we depart the pickup at 4:30.

Finally one night last week, we managed to keep our seats until dark. The trio came swaggering in late and we witnessed the gobbler breed one of the hens, but he showed absolutely no interest in our plastic floozy or my calling.

In summary, the bad news is that neither Joyce nor I have yet harvested our spring turkey.

The good news is that we still have one full week of season left. I still have some plans up my sleeve, including reluctantly dropping our self-imposed mileage range and using only a hen decoy without her plastic boy friend. A recent article by the Kansas Wildlife and Parks suggests that a hen decoy alone may get the attention of late-season gobblers whose harems are already nesting.

Oh well, I guess if harvesting a spring turkey was a sure thing it would be called turkey shooting, not turkey hunting! Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by email at stevegilliland@embarqmail.com.