You know what I like about hunting turkeys today over the 1970’s when I first tried my hand at it? Well, you don’t have to get up real early. I remember all those mornings tent camping somewhere way back in the woods or on the river, getting up at four in the morning and trying to fry eggs and bacon by lantern light after we had stayed up ‘til midnight telling tall stories. Sometimes I’d be sitting against a tree half asleep and a gobbler from a ridge-top a mile away would wake me up. And back then, especially down in the Arkansas mountains, wild toms were scarce enough to where you went after any gobble you might hear. I climbed some mountains back then that were too steep for a ski lift. I remember how skinned up my knees and elbows would get, sliding down some rocky hillside, then trying it again. All that because on top of that mountain, there was a wild turkey gobbling.
Today there are so many wild turkeys to hunt you can get up at nine o’clock and have one by ten-thirty. And forget about those you hear on distant ridge tops. There will be a couple much much closer if you don’t spook them by charging through the brush to get close. My philosophy has changed in recent years, as my legs get shorter and I get wiser. Now I feel it is the obligation of the gobbler to come to me. Trouble is, while I have changed in a lot of ways as a hunter, my patience has not. I don’t have much of it.
One thing I am not going to do is try to low-crawl within range of a turkey! I knew about a technique years ago that some young, skinny, impatient fellows were trying, consisting of using a dried, spread tail fan from a tom they had killed the year before, as a sort of decoy shield. Believe me, it will work, especially if you use the head of a gobbler decoy in front of it. But can you imagine crawling slowly across a field with all that before you, hiding behind it and dragging your shotgun on your back? If I did something like that I would be ashamed of myself. You are supposed to call the gobbler in, not sneak up on him. Besides that, when I tried to low-crawl up on a gobbler a time or two when I was young and stupid, I always got so intent on the turkey I didn’t see the cow manure. Those tail fans work, and some have told me that if they crawl out into the field a little ways and the gobbler sees that fan, he will come all the way across the field to fight with it.
I don’t know if it would work as well in the deep woods, but that’s where I like to hunt turkeys… in the woods. Field turkeys don’t seem as smart.
The other day I was down at Bull Shoals Lake talking to the folks at the Edgewater Resort, just south of the Missouri line right down the road from Gainesville. They have a big net-full of twelve-inch rainbow trout that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gave them last fall as little fingerlings, to feed all winter and allow them to grow. They will release the trout this week, and I understand that they are really easy to catch for a week or so on about anything they can get in their mouth. That might be a good place to take a youngster who wants to catch some fish without having to do a lot of casting with little results.
On Sunday, my daughter found some small grey mushrooms on our place, and some of those big red beefsteak mushrooms. I think after the rain Sunday night they will be popping up all over the place this week. But we need more rain, much more. It is starting out way, way too dry.
Some little tiny grey squirrels climbed out of their hollow limb in my back yard just yesterday, and I watched them while sitting on my back porch, observing the first hummingbirds I have seen this spring. Of course I just got the feeders up, and put one up for the orioles which will be here soon. Those four little squirrels were about the size of chipmunks, and they darted around the limbs of that tree, dashing back to the hole every few seconds and then darting out again. This big world in my back yard had them scared to death. It scares me a little too. People who come here think I should mow it. But I want to see the wildflowers for awhile and I don’t want to mow over any baby rabbits.
Fishing guide Steve Olomon who works on Norfork Lake, told me that he has been catching great big crappie using large ‘swim shad’ lures, while fishing for stripers. One was just under 17 inches. Sure as the world, someone will be out on Norfork fishing for crappie and catch a big striper on a little crappie jig. But if striper tactics work for big crappie, who’s gonna complain.
Rick Eastwold, the owner of the Bull Shoals Lake Marina just west of the dam, has told me about something exciting. He knows where there is an old White River wooden johnboat sunk in deep water that has been preserved in those depths. He says he has examined it while diving, and it looks to be in excellent condition, apparently chained to a tree that was once on the bank of the White, long before it was dammed. Now he is trying to figure out how to raise it and bring it in without damaging it. I want to be there when they do that. This could be one of the johnboats built by the Barnes brothers back in the 30’s or 40’s. If you want to find a rarity, look for a wooden johnboat built in the heyday of float-fishing. There just aren’t any.
The spring issues of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal and the Journal of the Ozarks are out on the magazine stands here and there, but it is a hit or miss proposition to find one. If you can’t find one, you can purchase either one through the mail for six dollars and we will pay the postage. If you want both you can get them for only ten dollars. But please tell me which magazine you want. There are some great stories in both magazines. My address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 and you can perhaps talk to my executive secretary, MS. Wiggins, just by calling the office where she is suppose to work but seldom does. That number is 417-777-5227. You can email me at email@example.com and my website is larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.