Families and females turned in some top turkey tales this spring.
The Gerling family scored a three peat on turkey takes, hunting until the very end of the season.
Joe “Hoot Sr.” Gerling, 75, got his turkey in the Town of Concord on May 31, the last day of spring wild turkey season in Western New York. Son Chris Gerling was in on the calling. Chris got his tom on May 7; grandson David Black got his gobbler on May 13 in Pennsylvania. Finally, granddad scored on a 21-pound strutter that sported a 10.5-inch beard and 1.25-inch spurs to round out the family triangle.
Chris noted that dad’s favored hunting motto is “never give up.” That last kill was one of two big birds that came in after 45 minutes of soft calling. The Gerlings left at least one big bird for forthcoming fall and spring seasons.
Sharleen “Charly” Duda of North Tonawanda, on her second year of spring turkey hunting, took a nice turkey as the season drew to a close. While working an area in Newstead on May 27, a pair of gobblers came out of the woods at 8 a.m. and Duda used her 20-gauge to take the one bird open for a clean shot.
She writes, “He may just be a jake but he was my first bird and at 17 pounds nothing to be ashamed of. I’m very proud of my bird and my sense of accomplishment.”
Chris Thiel took along his two daughters, Katie, 9, and Alexandra, 12, well before sunrise on May 18 to hunt the rolling hills of Boston. Alexandra had been out with dad on an early hunt; Katie went along to see how the turkey hunt unfolds.
After seeing four unresponsive gobblers strutting away at a distance of 200 yards, another strutter walked within 30 yards of Thiel’s two decoys at 8:30 a.m. and dad took the 20-pound tom with a 9-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. Dad wrote: “My kids seem to be lucky charms since I harvested a jake last year with Alexandra and my son Anthony. I’m sure they’ll never forget this special moment.”
Special moments have occurred for Betsy Almeter, a huntress who began outings with husband Ben from their home in Bennington. The couple hunted in what seemed a non-productive blind in Wyoming County on the morning of May 22. After three hours they decided to make a move, which resulted in a gobble some 200 yards away.
A hen first appeared and passed their one decoy; a tom followed the hen. Betsy took this bird at about 20 yards, her first turkey harvest. Her aim at trophy targets was confirmed this past deer season. Using a single-shot rifle, she took a 10-point buck at about 100 yards on Dec. 4. Turkey displays will soon appear on the Almeter living room wall next to her deer mount.
Larry Becker of Gainesville never worked a mature bird while hunting locally. But he eventually located two mature toms; they birds were not vocal and did not come in to calls.
Despite the scarcity of gobblers, Becker took consolation at calling in four jakes together. He passed on them and two more jakes on the last morning of the hunt.
Novice and expert turkey hunters all noted less calling and fewer sightings, but luck and persistence paid well for some. For others, most mornings provided weather conditions that were great times to be outdoors. Perhaps that trophy tom will trot in this fall or next spring.