Turkey hunting during the month of May generated some well-crafted poetry and prose from area hunters.
The aura of being afield and trying to entice wild turkeys each spring season remains a mainstay, regardless of sighting and harvest counts.
Experts have charted a steady decline in gobbler numbers, but devoted turkey trekkers take the time and make the efforts to lure trophy-type toms with calls, decoys and an array of hunting approaches crafted to draw in turkeys worth tagging.
Christopher Thiel of North Tonawanda did well this past season, tagging two toms on hunts in the Boston hills. After bringing home his season’s limit of turkeys, Thiel penned a poem that expresses the often unspoken aura turkey hunters feel and ingrain while hunting.
Here is Thiel’s verse:
“Slipping into the New York darkness, beating the sun to its break,
Longings emerge of an organic excursion some cannot shake.
Traversing rolling hills where verdant canopy sings,
Wood thrushes serenade the day to begin.
A distant Throaty gobble stirs a lust in the heart,
Aural acuity heightens; visual periphery dissolves apart.
Eager anxiety presents unique emotion,
Struggling to ascertain the moment’s evolution.
A jerky glimpse of crimson and swaying beard of slate,
Forges the notion that unblemished actions now determine good fate.
Motion ebbs as a mental trance stakes its claim,
The thunder of shot echoes, lightning strikes the game.
A bird in the hand that’s worth twenty in the bush,
An inadequate measure of the ethereal rush.
Crows proceed to quarrel with upstate gobblers down below,
As the ancestral bond has been consummated of turkey hunters long ago.”
Thiel captures the feelings of uncertainty, enjoyment, accomplishment and the bond hunters in the past have made with the bounty of the resource and with the prey. At 39, he has enjoyed successful hunts and admits to going nine years without tagging a spring bird in seasons past.
That bond continued in East Aurora where Marty Tatoian each year not only encourages his family members to get out and enjoy the hunt, but he also recruits other young and new hunters.
Tatoian writes, “A couple of years ago a friend of mine’s youngest son, Alex Frietag, became interested in hunting and came to one of my Hunter Ed classes to get his certificate.”
That class led to unsuccessful turkey hunts, one miss during an earlier Youth Hunt, and a doe harvest this past deer season, but a triumph at turkey tagging remained illusive.
Tatoian had a good number of gobbler responses earlier in the season in Colden, so he took Alex there before 5 a.m. on May 31, the last day of the season for what he called a “last chance gobbler.”
By 5 a.m. the crows were steadily cawing and just at sunrise the owls started in with their replies; Alex heard a turkey respond to the owl hoots. Each move toward the gobbling resulted in fewer answers to calls.
Finally a pair of hens moved into their area and got close enough (about 15 yards away) to simply let the hens attract any tom gobbler in the area. Tatoian had Alex set his Remington 1100 in the direction of the hens where a harvestable bird should appear. It did.
They saw a gobbler moving in at some 50 yards and waited while the hens alternately putted and yelped enough to draw the bird to about 25 yards away where Alex got a clean kill with No. 5 shot at 6:45 a.m.
After the excitement of tagging his very first spring turkey, Alex opted for a breakfast Tatoian promised after taking a bird.
The youth now has a turkey-hunt accomplishment and can add it to his Eagle Scout rank award he will receive this month.
For Tatoian, bird numbers were respectable. “I think the birds fared pretty well,” he said of current trends and a long cold winter. He called in 6 to 8 hens, heard at least 10 to 12 gobblers and could have killed three in only five or six outings this spring.
Turkey numbers may be improving and hunters report some impressive harvests, but it might be bit too early to apply the Yogi Berra gag line, “Nobody goes there, it’s too crowded.”