Spring Thunder
This year’s Oregon spring wild turkey season looks to be the best producer for hunters in the state’s history. The mild weather conditions of the past winter, coupled with great poult survival from last year's nesting, have allowed a successful recruitment of birds into Oregon’s growing turkey population. Hunters have been finding turkeys "everywhere." This does not mean the hunting has been any easier than normal, just that there seem to be more birds in more places than ever before and the opportunity to successfully cut a spring turkey tag appears to be higher than in the past seasons.

Opening morning pressure was off quite a bit this year as it fell on Easter. And with the second morning being the first day of the workweek for most hunters, a low angle entry into the spring turkey woods seems to have also allowed for a more satisfying uncrowded experience for hunters who haunted the more well-known destinations.

Unfortunately, I found I was the second-man to enter my favorite spot on opening morning. An unhurried hunt in the later-morning hours had been my plan. Arriving to find another hunter on the hidden ground and a nice tom having already been taken at first light, I looked at the less than desirable proposition of hunting a flock that had been broken up and scattered to the four winds. However, it was opening morning, there were a few hours before the family arrived for Easter brunch, and I had waited anxiously over the past 10.5 months for this sunrise, so the hunt was on.

The dichotomy of turkey hunting is that on any given day the birds can be looked at as complete morons. The fever of their desire to breed will bring them on the run to the hunter’s call. The other side is the maddeningly slow approach of a wary tom whose sixth sense keeps him on the edge of the killing field and out of the grip of the hunter’s gun. Attempting to hunt a tom that has already witnessed the death of another from his flock just an hour prior, makes about as much sense as hitting yourself in the head with a hammer just to hear the bells ring. But, this was turkey hunting and the unlikely can happen … and it did!

Topping out on a small ridge above the scene of the earlier killing, I let loose a few searching calls from Knight and Hale’s Old Yeller. I had it in my mind that I might get a response from a bird in the next drainage. It wasn’t long before I had gobbles coming from the direction of the broken woods I had just walked through. How could you figure this one? I’ve got a gobbler from a broken flock heading into my call, and I’m standing in thick brush you couldn’t throw a dead cat through. There seemed to be two dummies with a destiny to share this morning!

Hurriedly I grabbed my gear and took a run at more open country. I quickly set up in the broken timber just off the ridge and parked my rump on the Little BigHorn Pack-lounge. I immediately recognized this spot. I was sitting in the same seat, only 20 yards from where I had been last season when the big bobcat busted the flock of turkeys I was calling and made his mad rush at me. I uneasily remembered the look of the mirrors in his eyes as I squeezed the trigger as he was in the air only nine feet from me (Western Hunter.com- 2000).

The tom’s gobbles from the spot I had just left brought me back to the moment. Several yelps from the call and a lot of quiet settled him onto the path toward my stand. The movement of his red head through the understory of the dark timber was electric! He barely broke his stride when he caught sight of the new Buckwing decoys. Moving intently toward the pair, the tom believed their look and would not stop even though I loudly putted twice from my diaphragm call. I pulled the trigger on him as he continued to walk into the hen’s face. He was only three feet from his date when the party ended!

This unexpected turn of events is part of the draw that spring turkey-hunting holds. The unexpected, coming to fruition. The other side of this is how a sure thing can go wrong day after day. I have three huge toms sitting in one of two different roost trees night after night. It should be a no-brainer to set up and kill one when his feet hit the ground in the morning—yeah, Right! What is this — the third week of season? Well, I’ve got almost 30 days more to try and get in their way. You gotta love this!

A real quick heads-up needs your attention. If you plan to enter an application for any of Oregon’s controlled fall hunts, you have only a week until the deadline on May 15. However, as more than 70% of the hunters procrastinate and do not hit the line at a Point of Sale (POS) computer station until the last minute, failure of the system is common. If you want to assure yourself of getting your application in on time, and wish to avoid the nightmare of standing in a long line for an hour or more while praying the computers don’t crash — go do the business NOW! It can save you a huge headache on the 15th!


Frank Medicine Wolf Springer

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