If there was ever a more glorious sunrise I’ve yet to see it. If there is a more picturesque turn of the century farmhouse I’ve yet to see the canvas it's painted on.
I’ve yet to see the Saturday morning hunting show where the birds responded better .
Shortly after fly down the birds checked out our decoys. A few went into half strut, occasionally breaking into a full strut. There was a brief moment when I thought they were going to strut right into our setup.
However, an old clever hen lead them away and into the woods. Normally I may have waited them out to see if they came back. On this delightful property however, access was granted only with the promise we would be off it prior to 8 am each morning. We were happy to oblige the landowner’s request.
We made a quick decision to move around the small farm pond and setup hopefully in front of them in an old apple orchard.
A few soft hen yelps brought an eruption of gobbles from multiple birds. Very excited birds.
From our vantage point the sun’s rays were painting the landscape the most incredible hues of orange and red. The pond was smooth and flat as glass. Dew soaked leaves sparkled like nature’s prisms, sending rays of reflected sunlight into the chilly spring air like shooting stars.
Perhaps 10 minutes had elapsed since the initial call and the multiple return gobbles. And then silence. Dreaded silence.
Knowing full well these smart birds will often sneak in silent, I moved only my eyes scanning the wood line looking for movement. I saw a big grey squirrel scamper across a fallen beech tree. A chickadee fluttered from branch to branch. It seemed to be enjoying the sun’s warming rays as much as I was. Up near the top of the hill, a doe gingerly picked her way towards the safety of the woods for the day.
One more series of hen yelps brought another immediate response from the still unseen birds. This time however they were much closer and coming this way...in a hurry.
I snuggled down into the shotgun. I sensed they were committed. How they made it that close without me seeing them is a mystery. That however, is part of the lure and excitement of turkey hunting.
Seconds later I saw them coming. Committed was an understatement! It was a foot race. There were gobbles and double gobbles. With each yard closer the gobbles grew louder and more intense. Their gobbles reverberated throughout the farmyard and straight to my hunter’s heart much like a bass drum.
The gobblers were grouped tight together once they were in effective range. I just needed one to break away for a clean single harvest. I was permitted two birds but I didn't want my season to end 30 minutes into it. Add to that, I wanted to hunt my second bird with my recurve bow, so I needed one to peel off from the group of 4.
Some days are diamonds they say, and this was one of them. The biggest of the group broke away. The rest they say is history.
While attaching my tag and admiring the turkey I couldn’t help but think “Wow this never gets old”.
Walking back to the truck with the bird slung over my shoulder I was experiencing that satisfied feeling as only a hunter can . I had harvested a turkey on his own turf with all the drama and excitement anyone with a hunter’s soul could ask for. It doesn't always go in our favor so it just makes it extra special when it does.
In my mind I had taken him honestly, ethically, and really, on his terms. These feelings were more like emotions running like a train wreck through me. Coursing through my veins. Pounding in my heart and brain. And I loved every second of it. It's a rush like no other to cleanly harvest a delicious, healthy meal where the outcome is uncertain at the outset.
That’s when it hit me. I had played the game within the rules written by both law and nature.
Driving to the check in station I wished hunters in my home province of Nova Scotia could experience hunting wild turkey. I knew they all would not be able to make this journey to Maine every spring. A few can and do, but most can’t. I actually felt a little sad for those who were missing out .
Enter the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation. They are on a mission to expand and promote turkey hunting in Canada. Their code of ethics and true passion for the sport mimics mine as well as most other conservation minded hunters.
One quick look at their motto “ Conserve. Enhance. Protect “ sums it up in three simple words.
While relatively new in Canada they have reached a point where there are multiple chapters operating in every province. They have teamed up with leaders in the hunting industry as well as grassroots organizations and are making a significant difference in spreading the word and improving habitat for turkey and other wildlife.
In future articles, we will look at projects more specifically and with greater detail. My main objective in this initial article is to introduce the CWTF to you all. I’ll do my best to keep readers of this page up to date with events and undertakings, both local and nationally. Its an easy group to approach and join. You will find likeminded hunters who want to make a difference not only for turkey and turkey hunters but hunters and the environment overall. No matter your passion in the outdoors, the CWTF is likely on board and already fighting to conserve it, or enhance it, or protect it.
Making a difference is really as simple as joining. As a hunter/conservationist that in itself is a huge contribution to what we all love.
Rest assured, the CWTF is working hard to ensure our sport never gets old, or out of date, or it’s voice never heard.
Conserve.Enhance.Protect. A simple ideology whose time has come. For us and future generations.
Keep your chins in the wind,