Only, it wasn’t a turkey. I killed approximately 12 hours of time and probably 200 mosquitoes during turkey season this year. I probably killed a few brain cells as well with all the caffeine I was feeding my face before sunrise so I wouldn’t nod off before the first gobble. On the bright side I can tell from a very not-thought-out experiment that attempting to turkey hunt without wearing bug spray may be the end of your sanity. I tried it once last year and my hunt ended in a sprint, not a jog, back to the truck as I vowed to never set foot in the woods again without bug spray and a ThermaCell. What is a ThermaCell you might ask? Only the greatest invention ever for hunters, anglers and campers alike. When activated, it gives the user a 15 x 15 feet zone of mosquito repellent, and it actually works as advertised. Turn it on before you get to where you plan on staying and within a minute you won’t hear the buzzing in your ears anymore. I’m only saying this because even bug suits don’t protect you from the irritating “bzzzzzzzz” that you’re definitely going to hear with just the suit or bug spray on. Don’t get me wrong, I still soak down with bug spray to keep the ticks off, but the ThermaCell is where its at if you want swat free hunting during the early fall and late spring.
I’ve come to the conclusion that is it near impossible to only hunt on the weekends and kill a wild turkey. If you really want to make it difficult, you can also live an hour from where you hunt and be getting married at the end of May. Because, then every time you think you can go hunting – you can’t. But, I’ve still got one more day to seal the deal on a South Georgia wild turkey. I’ve pushed my pride aside for one day and if Mr. Jake comes walking out instead of Mr. Tom, he’s in for a dirt nap just the same. If you turkeys are reading this, I’ll be there tomorrow morning at daylight. I’m tired of your shenanigans. You strut in the field every morning at the same time and I show up and wait you out and you don’t show. Somethings gotta give. Send out the village idiot, or say hey Jake, doesn’t that hen (my decoy) look hot to trot out there in that field. Make a sacrifice and I’ll give you a break until next year. I might let Mr. Fox and Mr. Coyote walk next time if you guys don’t cut me some slack. I’ll report back next week with hopefully good news about a fat, Georgia turkey in the fryer this weekend. Best of luck to everyone giving it one last shot!
The DNR responded to my e-mail with an additional explanation of what is in store for the lands managed by DNR. While it looks like WMAs and PFAs will remain unchanged, except the possibility of users other than hunters and anglers may now have to pay fees to use these areas for hiking, birdwatching and other things. I’d still suggest that anyone who can attend these meetings and voice your opinion. If you can’t go, then be sure to e-mail or call the Georgia DNR and let them know your opinion. I genuinely hope this thing works out in the best interest for everybody, because it seems like hunters and anglers have been paying for more than our share for a while. Here is what the Georgia DNR has to say to shed some light on a very vague first notice of these meetings:
Development of a Lands Classification System for DNR Lands
The Department of Natural Resources wishes to receive public input on a proposal to re-clasify, i.e. re-name, lands we manage . Currently, properties are known by several different names including Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), Public Fishing Areas (PFA), Natural Areas (NA) ,Outdoor Recreation Areas (ORA), State Historic Parks, State Parks, State Historic Sites and others). The diversity of names and complex classification currently used for DNR properties likely confuses people and may give the impression that certain lands are not available for many allowed uses. This proposal bundles all WRD-properties into a single name (to be determined through this public input process). It also reduces and simplifies the variety of names used in the State park system. A simplified classification system will improve public understanding, encourage public visitation, and facilitate DNR’s marketing efforts.
Our proposal, developed with the assistance of a public steering committee, is that WRD-managed properties will be reduced to one of the following names:
State Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Area
Conservation Recreation Area
Outdoor Recreation Area
Wildlife Management Area (no change)
Public Fishing Area ( no change).
The names of “State Parks” and “State Historic Sites” will remainunchanged in the State park system.
Charging a Fee for Recreational Users on WRD-Managed Lands
Currently, people hunting and fishing on WRD-managed properties pay a fee. People are not charged a fee for using WRD-managed lands for other purposes (e.g., mountain biking, bird watching, photography, and other recreation). To provide a more equitable and financially sustainable system, the Department is seeking public input on a proposal to charge a fee for the use of designated areas on WRD-managed properties. Designated areas may include: shooting ranges, special use trails, campsites, defined recreational zones and, in some cases, may include an entire property.
I’m still trying to just kill one Tom this year, and this lucky guy goes and kills a world record for his first turkey, and to top it off – it’s a bow kill. Todd Pringnitz, President of White Knuckle Productions, LLC., has always had a passion for white-tailed deer hunting, but never gotten a turkey. I thought my first was a big deal with an 11 1/2-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spur on one foot and 1 1/2-inch on the other. Pringnitz topped that one big time with this amazing turkey that had six freaking beards! The big eastern tom turkey had over 49 inches of combined beard length, weighed 25.9 pounds, and had 1 1/4-inch spurs. He scored 149.6875 points which beat the previous record of 139.2400. To read the entire story of this amazing hunt and humongous wild turkey, click here.
Spring turkey hunting is perhaps the most intriguing, difficult hunting I have ever participated in. I’d tried just about every type of hunting anyone can think of and I’ve never been so dumbfounded by a bird that seems so stupid during deer season. But, the minute turkey season opens up, they miraculously shut up and disappear. Just last year I was drawn for the Silver Lake WMA opening weekend turkey quota hunt that just a few lucky Georgians got a chance to hunt. The morning before the season I did my scouting duties and located more than ten gobblers gobbling their heads off in several different areas on the WMA. But, on opening morning when I went to the most productive location the morning before, I heard one lone gobble. Moving to the other locations we didn’t hear another gobble at all. It is possible to kill a turkey without it gobbling, but just their ability to make things difficult seems to be the most peculiar thing I’ve ever experienced.
This past weekend I thought I’d outsmart a whole plethora of turkeys by not walking through their home turf, but using a non-conventional method. I spent Saturday morning floating a public waterway that was surrounded by public hunting land to listen for my first thunder chicken of the year. Natural waterways can be a quick and quiet way to travel long distances when searching for gobbling turkeys. We were able to launch our boat and start our float 15 minutes before sunrise and head to the middle of the river to float and wait on a gobble. It wasn’t even a minute after 7 a.m. before we heard our first gobble. But, this gobbler happened to be on the few acres of land on the whole waterway that weren’t public and once again I had be outsmarted by a goofy looking bird.
Our method of stalking the turkeys wasn’t productive Saturday morning, but it did remind me of another productive vehicle for public land hunting – a bicycle. A good mountain bike can be an excellent vehicle for travel on public hunting land roads that are off limits to trucks and ATVs. Not only are bicycles quiet, but they can go almost anywhere fast and you can still carry all your gear in your pack. You may need to purchase a gun rack to adorn the handle bars for a true carefree ride, but there isn’t much too be added to a mountain bike to make it huntworthy. Just always make sure your gun is unloaded before you try the backflip jump over the creek after that big Tom.