WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Ideal time of the year to blend field and stream

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Ideal time of the year to blend field and stream



How does Turkey ‘n’ Trout sound? Or shall we call it TNT?

Either way, it means an excellent time for area sportsmen to get out into our Connecticut woods ‘n’ waters to get the best of both of our outdoor worlds.

From reports coming in to us, the start of the wild turkey season in Connecticut got off to a silent start for many of our area sportsmen. The main complaint has been that the male turkeys — a.k.a. Toms, Long Beards, Jakes and Gobblers — have been rather silent the first couple of days.

In my travels I have seen a few flocks of wild turkeys and most of them had numerous hens in the group being watched over by one or two male turkeys. This being the case, it might take a while before the males start sounding off with their familiar gobble, letting any hens in the area that they are available.

If you have never tried it, hunting wild turkeys in the spring of the year can be really exciting, especially if you get to call in a mature male turkey.

Since 1975, after the release of some wild turkeys in Connecticut, flock and individual sightings of turkeys have become quite common in our area.

In fact, many folks seem to think that they are not really wild because they are now showing up in some areas of our cities.

Try calling one in the wild and then you might get the picture. In the woods, most of them are very hard to call in.

For starters, in the early part of the year, as the breeding season begins, with the wild turkey it is generally the largest Tom that controls the breeding of the hens in the flock. He is the “bully” and many of the younger males will go the other way when the Tom is around because he will beat them up for the rights to breed.

It is interesting to note that a couple of the turkey hunters I have heard from did not hear a gobble on Opening Day. Turkey hunters use the gobble of the male turkey to locate the area he is in and then try to trick him in with a turkey call that mimics a hen looking for some loving.

Some hunters tend to overdo the hen calling. Then there are times when a lot of calling and yelping (another hen turkey sound) is what it takes to get them in.

My first couple of years of turkey hunting were laughable at best because I learned by making a lot of mistakes. However, over the years, between hunting in Connecticut and New York, I have managed a good number of turkeys during the spring hunt.

During the spring hunt the hours are from one half-hour before sunrise to noon — and only a male turkey may be tagged.

Some of the adult males sport what is called a “beard,” a hair-like feather that protrudes from the breast of the male and can be seen quite easily. The younger turkeys, called “Jakes,” will have a shorter beard, usually 3-5 five inches, and sometimes is hard to see.

If there is no dominant Tom in the area, Jakes will generally answer a hen call by a hunter. I have seen them at times actually race each other to be the first one to get the invisible hen. On the other hand, I have seen them go absolutely quiet when the big old Tom let out with his commanding gobble.

When turkey hunting, I get a thrill out of just hearing the woods come alive with the approach of dawn. I usually sit for a while without calling just to see if there are any turkeys in the area. Believe me when I tell you, if they start to gobble your heart rate will jump just a bit.

When you enter the turkey woods it is usually dark and you should try to do so as quietly as possible. One time I went in to my spot in the dark and sat down to wait for first light. Imagine my surprise when the first gobble came almost over my head. (NO, I did not get that turkey.)

By the way, did I mention the fact that wild turkeys are excellent table fare? Edna and I have enjoyed a number of Thanksgiving meals that featured wild turkey. No additives: just Mother Nature’s natural foods. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Here in Connecticut, the spring season for wild turkey opened April 24 and runs until May 25.

You can hunt wild turkey on both private land and state lands. On state lands, you can harvest two bearded turkeys and on private land you can put your tag on three.

You must have the proper licenses and permits, consisting of either a firearms hunting license or a small game and deer hunting archery permit, plus a Connecticut resident game bird conservation stamp.

So why not give TNT a try to make your day in the great outdoors a memorable one?

Fishing derby

The City of Meriden / Meriden Rod & Gun Club’s annual Children’s Fishing Derby is Saturday, May 11, at Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park.

This is a great time for kids and parents to enjoy some really great fishing. This is also “free fishing” day for adults who do not have a fishing license.

The Meriden Rod & Gun Club provides the volunteers to run the derby for the City of Meriden.

There will be many prizes for the kids, plus free hot dogs and soft drinks.

The Connecticut DEEP Inland Fisheries Division will also be on hand to let the kids stock the trout. Stocking and registration takes place at 9 a.m. The derby will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

And speaking of fishing, why doesn’t anyone listen to me when I tell them that there is some fantastic fishing to be had at Mirror Lake? I have been getting reports of those smart enough to fish there coming away with their limits many times.

Q-River cleanup

Don’t forget the Quinnipiac River Watershed Cleanup tomorrow morning, Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Meet at QRWA Headquarters on Oregon Road in Meriden or at 135 John St. in Wallingford. Rain date is Saturday, May 11, same time.

Apologies

I must have been brain dead when I wrote last week’s column on the Hunter Game Dinner and left out the Meriden Lions Club Game Dinner, which was headed up by Meriden Lion Club member and Executive Chef Joe Berg.

This one also ranked among the top of my list.

Sorry, fellow Lions and Joe Berg.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving to protect our great country. 


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