Friday, April 15, 2011

Montana Outdoors: Gobblers on the Prowl...

...Despite this year's version April looking and feeling more like January gobblers such as this Eastern variety shot by the way not far from the shores of Flathead Lake are indeed on the prowl...Season opened last Saturday and runs thru May 15.
From what I'm hearing some of Montana's traditional hotspots, thanks to a really tough old fashioned winter which at least here in southwest Montana just won't go away, this spring aren't so hot. Ashland, I hear, is particularly grim and while I haven't heard any first hand reports my guess is things down Ekalaka way aren't real rosy either. Having said that I know from past experience wild turkeys are tough and resourceful hombres when it comes to dealing lousy weather. An old pal of mine did a graduate study on how our largest upland gamebird dealt with cruel winters of northern Pennsylvania...in a nutshell they moved onto spring seeps and spent the worst of it fat and happy dining on aquatic plants and insects...whenever there was a lull in the action they move out to forage on more traditional fare. A few years ago I met a southeastern Montana rancher who according to FWP biologists' best estimates, hosted as many as 800 "of the black bastards." Even if the tally was off by half that's one helluva pile of turkeys to find roosting in your yard, more to the point I suppose, one helluva pile a turkey crap to deal. By the time I ran into the poor harried soul spring gobbler season was well along, spring had at last sprung and the bulk of the herd long gone...Did he mind if I hunted his place? "Kill 'em all and if any your buddies still got tags bring 'em on..." I took that to be a green light and later that afternoon killed a big Merriam's a few hundred yards from the ranch buildings...some days you eat chicken, eh?

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