Many avid turkey hunters never scout for the big birds in the winter. That’s likely because they’re already aware of where the turkeys are hanging out. And that’s OK for them, but for newer hunters or those not having a flock or two on or near their property, winter scouting can be a plus. The birds are easy to see against a snow background, and looking for tracks and finding them is a simple task. This is much desired for those who hunt on public land.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Flat River Chapter has announced its annual banquet will be here soon. The banquet and fundraiser will be staged March 5 at St. Joseph’s Parish Gym in Belding. A good turnout is expected.
Prior to writing this column, I glanced out a rear window to see a fox squirrel hauling one of our bird feeders away. The little thief got it down to the river bank, where it chewed on the metal screen, around its outside, as it tried to find a way to get to the goodies inside. Well, I left my desk and got on some warm clothes. Ah, I thought, those rodents will capture and destroy every feeder we have if this doesn’t stop. So I proceeded outside and retrieved the feeder. That squirrel had actually bent one side and had a hole started, and this was one of our largest and strongest feeders.
Sure, I’m sitting at my computer and looking out at a freezing stream, while the snow just keeps on coming down. But what this really does for me is put me in mind of a summer or two long ago, when I spent the warm summer months working for the (then) Michigan Conservation Department. It was between my junior and senior high school years, and several of us boys had been hired to work on a stream-improvement project on a tributary of the PM River up in Lake County.
It was colder than a well-digger’s auger as I stepped out of the truck next to the cabin and made my way through the wind and snow to the cabin door Friday. And I wasn’t expecting this sort of weather. Fact is, the weather report had predicted a mild Friday and a fair weekend. But ah, this is Michigan I thought as I fumbled in my pocket for a key.
Sure, things change. That’s the way of the world now, and it has always been that way. And Christmas has really changed over the years, at least for my family. Now we gather for a quick dinner and to exchange presents, then we all seem to disappear to our own digs. That’s not how it used to be.
I was fly fishing the Rogue River. It seemed like a normal evening, but a wind was picking up and things seemed to get darker by the minute. My concern grew, and I was about to exit the stream and head for my vehicle when a sudden whirring sound came from overhead. I looked up toward the strange sound, and there I saw a slow-moving object overhead. It was round in shape and outlined by flashing blue lights, and was about to pass directly over my head.
It’s that time of year! The deer are moving about, jumping all over the woods and even over the highways. My son-in-law Mark hit one just the other evening, and it totaled his vehicle. And that was on a major highway just east of Grand Rapids, where evening had settled in and traffic was terrific. Needless to say perhaps, but I will, Mark was quite shook up, and so were some other drivers who saw he deer but managed somehow to avoid it.
I’ve hit this subject several times each late summer, it seems. But it’s one worth the time, as this is when most deer hunters are looking forward to the firearms deer seasons. You may not take my word for it, but advance scouting is a sure way to find out where you should open the season.
In case you haven’t read about it or heard of it, a hunter is now in real trouble for shooting a mother bear. Problem was, the bear had three cubs with her, and it is illegal to shoot a mom with cubs. In the first place, it is fairly uncommon for a mother bear to have three cubs. Some have two youngsters, and most have one. And it would be possible for a hunter to not see that a single cub was trailing somewhat behind its mother. But it seems unlikely that a hunter would miss noticing three cubs trailing their mom.