It’s time to get geared up for turkey season, and the best way to do that is to attend one of the 24 free turkey hunting seminars scheduled across the state in March and April. The seminars are a joint effort between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
Let's face it, turkey season can't get here soon enough. The groundhog just popped out of his hole and has told us spring will come early. It's too bad for us that he doesn't decide when turkey hunting season starts, because who out there isn't ready to take a seat in the woods and listen for gobbles from the closest treeline, then match wits with the big boys and see if we have what it takes to fool them into shotgun range?
North Carolina hunters recorded the second-highest wild turkey harvest on record during the 2015 spring season, downing 17,828 gobblers, according to statistics released by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Call-maker John Tanner of Hemingway, S.C., knows how to make high-quality calls out of a number of different woods, as his newest turkey call, the Crystal Clucker, shows. The Crystal Clucker, which pairs a circle of frosted crystal over glass, is made in either cherry or black walnut, and it comes with an Osage Orange striker peg. The call and striker hang from an adjustable lanyard so it can be hung around a hunter’s neck for easy access.
Turkey hunters can be successfully using many varieties and gauges of shotguns, even archery equipment, but most hunters stick to scatterguns because they offer a better chance of success and can be fitted to different hunting approaches.
Killing a turkey is an achievement. Shooting one with a bow is impressive. Shooting a bearded hen with a bow is the stuff of legend. Travis Sykes of Leasburg did just that April 26 when he killed a 10-pound, 9-ounce hen that sported an 8 ½-inch beard. The bird closed to 15 yards before catching an arrow from Sykes’s bow.
His big gobbler had been dead a good half-hour before Monty Mesimer of Atkinson noticed there was something unusual about the Pender County tom. He had more beards than he was supposed to. Quite a few more.
Zach Satterfield said it was common knowledge that a big gobbler with two beards lived on a farm he hunted in Rockingham County close to the Caswell County line. “He was seen during deer season for the last year or two, but nobody ever saw him during turkey season,” he said. But the big gobbler’s “taxes” came due on April 15, when he showed up 30 yards from the end of Satterfield’s shotgun barrel. Now, Satterfield, a 19-year-old Reidsville resident, has in his freezer one of the biggest turkeys ever taken in North Carolina.
Call-maker John Tanner of Hemingway, S.C., might have cut his teeth building duck and turkey calls out of ancient cypress, but it’s clear that he’s really hit on how to make high-quality calls out of any of a handful of different woods, as his newest turkey call, the Crystal Clucker, shows.
Sportsmen across North Carolina flooded the woods earlier this month as the spring gobbler season opened, and many have enjoyed reasonable success. But as the season wanes, the gobblers have heard all the misplaced yelps and purrs and busted fidgety hunters, and they’re a lot more wary. It’s a time when guides like Karl Helmkamp of Albemarle Outfitters in the northeastern corner of the state really shine.
• Scout near creekbottoms and river bottoms. Look for places where turkeys have been scratching for bugs and worms. Follow their trail back up the ridges. Most turkeys will hang out just a few hundred yards from a stream.