I’ve been out three times so far in pursuit of Old Tom. Haven’t enjoyed the taste of wild turkey yet, but I just pushed back from the table after enjoying a delicious mess of morels. Miss Bonnie rolled them in flour and dropped them into an iron skillet with hot olive oil.
Um! Woodland fish, some call them.
So the time spent in the April woods hasn’t been without profit.
Do you remember the column about – nah, you wouldn’t remember that. It’s been over a year ago.
It was about Belle the Beltone Dog. She hangs out in my bedroom, sleeps under the covers. She got my two hearing aids I had left on my bed stand for the night and chewed them up into little pieces. Later, I went to sleep with one in my ear. It fell out during the night and she ate that one. Six thousand dollars worth, gone. Animals are attracted by human earwax, hearing specialists say.
She hasn’t had a chance to eat another one, and I don’t think she would if she got the chance.
But now the coyotes are picking on me.
I’m hunting on a 200-acre hillside farm in southwestern Greenup County. It’s a 25-mile drive from my driveway. I’m the only one in there. The landowner reports seeing turkeys every day as he goes to feed and check on his cattle.
After a rough-feeling morning, I hit the woods at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, opening day.. I hunted the long hollow with narrow pasture field and eventually made it slowly and deliberately up a rocky hillside road to the pasture at the top. It was up there that I heard a gobbler and hunkered down in the middle of the sloping pasture to make a few enticing hen calls on the box call. I didn’t want to shoot the shotgun with both hearing aids in, so I took the left, more powerful, one out and laid it in my lap.
The gobbler never did show up, and eventually I gave up and made my way back down toward the hollow. I was over halfway down when I thought of the hearing aid.
Back up the mountain, down on my hands and knees in the general area where I remembered hunkering down, with no luck.
Sunday morning before church I engaged the four-wheel drive on the Ranger and drove to the top of the ridge pastures at 7 o’clock. Saw or heard nothing up there. Spent another hour looking for the hearing aid, again with no luck.
Came down off the mountain in slight rain and approached the barn and the main gate at 9 a.m.
Holy cow! A flock of eight turkeys walked out from behind the barn, 50 yards from me.
I stopped, turned off the engine, watched. They saw me. They flew across the gate and landed on the steep wooded hillside on the other side. I searched in vain for a white head and a beard among the lot. It was still too long a shot even had he been mixed in with them, although I’ve made up my mind I’m going to shoot at any gobbler that’s within 50 yards or less.
I could see them going up the hill through the trees in no hurry, but no gobbler was with them.
I made a few calls with no response, unlocked the gate, watched them disappear over the top of the hill, and headed home.
I was back Monday evening about 5 p.m. I drove to the site of the lost hearing aid, and this time I walked right to it.
Or what was left of it. It was in tiny pieces, with a tooth mark or two in the largest piece of plastic that survived. I believe it was a coyote that did the damage, judging from the size of the tooth mark. But it could have been a raccoon, ‘possum, skunk…
I put the pieces in my pocket, drove back into the hollow, and set myself down in the barn, out of the rain. There’s a deep hollow behind the barn. I figured to ambush a tom as he gathered his harem and headed for the roost, which a little scout work revealed was up that hollow. By 8 p.m. no turkeys had showed up, and calling at roosting time was to no avail.
I took the ruined hearing aid to Robert Black, hearing aid practitioner at Beltone in Portsmouth. He said a few words over it and we buried it.
Steady rain on Ohio’s spring turkey season opening day this past Monday made for tough hunting. Ohio hunters killed 1,712 turkey that first day, down more than 1,000 from last year’s opening day kill of 2,768.
The top county was Ashtabula, where hunters took 85 birds.
A special youth-only hunt for hunters age 17 and under held April 18-19 resulted in a statewide kill of 1,814 birds, compared to 1,838 taken in 2008. Top county was Ashtabula with 66.
Scioto County’s regular season opening day harvest was 33, compared to 24 last year.
The first six days of the season Kentucky hunters statewide killed 13,820 wild turkeys, with 104 of those “mistakes” – or hens, which are illegal in both Kentucky and Ohio.
In the northeastern corner of the state, Lewis County had a harvest of 103, Greenup County 80, Carter County 144 and Boyd County 57.
Kentucky’s spring gobbler season runs through sundown May 10, while Ohio’s runs through noon May 17.
Kentucky hunters, resident and nonresident alike, have until the end of Thursday to apply for a permit for a quota elk hunt. So far 33,390 people have paid their $10 fee and registered for the drawing. Applications for the 1,000 permits available have come in from Canada, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Main. You can apply on line at www.fw.ky.gov.
This will be the ninth hunt since the elk were introduced to southeastern Kentucky in 1997. Ten permits were available the first season. The herd of free-roaming elk is now estimated at 10,000 animals.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com