TURKEY TRADITIONS!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: April 20, 2024

Spring is a great time to hunt and camp. Most hunting happens in the Fall but calling in Spring Gobblers is an amazing tradition.

 There is something magical about hunting in a forest before the leaves come out. Back in Maryland, and the eastern states, when the Judas Trees are blooming, the turkeys are gobbling. The Judas tree is unusual. The flowers come out of the bark of the trees. These pink/purple flowers mimic the blood of Judas, who hung himself on this species of tree. He was ashamed for turning Jesus over to the Roman authorities. Dogwoods also bloom at the same time. Their flowers symbolize the cross. Huntting turkeys is truly a religious experience. 

Turkey hunting is tough. These smart birds have great eyesight. Calling skills are required to tease a gobbler into shotgun range, under 50 yards. Every Gobbler that I have tagged was within 20 yards. 

My son and many friends have tagged gobblers with me on their shoulder. Turkeys are a perfect hunt for learning and mentoring. Making the choices about when to shoot, where to aim, and encouragement is important. 

My son’s first turkey almost never happened. For some reason the action on his shotgun was open. I looked over to check his hold and position and noticed. I quietly told him to close the action on his 20-gauge pump. The pair of gobblers never had a clue. When it was time to shoot, Kyle finished the deal perfectly and I shot the second bird. 

Tagging a mature and smart Gobbler ranks with calling in an archery season Bull Elk. They are just about 800 pounds apart. The tactics and strategies are very similar. If turkeys could smell the way elk can, I t would be almost impossible to tag a gobbler. Mating season is the only time when these amazing Big Game critters make foolish mistakes. They are focused on mating and not survival. 

In Montana the weather can be crazy. I have tagged gobblers while hunting in a snowstorm. In Maryland the thunderstorms can really get the gobblers whipped up. Successful hunters adapt. Wind can really make turkey hunting tougher. It becomes harder to hear calls and everything in the landscape is moving. This makes turkeys even more cautious. 

Memories are the best trophies. The hunting traditions in a turkey camp include food, practicing calls, sharing new ideas and gear. I make Mojos, or good luck necklaces, for every hunter. These may consist of a spur, shotgun shell, feathers, or some other artifact connected to a rawhide cord. They are presented around the campfire. 

Wild turkeys are not as fat and flavorful as a Butterball domestic bird. We usually grill our birds at the camp. A spatchcock style of grilling works fine. Use your favorite spice blend as a rub. The legs, and leftovers, can be picked for soup or sandwiches. Somehow everything just tastes better over the campfire.

A Gobbler tail, beard, and spurs are often saved for some type of special display. There are many ideas on a Google search. This trophy display can be amazing and celebrates the hunt and the amazing beauty of a wild turkey. God must have taken a nap when he designed the turkey’s head. A gobbler’s head is just ugly, and no necklace or taxidermy can change it. 

Spring Turkey hunting season is several weeks long. You don’t have to wait until the Fall to use this year’s license. 

Gobble, gobble, cluck, purr!

Montana Grant

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