After the last day of my final turkey season each spring, longbeards remain on my mind. (Yes, I’ve hunted fall season as well, but the spring sensation is a different bug.) It’s not easy to say goodbye to gobblers ‘til next year after only a few months of give-and-take each spring, but it’s all part of the deal. We let them thrive unthreatened most of the year, and they reproduce so we can continue to chase new generations.
If you’ve been diagnosed with off-season turkey fever, then you probably start jonesin' real bad a month or so before your first season of the year. I feed my off-season fix in many ways. Here are some things I do that might help you get by:
Talk The Talk
Take every opportunity to talk turkey with elders and peers. Reflecting on past accomplishments will give you a warm-and-fuzzy. But also bring up past failures for outsider analysis, which might help improve your strategies for next time. Face-to-face conversations are great, but you can make your rounds more efficiently through your fingers by hitting up Facebook, Internet forums and other online social resources.
Odds are, there’s a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) that needs your help. Join. If there isn’t one near you—start one! You’ll directly influence the growth of your quarry. As an added bonus, you’ll get to hang with a bunch of bird brains just like you. (A little networking goes a long way.)
Get Call Crazy
Want to polish your calling skills and participate in some friendly competition? Get in on a turkey calling contest. The NWTF sanctions calling competitions all over the country. You’ll meet and compete against great callers, helping you refine your longbeard language skills.
Watch/Read And Dream
Live vicariously through others by turning the dial to turkey TV. Get with the times: You no longer have to wait until weekend mornings to catch great turkey hunting shows or video footage. Nowadays, there’s material online for free all over the place; the same thing goes for articles. If you’re not feeling tech savvy, go to your local sporting goods store and pick up a cheap turkey hunting DVD, book or magazine to get you through until next season.
Rub Elbows With The Locals
Turkeys are everywhere. Whether you’re in an urban or rural area, find your local flock and “get to know them.” I’ve found several local flocks just outside of downtown Saint Paul. You’ll find me pulled over on the side of the road, usually just admiring them, but sometimes I’ll bring a call to fire ’em up—just for kicks. You might hear your first spring gobble from a resident tom, long before you’re able to go after the wild, wild ones.
Savor The Flavor
If you’re one to opt for the occasional light serving of an adult beverage while out on the town or relaxing in the comfort of your home (21+-year-olds only), show your turkey-loving colors in the process. Wet your lips with a taste of Wild Turkey American Honey on the rocks. It’s the bee’s-knees with a light spur-kicking twist. You’ll gobble it up, but do so safely, responsibly and in moderation—just like stalking birds on public land. Kids can stick to turkey sandwiches.