Hunting a Turkey Through Hurricane Sandy
New Jersey Fall Turkey Season was open from Saturday October 27th through November 3rd2012. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy also known as “Superstorm” Sandy, reared its ugly head and made landfall in perfect synchronicity. Sandy destroyed countless homes, farms and businesses in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Fortunately, in Frelinghuysen Township, adverse impacts were limited to downed trees, closed roads, roof damage and two weeks without power.
Enough about the return of the dark ages, to the most populated urbanized area on Earth. I am going to tell you a story of how despite narrowly missing entire flocks of Turkey with my truck all summer, NOT a single of these giant flying birds exist. At least that is, on the Moose Knuckle Proving Grounds. Up in Vermont during October, they were everywhere on the Post Mills’ Airport runway.
The Turkey is North America’s largest ground nesting bird. Experts estimate, when the Pilgrims arrived here, there may have been as many as ten million gobblers waddling around. The colonists, market hunters, settlers and immigrants rapidly populating the United States, brought the large and tasty bird to near extinction. The species’ nadir occurred around 1920, with roughly thirty thousand birds left ranging the continent. Aggressive conservation efforts, led by state fish and game departments, have now resulted in the Turkey expanding beyond its native range. There now are more than 5.5 million Turkey’s roaming North America’s forests, farm fields and suburbs. Facts and figures for this paragraph from Jim Sterba’s book, “Nature Wars,” we will be reviewing in a later blog entry.
Oftentimes, Fly Fishing is about getting out there in Gods Country. The same applies for Hunting. When Turkey hunting, the hunter attempts to call in the turkey, becoming one with his/her quarry. In the fall season, the sportsman is focused on ambushing the Turkey. They will be called in, although it is not mating season and the bird is less susceptible to courtship. Mark and I were quickly overcome by the cold, sitting and waiting, you need to dress as if its at least 40 degrees colder than it actually is. The hunter has to appear invisible and keep silent when pursuing the elusive gobbler. The animal has keen sight and exceptional hearing.
Reviewing my words, I break out into a laugh, I once had an altercation with a Tom Turkey on route to Montclair State University. The vicious creature was blocking the Valley Road entrance after an exceptionally long commute on 46. No matter what we did, this cantankerous avian critter just jutted out its left wing and menacingly danced across the street. Finally, commencing a violent pecking on another student’s car. I drove straight at it, Tom yielded and the battle was won, the war continues.
Unfortunately, after hours of sitting, propped against one of Sandy’s numerous deadfalls on the Proving Grounds, Mark and I were unable to score a Turkey for Thanksgiving. This being 2012, the solution was a short trip to the ShopRite. In the spring, I will purchase more appropriate gear and make my way back in the woods for another round.
The next weekend, while Bow Hunting, Zombo had a Turkey resting under the treestand for over an hour.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and be thankful that America is so great you don’t have to hunt a Turkey to eat one today!