Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2001

Ned Kehde

April 29, 2001


On opening day, John Thompson of rural Ottawa hunted in Franklin County, and straightaway the wind tore his decoy asunder. Shortly after the wind ravaged his decoy, Thompson watched the wind nearly toppled several tom turkeys as they fanned and strutted about.

At the first field he hunted, three toms gamboled around a dozen hens. But these cupidinous and wily males were either too preoccupied or too cautious to be lured into shotgun range.

So Thompson moved to a stubblefield of corn, where a massive flock of turkeys had foraged throughout the winter. Thompson described this field as "bottom ground" with a large section of woods about a mile away, as well as some isolated stands of timber for the turkeys to roost in.

At this site, he spied 11 toms. Here the wind roared out the west so to call these gobblers he had to hide upwind. Ultimately, Thompson called three into range and shot the biggest of the lot.

Although the weather wasn't ideal, Thompson called the hunting magnificent. Hunting turkeys in the wind, he added, was easier than hunting them after a deluge turns a stubblefield into a quagmire.

In fact, Thompson suspects that a brisk wind, as the one on opening day, could help a hunter call turkeys from as far as a mile away.

Like Thompson, Andy Flack of Kansas City found the turkey hunting splendid.

Flack and seven fellow hunters killed eight big toms in Coffey County during the first four days of the season by hunting winter wheat fields adjacent to riparian borders of a creek.

Opening day, however, was a bust for Flack and his friends. The wind blew at such a swift pace, reaching 70 mph on occasions, that it ripped roofs off barns. The wind's punch also kept the all but eight jakes (immature males) cloistered in the timber next to the creek.

But once the wind subsided, Flack said the turkeys left the shelter of the woods and began their courting rituals with striking intensity, and scores of toms and some jakes began spiting, drumming, strutting and fanning.

And on the third morning, Flack and a friend listened to 40 male turkeys gobbling. In all of his years of turkey hunting, he had never heard such an incredible chorus of lustful toms, and he doubts he will have the pleasure of witnessing it again.

What's more, the shooting was easy. Many of the libidinous toms were called and lured to a hen decoy, and then the trophy of the group was shot in the head with a blast from a shotgun.

Flack called this spring's turkey hunting the finest he has seen, and until the season closes on May 20, he plans to take many friends hunting in Coffey County.

Flack believes the turkey populations across eastern Kansas have grown at a runaway pace in recent years, and unless a virulent disease strikes, hunting should be spectacular for many springs to come.

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