2019 Mountain Music Festival ~ Tennessee Style
Turkey hunting has long been one of my passions. Just as increasing daylight each spring drives gobblers to display in anticipation of the breeding season, the approach of Opening Day drives me to prepare for that event. As March 30, 2019 neared–the opening day of the Tennessee spring gobbler season–I began my yearly ritual of early morning listening for gobbling turkeys. I can only scout and hunt on weekends because of my job so I’ve had to make the best of my limited time.
March 30, 2019 ~ I was up at 4:00 am. I prepared a fresh pot of coffee and as the rich aroma filled the kitchen, I got dressed as quietly as I could. I didn’t want to wake my sleeping wife whom had been battling a bout of the flu. I stowed my shotgun and turkey vest in the truck last night. I filled my Stanley travel thermos and stole into the bedroom to kiss my sleeping wife’s forehead. She mumbled something sounding like, “Good luck,” as I eased out of the dark room. I shut off the kitchen light, locked, and softly pulled the back door closed behind me as I walked out onto the deck. The sky was overcast but it was warm. It was time to head to the woods!
I was where I wanted to be in the Baugh Hollow about 1/2 an hour before it was light. One of my most favorite times of the day is when the dawn slowly brightens the world and the songbirds greet the day. I stood outside my truck, drinking coffee, and listened. The creaking of peepers and trilling of American toads provided an early morning symphony. I love this time of year!
Finally, I heard a gobble as far away as one can be heard. It was 0621. He gobbled that one time and remained silent. As dim light turned to broad daylight, I heard single shots ring out on hilltops and ridges near and far. At least some hunters were encountering birds. By 0700, I hadn’t heard any turkeys, save the one from earlier. I knew all birds had left the roost so I began to slowly wander through the large hollow myself, calling very sporadically.
I encountered this old relic from simpler times past.
The dainty wood violet ranks high upon my list of favorite flowers. They are one of the first blossoms to appear in the spring, plentiful, and provide a spark of color on an otherwise drab forest floor.
It won’t be long before this trout lily adds her color to the spring flora.
By 0900, I had not heard any other turkeys and decided to call it quits for the day. A front is coming and as the wind picks up, I feel like it is suppressing turkey activity. Even the songbirds grew quieter. Tomorrow is another day.
March 31, 2019 ~ It rained on and off all night. I didn’t set my alarm because I’ve never had much success on the mornings after a front moves through overnight. I woke at 0630 however, and got up to make a pot of Joe. As it brewed, I stepped out onto my deck. It was plenty light and I found the temperature had plummeted on the backside of the passing front which made things rather frosty. I stood there only a moment before I heard the cackle of a hen pitching down and saw her descending silhouette through the pines behind my home. I listened for a gobble but heard nothing in response to her excited final approach. After I poured a cup of coffee, I returned to the deck to listen, this time dressed a little warmer. It was only a moment before I heard a booming gobble come from the far side of the 20 acre woodlot to the rear of my home. He gobbled several times more as I stood there and listened. I contemplated donning my gear and trying to lure him into bow range. I have permission to hunt this woodlot, but decided against it in the end. If by some chance I did harvest him, I would end the mountain music for which I had a front row seat. No. I will not match wits with this one. Not today. For the next week, I may kick myself for not going after him, but by Saturday next, I will be ready to go back to the Baugh Hollow. More then…
April 6, 2019 ~ A change in my plans did not allow me to return to the Baugh Hollow in search of gobbling turkeys this weekend. Instead, I was able to begin work on a flintlock Poor Boy for a customer in Colorado. I’ll be out there at first light on April 13th, “God willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” as the Duke was fond of saying.