21 days of spring turkey season offer hunting, a whole lot


Mar 11, 2001
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April 19, 2002

Charlie Farmer, Springfield News Leader Outdoors columnist

21 days of spring turkey season offer hunting, a whole lot more

Within the 21 days of spring turkey season there are some of the finest outdoor adventures in the Ozarks.

For a lot of turkey hunters, anglers, campers, paddlers and hikers these days are the cream of the crop.

The beauty of greenup has a lot to do with this splendid niche of April and early May, including May apples sprouting in April. For turkey hunter and crappie angler a familiar piece of woodland beauty even though deceptive. All parts of this plant are considered poisonous except the ripe fruits.

Better yet, a batch of morel mushrooms. Where the turkeys roam, so too the treasure of morels are close by. More than one turkey hunter has told me that when kneeling down picking a cache of mushrooms the thunderous gobble of a lonesome tom shattered the silence of the forest. Turkeys and morels go hand in hand.

It is during these 21 days that most hunters, anglers and hikers savor living in the woods in tents. For the turkey hunters, living in turkey habitat gives them an edge. They hear more gobbling and are more attuned to the sounds of the woods. Those hunters tend to walk and talk softly. They see more game.

There are few hunters who can take 21 days in this magical time. Most of us take three or four days with family and friends. Deer hunters have their special camps in November. Turkey hunters have theirs in spring. Both have the reputation of being sacred places.

There are some turkey hunters who roost turkeys late in the afternoon when the birds fly up to roost on limbs. Hunters who live in cozy tents for two or three days usually employ roosting because they don’t have to drive 50 or more miles back home in the dark. Roosting turkeys is a tactic that works much of the time.

The hunter quietly marks the area where the birds are roosted. The next morning, the same hunter or hunters can slip into the roosting area and know they have a good chance to call in a tom. Soft yelps and clucks work remarkably.

There are combination turkey hunters and anglers who work both in the 21-day span. They hunt turkeys from daylight to the 1 p.m. daily closing. They hunt their birds near impoundments like Stockton, Truman, Pomme, Table Rock and Bull Shoals. This gives them an option to fish from a cabin or a tent. Some rent fishing boats. Others trail their own boats.

If this isn’t heaven, I don’t know what is. After the turkey hunt there is lunch and an hour or so siesta. Then it’s time to fish. There is no better fishing in the Ozarks than April and early May. You have your pick of species. Good to excellent in April, even in afternoon angling for black bass, crappie, white bass and walleye at Stockton and Bull Shoals.

At camp, fresh fish and morels for supper. Tales of gobblers, bass, crappie and walleye. A full day, yes! The hunters fan out to find turkeys heading for their roosts before darkness sets in. Later, the campfire is glowing. The hunter-anglers are content with well-oiled jokes. They walked miles that day. Fresh air. The best of exercise.

The fire dims. The jokes peter out. All is silent until the barred owl speaks. “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” In this camp they hoot with their vocal cords. The real owl answers. The hunters hear the swish of wings as the first owl lands on a limb overlooking camp. Other owls want in on the chorus. Soon there is a symphony of owls. Hunters sit still in the night. The owls were duped five minutes or so. Then they swish away.

This group of hunters also brings bow and fish arrows to camp. You would swear they were prehistoric hunters. But they have a reason for the bow.

When there is a lull in the turkey hunting and the fishing, they sometimes shoot spawning carp which they keep on ice and save for preparing in a pressure cooker at home.

The carp are found in the murky backwaters of the lakes they hunt and fish. When the water is up in the lake, it is not at all out of reach to shoot 100 carp or more in two hours.

The grand beauty of spring flies by quickly. For turkey hunters, anglers, hikers and campers this is the time to see forest, stream and lake beauty. Escape the city and head to the wilderness. Watch the budding splendor of red buds and dogwoods. Hike the forest trails. For those of you who do not hunt, be safe by wearing a cap of blaze orange.

The 21 days of April and early May are the best of the best.

Bald Eagle

Dec 8, 2001
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I'm heading out tomorrow morning.  Monday is opening day here.  I'm pumped!!!!!!


Jan 26, 2002
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I'll be right behind you, Bald Eagle. I'm going to shovel out the truck tomorrow, load it down with turkey gear and head out Sunday. I waited a whole year for this. Good luck to you and yours.

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