Spring turkey hunt could become statewide by 1995

OUTDOORS

April 11, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

The spring turkey hunt kicks off Saturday and continues through May 15 in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Somerset, Queen Anne's, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

Ed Golden, who manages Maryland's wild turkey efforts, recently told me that we now have turkey populations in all counties and a statewide spring hunt should be a reality in 1995.

The Department of Natural Resources released turkeys in various locations throughout Carroll County a few years ago, and those birds, Regional Manager Marilyn Mause tells me, are doing very well.

Back in 1920, turkeys were so scarce in Maryland that the season was closed for 29 years. In 1949, a limited season opened in Western Maryland. Last year, Maryland had 12,000 wild turkeys, Golden said.

Those with aspirations of bagging a gobbler the first week or so of this April's hunt would be smart to put in scouting hours.

Get into your planned hunting area before dawn and listen for gobbles. Once you locate a good spot, go directly to the spot that you believe the gobbles originated from and pick out a place to set up a blind.

Try to find a place with a tree at your back and clear field of view and fire to your front. Then familiarize yourself with its location so that you can get back to the same spot in the pre-dawn on the day of the hunt.

Now is also the time to knock the dust off of your favorite call. Calling and success go hand-in-hand during the spring hunt.

The diaphragm call is a semicircular piece of leather with a small plastic diaphragm midway along the straight edge. You nest this call on the roof of your mouth and apply pressure with your tongue, creating an air lock. As you allow air to escape, the diaphragm vibrates, creating the yelp of a hen turkey. Once mastered, I think the diaphragm is the best of all calls because it leaves your hands free.

The striker call is popular but a little tricky to use. Sound is produced by drawing a chalked or rosined block of wood across a thin cedar lip. To get the proper series of yelps, you strike the lip smoothly, increasing and decreasing pressure as you draw the block across. It's easy, though, to shriek or squeak like chalk across a blackboard and thus scatter everything within hearing.

The box call is a form of strike call, but here the striker is hinged to a box so there is less room for error. It is also one of the few calls capable of making a sound like a tom turkey gobble. You get this by simply shaking the caller.

Only shotguns may be used with complete confidence on these big birds. I know lots of successful hunters who swear by a 3-inch 20-gauge load of No. 6 shot, but give me the added confidence of a 3-inch 12-gauge with an extra full choke throwing a heavy load of No. 5 buffered shot.

A turkey is a big bird with thick layers of feathers and heavy bones. Forget about body shots and birds that take to the air. The only shot you want to consider is the head/neck. For this you want the tightest 40-yard shot pattern you can coax from your shotgun. Experiment with different loads to

find the right one, but chances are that load will feature buffered, platted lead shot.

Fishing notes

Anthony Disantostefano, Rick Miller and Virgil Hughes are Carroll County residents that hit the jackpot while fishing in last .. Saturday's Early Bird Fishing tournament at Piney Run Park.

Miller of Hampstead took home $100 for his award-winning 14 1/2 -inch trout. Hughes, who lives in Westminster, claimed $200 for his 15-inch trout, but the big winner was Disantostefano, also of Westminster.

Disantostefano won $250 each for an 8 3/4 -inch bluegill and a half-pound 10 1/2 -inch yellow perch. Both were the largest checked in their respective classes.

They also point out the reason for this event's popularity -- an angler can walk away with the cash without lugging a record-sized fish home.

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