Wild turkeys decidedly are not ducks. They don't like getting wet.
Give them an unseasonably cool, drizzly day with puffs of wind and bands of moderate - make that immoderate - rain mixed in, and they become assuredly antisocial.
At least that was the picture from a couple of blinds down in Seneca County yesterday morning, the opening day of Ohio's month-long spring gobbler season.
Hope springs eternal of course, and early on hunting buddy Chuck Wolf of Tiffin and I were modestly encouraged that the overnight soaker from the sky had quit, reduced to mere shreds of mist and sprinkles at 6 a.m.
The robins were yapping plentifully and melodiously long before it grew gray in the east, so maybe it would be OK.
I was feeling the pressure. I was pinch-hitting for Roger Murray, Wolf's usual opener partner, who was off traveling. I was offered his magic blind, where each of the last two openers he killed a mighty nice longbeard by 8:30 a.m. So the knuckles were in my back to three-peat from the magic blind. Yeah, right.
At 8:20 a.m. yesterday, 10 minutes too soon, yours truly watched three birds suddenly flap off into the adjoining woods. They had been pecking around, preening and showing off - silently - 300 yards away down a long green of winter wheat since 7:40 a.m. But they had refused to drift to my calls and decoy. Something had spooked them - I had heard a dull "crack!" down that way just prior to their abrupt leave-taking. They didn't come back.
Come 8:45 a.m., the mist turned snotty - as in steady rain, enough to cause self to scurry down into a ravine, out of sight, and don the Gore-Tex. The rain tapered off in 45 minutes or so, but the turkeys mostly continued their morning-long silence. Only one muffled gobble, way off east. No way.
At 10:45 a.m., another band of rain came rolling up from the south, and this time it meant business. Two little creeklets presently poured off branches of the red oak I was blinded beneath. Water spattered steadily on my knees. Come 11:10 a.m., I spied Wolf slowly making his way through the woods from across a deep ravine. Water was flowing down in the ravine bottom, which had been dry at
6:30 a.m. 'Nuff. Quitting time is noon anyway.
Wolf had seen six or seven birds, including a couple of hens fighting within spitting distance of his blind. Wrong kind. This season is for bearded wild turkeys. Fortunately, it runs through May 17.
My opening-day pinch-hitting at the magic blind was a whiff. But plenty of time remains to swing for the fence.
Overall, Ohio hunters harvested a preliminary total of 1,712 bearded wild turkeys yesterday as steady rain over most of the state suppressed the bag by some 39 percent compared to 2,768 turkeys last year, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said. Top counties in the bag included Ashtabula 85; Guernsey 74; Knox 64; Clermont 59; Harrison 58; Jackson 43; Columbiana and Highland 41 each; Defiance 40, and Washington 39.
In related news, young hunters killed 1,814 gobblers statewide during a special youth-only hunt for ages 17 and younger over the weekend. Top bags came from these counties: Ashtabula 66; Coshocton 61; Harrison 60; Richland 57; Ashland 55; Highland 54; Trumbull and Tuscarawas 53 each; and Monroe and Washington 52 each. Last year, 1,838 birds were taken over the same two-day period.
North Cape Yacht Club's Sailing School is bringing the U.S. Sailing-sanctioned "Safety at Sea" seminar to One Seagate Centre on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The seminar schedule includes rescue demonstrations by a coast guard helicopter and a crewed boat rescue, as well as single-handed man-overboard rescues, all on the Maumee River. Various visual distress flares also will be demonstrated and compared.
Speakers include John Rousmaniere, who has logged over 35,000 miles sailing long passages, cruises, and ocean races and is author of Annapolis Book of Seamanship, a standard sailing manual for 25 years. He will discuss the latest developments in crew overboard prevention and recovery, heavy weather sailing, life on board during long passages, and disaster avoidance.
He will be assisted by former Commodore Naval Academy Sailing Squadron Capt. John Bonds, USN (Ret.) a past chairman of U.S. Sailing. Captain Bonds will cover water survival and flotation, boat and crew prep for offshore boating, abandon ship procedures, calling for help, damage control and repair, and giving and receiving aid.
Dr. Rob Amsler, an avid sailor with a family practice in Clinton Township, Michigan, will discuss how to prepare a medical kit and offer medical assistance in the event of an on-board injury. Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the NWS station in White Lake Township, will provide an update on the latest weather service resources for boaters.
Freighter Captain George Haynes will describe the view from the bridge of ocean and lake going commercial freighters and discusses how to share the waterways and commercial right of ways when boating near big ships.
The seminar is open to the public and registration is available at the door. Visit on-line at ncyc.net for additional registration and seminar fees, brochure downloads, and seminar agenda. Also, email SAS2009@buckeye-express.com, or call Charlie Antal (419) 381-6852, or Susan Huelsberg (734) 429-4194. Toledo is one of only five seminar locations around the country this year.