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A View Through the Oaks

“Full Strut Tom”

Author’s Note: With New York State’s spring Turkey Hunting season just one month away, I thought I’d share a few turkey hunting viewpoints and experiences of my own.

Before Reading any further:


This is a turkey hunting piece, written from a hunter’s perspective.

“One Long Beard, One Jake, One Shared Hunt”


One lesson that I have learned through the years:

There is no point arguing a hunter’s viewpoint with anti-gun advocates, anti-hunters, vegans, self righteous vegetarian animal loving tree hugger kum-ba-ya hunter haters…so I won’t bother here. Well, Okay- maybe I will anyways.

I learned this lesson the hard way, through a series of heated 4 a.m. diner debates with a waitress in downtown Ithaca N.Y. I was in college, hunting on weekends with friends, Chuck, Fritz & Chuck. We stopped in Mano’s Diner for pre-dawn bacon, eggs, coffee and toast. We always had the same waitress. She was very anti-hunting.

That was our tradition for many years. Breakfast served with a healthy dose of anti-hunt lecture. I always found it ironic: The waitress who condemned us made her living off camo clad gun toting hunters and their tips.

A little diner waitress food for thought before I move on:

Hunter’s have hearty appetites and tend to tip pretty good!

“Hunter’s Surf & Turf”

Venison Hunter’s Stew, Fresh Bass Fillets, & Bacon Wrapped Wild Turkey Kabobs Fire Roasted In Camp”


“An Early Spring Flock”

Spring turkey hunting in New York State runs the entire month of May. Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise until noon. Bearded birds only, with a two bird bag limit. Both birds cannot be taken on the same day. Hunting over bait is illegal in NYS. Hunters must be licensed. My son and I both have NYS Lifetime Sportsman licenses. It’s a worthwhile investment. I highly recommend them.

There are shot size restrictions, plus a whole series of other regulatory requirements that I won’t go into here. Read the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation regulations(or the appropriate state regs). Know all the laws, and PRACTICE SHOOTING! before going afield to hunt.

“A Bearded Bird”

Note: Hen’s sometimes sport beards. They are legal game if they do.”


My son and I spend a lot of time, money and effort enhancing wildlife habitat on our 17 acre plot. Tens of thousands of hours and dollars spent, hand digging ponds, planting cover and food source (nut & berry) trees & shrubs, perennial clover food plots, not to mention dollars spent on licensing and supporting national wildlife management programs and endeavors.

I wonder how much time money and effort to supporting wildlife that hunter hating diner waitress puts in?

“Our Joint Tree Planting Project”


“A wood duck nesting box. We have 8 by our ponds.”


“A Canada Goose sneaking goslings through the woods to safe haven”

“We get pond nesters each spring”


Of course, with all of that time and money invested, we also have spend time to posting & patrolling our land. Not only to protect ourselves, but trespassers too!

I once had a woman and her daughter nonchalantly walk out by one of my ponds during spring turkey hunting season. They spotted a tree stand, ignored all the posted signs. The woman actually proceeded to climb up into one of my stands for a view!

“A Property Line Warning Sign”

“Posted” signs are good. We use trail cams too!

I watched in utter disbelief! I was positioned less than a hundred yards away, dressed in full camo, loaded ten-gauge shotgun, hidden in my turkey hunting blind. My son was on the other side of our lot. He was camo’d up, locked & loaded too.

I stepped out from my blind, full camo, shotgun in hand,and addressed the pair politely:

“Excuse me! Did you NOT see the signs? This land is POSTED! There are hunters with loaded guns out here hunting RIGHT NOW! You need to leave immediately!”

Her response: “Oh, it’s okay- We’re visiting your neighbor. We just wanted to check things out.”

I did finally manage to convince the woman and her daughter to leave. Then my neighbor and I had a good long talk.

Please take note!

If out walking unfamiliar terrain, you encounter “POSTED” signs, or see a tree stand or a ground blind. That’s a good time to LEAVE! There’s a good chance that there is a hunter hidden in brush nearby with a LOADED GUN! They may not even know you are there! I hate to say it…But you could accidentally get SHOT!

“My son & I after another successful hunt”


Not every bird caught on camera is a Turkey!

“I’m unarmed! Don’t shoot!”

(American Bittern, caught mid call)

A “Species of Special Concern” In NYS

We have developed breeding habitat for these birds & others on our ponds.


“Ruffed Grouse, Full Strut”

“Another species breeding ground enhancement effort on our lot.”


A Pair of Young “Jakes”

Gobble Gobble! On to the hunt!

I was out one day in my favorite ground blind. Two years ago, second day of the season. I had my trusty ten gauge and my best box call. The gobblers were HOT! This was going to be my day. I could feel it. I was ready, patiently awaiting my shot.

“Early Morning Hen”

Sure enough! About 7:00,a nice mature hen snuck down through the brush past my blind at about twenty yards. I caught her movement out of the corner of my eye.

I turned and oriented my self in that direction. Gun at the ready, I sat silently and waited.

About twenty minutes later, there he was! At first I just glimpsed the red white and blue head. Then he stepped out, following the path of the hen. A very nice long beard Tom!

“Mature Two Year Old Tom”

I put the bird in my sight line at twenty five yards, clicked off the safety, exhaled slowly….


I lifted my cheek from my shotgun, expecting to see a bird down. Instead I heard a startled: “PUTT PUTT!”

“Wait a minute! What?!”

I stepped out from my blind. That Tom Turkey was GONE!

“What the heck?!” I thought. I’ve NEVER missed with that ten gauge. I always put my bird down!

“Photo evidence from a more successful hunt.”

I walked over to where I expected to find my bird. Not a feather or drop of blood to be found. I was puzzled. I spent a minute or two looking around. I stepped back and studied the scene, replaying my shot in slow motion in my head.

I checked my gun, long range #2 shot lead turkey loads. I checked my choke tube. Nope, it wasn’t that; extra full, the right one. What in the world had gone wrong?

Then I spotted it. I suddenly knew what had happened. There, right at the point I had aimed for my turk, was my shot pattern, clearly embedded and outlined. I had bagged a big oak. That turkey must have stepped behind that tree at the instant I pulled the trigger. I was so focused on the turkey, I never even saw the tree! I wonder who was more surprised- the turkey, or me?

I was frustrated momentarily. Then I just shook my head and laughed, at myself. That Tom sure got the best of me that day!

That’s okay, on another hunt later that season in southern New York with my son & my friend Chuck, I bagged THIS trophy long beard:

(Thanks Chuck- AKA The “Philo Road Outlaw”- A True “PRO”)

“Me, My son RJ & our close friend & Hunting Guide Chuck”

(I know it ain’t a turkey hunting pic- but it’ll have to do for the moment!)

“My Trophy Mount”

(Taxidermy by Gregg R. lelfield: Tri- Ponds Taxidermy)

Ten and one half inch beard, inch and 3/4 spurs, twenty two pounds! Chuck took one look at the bird and INSISTED I get it mounted.

“You could hunt your whole life and never get another like it.”


Generally, though, when we have a successful hunt, we process our harvest, report it to the DEC as required, and it goes in the soup pot.

“Weighing and measuring a turkey harvest for DEC reporting”

“I always have lots of help!”

Plus a line always forms for an invite to dinner to taste my homemade wild turkey soup!


Lastly, when we, hunt, NOTHING goes to waste!

“A Feast Fit for an Eagle”

We always take the carcass out by one of our game cams.

The Circle Of Life

A Hunter’s View Through The Oaks


Until Our Trails Cross Again:

Live Each Day You Are In

Stay In the Hunt