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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Prepare Now For Stubborn Gobblers

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA, March 15, 2008.)
Even a king-size keister that rivals the size
of a hot air balloon isn’t as padded as it looks.
As I write this, it’s a little more than six short weeks until many Pennsylvania turkey hunters will be sitting, backs against trees, with a rock or root punishing their bottom sides. They’ll be wondering how long they can outlast a stubborn gobbler. It’s time to make a few decisions that will add to your stamina.

My worst case scenario was a couple of years ago. I had been working a mega-gobbler for almost 4½ hours when I chose a moment to adjust my position. Little did I know that the pigheaded gobbler was within shotgun range, screened by a patch of brush. He chose that exact moment to fly off the mountainside, and I never heard from him again.

All I was left with was the question of whether my backside would recover. My derriere hadn’t been punished that badly since Mr. Scordo gave me a whack in gym class way back in eighth grade.

It’s a wonder I didn’t get a bedsore from the ordeal. What I got was a lesson in failure. I didn’t pass the test of wills. In the four-plus hours I danced with that turkey, I could have walked home, watched Costner’s marathon movie “Dances With Wolves,” and waltzed back to continue the battle.

If you hunt turkeys enough, sooner or later you’ll have an experience like that. Hours will go by. You’ll long for the comfort of your easy chair. Now is the time to think of the things that will put you in a position to win the test of wills with a wily longbeard.

Probably the first place you’ll wish for relief is your bum, butt, or whatever you call that large muscle mass you sit on. Even a king-size keister that rivals the size of a hot air balloon isn’t as padded as it looks, and it’s likely to go numb after an hour or so. You can get a foam pad to sit on, or even a turkey vest with a drop-down seat. But these are almost nothing compared to a hunter’s seat.

BuckWing Products from Allentown, Pennsylvania makes one that will definitely keep you on your nether parts longer, and one day it will be the difference between carrying a gobbler home or not. It has folding legs that adjust to uneven terrain, keeping you above the rocks and roots, and making it easier to find a place to sit. It also keeps you off the ground, and therefore dry. And it keeps the seat of your pants from collecting dirt and depositing it on the seat of your truck.

Besides your basement, another place that can get rubbed raw is the roof of your mouth if you use a diaphragm call. Quaker Boy has solved that problem with its new “Foam Fit” series of calls. Instead of ordinary tape, these calls have a softer cushioned tape that seals against the roof of your mouth and prevents your palate from chafing.

Not many turkey hunters use a shooting stick, thinking they’re just for varmint hunters. But varmint hunters never hold the gun up for hours at a time. The right shooting sticks will do the job here, and some are inexpensive.

I’m a minimalist who tends to shun carrying extra baggage. I’m afraid I’ll leave something behind when I head to the next spot, make a tactical move on a bird, or carry a gobbler out of the woods. Too many times I have left behind decoys, box calls, and padded seats – and found things other hunters have left behind. That’s proof enough that traveling lightly has its advantages. But carrying certain comforts with you has its advantages, too.

Now is the time to consider what minor comforts will add to your stamina, and increase your odds of bagging the most obstinate gobbler. Hunting pressured gobblers requires certain sacrifices. If carrying an extra piece of equipment or two means carrying home a trophy gobbler, the sacrifice is worth it.


Anonymous Jim Lavrakas said...

This year's Ship Creek Slam'n Salm'n King Derby will feature a new award: The Andy Sorensen Sportsmanship Award. It's a fitting way to remember the friendly guy who would ALWAYS take time out of his fishing (even when the fishing was red hot) to help another angler, or just greet someone new on the creek. The award will go to an angler who shows “a practice of ethical fishing or helpful, selfless conduct towards fellow anglers”. During the derby, the person who most exemplifies Andy’s friendly, helpful spirit will win the trophy and $250 that comes with the award.

5:26 PM


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