As I write this, Ontario’s wild turkey season is less than 20 days away. This means that turkey hunters and non-turkey hunters will have at least one thing in common – both groups will be seeing wild turkeys, in great numbers, everywhere they look. In fact, for both groups, it will appear as if the landscape is overrun with wild turkeys. Heck, I saw at least 35 birds on the weekend hanging around the parking lot of our local automotive garage, which is odd because I know for a fact none of them drive.
If nothing else, this appearance of abundance is ample proof that wild turkeys are even smarter than we previously thought. For this simple act of making themselves seen everywhere means that turkey hunters will think this season is going to be a cakewalk, while those who don’t hunt turkeys are left with the impression that putting your tag around a turkey’s leg is easy.
Both impressions are meant to do harm to hunters.
That’s because every hunter will have their confidence bolstered by excessive turkey sightings. This means they might be tricked into saying something stupid in public like, “This year I’ll probably fill both of my wild turkey tags quickly so I can spend the rest of my spring fishing or hunting for bears….”
Non-hunters will think this is entirely plausible based on how close and common wild turkeys are of late, too.
Make no mistake. We are all being played by those turkeys.
You see, they will carry on with this ruse until the day before turkey season, at which time they will suddenly disappear from the huntable landscape. Oh sure, they’ll continue to show up in parks, schoolyards and downtown backyards. Heck, they might even stop traffic on our busier roads. This is all just part of their crafty plan to push the narrative that knocking over a wild turkey is ridiculously easy and anyone who can’t do it is a dolt.
But, as I said, things will be quite different on the huntable landscape.
There you will hear only the distant calls of gobblers sounding off proudly from public parks, schoolyards, in-town backyards and local automotive repair establishments. Heck, you might even hear motorists honking horns and cursing at them from our busier roads.
In the places where they are supposed to be, however, they will be scarce, spooked, and much harder to tag.
As a result, when hunters come home empty-handed, their non-hunting neighbours and townsfolk will say thinks like, “How can you not get a wild turkey? Those dumb birds are everywhere!”
Sure, you could patiently explain that there are no birds to be found in the area where you saw dozens before the hunting season started, but who would believe you?
No one. That’s who.
Or you could say that wild turkeys are much smarter than people give them credit for. But then you would have to explain why they routinely peck at their own reflections.
This is precisely the kind of trouble wild turkeys hope to provoke this time of year, something I refer to as the Great Turkey Tease.
Essentially, its how they get inside our heads, cause us to lose patience and make rookie mistakes like yelling “Finally!” before we shoot, which gives them plenty of warning to duck.
The only way for a hunter to counteract this devious plan is to understand that the number of turkeys seen in and around town is not based in any sort of reality you will encounter while hunting.
Unless, of course, you set up in the parking lot of the local automotive garage.