Local turkey hunters reflect on success this year

Published 12:48 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — Natchez resident Byron Garrity has a saying about turkey hunting.

“They say all fisherman are liars, or all liars fish,” Garrity said. “The same is true for turkey hunters. No one will tell you what’s going on during the season, how many they took or how many they heard gobbling until the season’s over.”

But turkey season ended May 2 and the gobble gabbing has begun.

“This year, I took my limit of three, but I didn’t hear or see near as many gobblers as usual,” he said. “I just don’t think they were as vocal as they’ve been in years past.

“I saw several gobblers still in the tree at 8:30 in the morning, and that’s highly unusual. I think it has to do with the number of predators. I saw more coyotes and foxes when I was hunting than usual. They’re not going to gobble as much because they don’t want to call predators to them.”

Garrity also said hunters around the area thought hunting was more difficult this season due to it being colder for a longer stretch of time. However, he said he thinks something other than the temperature has a significant effect on a turkey’s activity.

“I think the atmospheric pressure has an effect on them. When it’s between 298.8 and 299.9, that’s when they tend to gobble more,” Garrity said.

“I don’t know why it’s that way, but I think it has something to do with their ability to sense pressure. They have a gland at the base of their skull, and I think that gland allows them to sense that change in pressure. That’s just a personal theory.”

And Garrity’s not the only turkey hunter who looks at atmospheric pressure. Natchez resident Danny Weeks said he also notices a difference in turkey activity depending on the atmosphere.

“When it’s overcast skies, they don’t seem to gobble as much,” Weeks said. “With a blue bird day and the sun shining, the birds will gobble their heads off, regardless of (the temperature).”

Even though it might have taken longer for some people this year, Weeks said most of his turkey hunting friends took their limit.

“Most people I’ve spoken to, people who turkey hunt a lot like I do, they said they were done taking three before the season was over,” Weeks said.

Even a local rookie took his limit this season. Blaine Lee picked up turkey hunting for the first time this season, and now there’s no going back, he said.

“My cousin Greg Cotten from Baton Rouge brought me opening day to the place we hunt in Meadville,” Lee said. “He called one from behind me, and it walked right by me to our decoy, strutting and gobbling, and I shot him.

Lee took his final two turkeys the final week of the season, when he took vacation time from work to dedicate the time to turkey hunting.

“From that first bird forward, I was up every morning at 3:30 leaving for the woods,” he said. “Next spring, I plan on using all my vacation days for turkey season.”

And he’ll have to live with the repercussions, he added.

“My fiancé was upset, because she wanted me to use some of those days so we could get married. I said, ‘Baby, we’re just going to have to work that out.’”