Thursday, October 16, 2008

Turkey season: Part I, Northern Tier

Stan Oulette of Deer Creek shows off his turkey

With the salmonids running, walleyes, bass and northerns on the bite, deer season just around the corner, and turkey season in the northern part of the county open, I don’t have much time to go tramping around in the wilderness trying to get a gobbler. So when motel operator and professional guide Stanley Oulette invited me to hunt with him on Deer Creek Motel property, across NY 3 from Deer Creek Wildlife Management Area, I couldn't pass up the offer.

Stanley started a turkey dialogue right when we sat down in the woods. He scraped the slate call a couple times; followed up with a few calls from the diaphragm in his mouth, and answered both with a box call.

About 15 minutes later, a doe came out of the woods and walked past us less than 50 yards away. Ten minutes later, two bucks, four and six points respectively, came out of the same spot. They sniffed cautiously around our decoys, less than 50 feet away from us, before deciding the doe was more exciting and heading off in her direction.

Just as I was putting my camera away, Stanley whispered "Here comes a turkey, moving fast."

By the time I shouldered the gun she was directly in front of me, right in my sights. I fired.

A young hen, she weighed about 10 lbs. She wasn't the best turkey in flock, but she was a good turkey. What she lacked in size, she compensated for with a beard. Only about three percent of hens sport whiskers so I felt like I got a bonus.

After all that racket, we decided to hit another spot. On the way, Stanley asked if I'd like to see his pet Ruffed Grouse. I thought he was kidding. An outfitter having a pet grouse, one of the tastiest birds on the planet. Unbelievable???!!!

Entering a thick, young forest, Stanley called "Come' ere Pete. Where are ya Pete."

Nothing happened. So we left.

We hunted turkey a few hundred yards deeper in the woods. Stan did some calling. No replies.

We sat there for about a half hour and decided to move again.

As we neared the spot where Stan called Pete, a ruffed grouse emerged from under the brush and started circling us. "Here's Pete," Stan proclaimed proudly.

He went over and started talking to the bird. Tickled to see him it kept circling and jumping around, all within Stan's reach.

I always knew he was a good fisherman. Now I know he has an even greater connection with the woods.

Fortunately, I have photos to prove to myself the events of that morning really happened.

Deer Creek Wildlife Management Area and the neighboring lands boast some of the most productive game habitat in Oswego County. The WMA's marsh loads up with waterfowl; its lowlands teem with deer; and its openings support ruffed grouse, pheasant and turkey.

The easiest way to get there is to head north on NY 3 from its intersection with NY 13 for 1.8 miles to the public access site at the bridge crossing the creek. Other easy access sites are the dirt road 0.1 mile north of the bridge and the next road 0.3 mile further north.

This is Pete, Stan's pet Ruffed Grouse

Stan standing next to Pete

This photo is dark, but it shows the two small bucks next to the turkey decoys.

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