Slow going on the hunt for turkey, trout

Hunters clad in camouflage took to the woods early Wednesday morning for opening day of the annual spring turkey season, which remains open until the end of the month of May.

The bag limit for the season is just two birds, which provides an indication of the difficulty involved in the hunt. Unlike deer season, turkey hunters must be out of the woods by noon, although most tend to exit much earlier.

Wild turkeys, which have only become established throughout the North Country in the past 25 years or so, currently provide hunters with a truly challenging opportunity to test their skills. The pursuit is an interactive game that requires a hunter to call the birds into shooting range, which is limited to about 25 yards since only shotguns are permitted.

The activity provides an opportunity for humans to communicate with their prey and to deceive the birds with calls as well as decoys.

It is a hunting technique that has roots from mankind’s earliest days as hunter-gatherers. There are pictographs of turkey hunters that were scribed thousands of years ago on the sandstone walls of Canyon de Chelly in the Four Corners region of northern Arizona.

It is a very challenging activity, especially since turkeys are naturally very wary, and they have incredible eyesight. If humans had comparable vision, they could read a newspaper from the distance of nearly a football field away.

This amazing vision allows the birds to pick up even the subtlest movements, which are often difficult for hunters to avoid. It is truly a challenge, as the hunters must enter the woods in the darkness of early morning to take up a position, with the intention of calling birds into shooting range.

With the first indication of a bird’s direction, the hunter raises the shotgun and points it in the direction of the sound. In the process, they must remain silent and still, which can be frustratingly difficult, especially in the early morning chill. Typically, hunters will team up with one caller and one shooter.

A rush of adrenalin that arrives when the first bird responds to a call often compounds their efforts. The adrenalin rush continues to increase as the bird begins to draw nearer to the hunter’s blind. Breathing becomes deeper, and the heart begins to pound as the hunters strive to overcome the urge to fidget. The cold morning air serves to amplify nervous shakes and the adrenalin shivers make it impossible to sit still.

One slip or a false move as minor as the blink of an eye can scare a bird off. It is a game of cat and mouse that is played out over and over in the cool, early morning Adirondack air.

Trout talk

According to most reports on the trout scene, there is really very little to report. Anglers are taking a fair share of stocked rainbows on the Saranac River, as well as some browns and rainbows on the AuSable.

I’ve spent days checking the beaver dams and the smaller streams with limited success. It appears, as always, that the trout don’t come out until the blackflies do, at least on the streams.

The ponds have yet to turn on and reports of brook trout success have been rather limited. The waters are still very cold, and anglers are not finding much brook trout action while using the traditional wabbler/worm trolling technique.

With a few warm days in the forecast, and the potential for a bit of rain, the ponds could turn on. However, this spring has been cooler than expected, and it may take a while before the fish become active.

Currently, the best action appears to come from anglers who are fishing deep, in and around structures such as downed trees and logs with leech imitation jigs or worms. The warmest waters are likely to be found near the southeast ends of the ponds and near the tributaries.

I have heard a few reports of anglers taking a few landlocked salmon and browns on Lake Clear, but there has been very little news about any lake trout taken as of yet.

The smelt have begun to run in most of their traditional flows, but the runs have not been producing much action.

Traditionally, anglers take some of the biggest lake trout of the season in the first few weeks after ice-out, and I expect they will again. As always, the mad rush to the waters has satisfied the anglers’ need to wet a line, but their offerings have failed to satisfy the fish.

I expect Mother’s Day weekend will continue to be the target date, and until that time most other efforts will be more suited to spring training than spring fishing.