Do I Shoot Jakes?

(Please see Editor’s Note below for some important information) Absolutely not! Unless, of course, they happen to be the first one I see!

Six years previous to this one I killed a long beard on the first day of my hunt. This year the turkey population in my area had plummeted to where three hens and one gobbler were all that had showed up all spring. Therefore, I decide that I couldn’t afford to be too fussy.

Olden Days


In the early days of turkey hunting in Area K, the turkeys were dumb and the “hunters” were dumber. It wasn’t unusual to see them marching through the woods wearing red and black deer hunting duds, hoping to flush a gobbler and shoot him! Another favorite technique was to drive the back roads, stopping now and then to get out and shake a gobble box…..’clackity, clackity, clack.’ I’ve never been able to figure out what kind of bird makes such a noise. It sure isn’t a turkey! A trip to turkey farm would have enlightened them on what turkeys sound like.

A weird hunt

The good news was there had been no turkey hunters in my area. The bad news was there had been no turkeys either! That is for the previous ten days.

My expectations were low when I crawled into my tent blind at 5:30 A.M. on May 2nd. I had a folding chair set up with a boat cushion on it.

In the dark, I couldn’t see that the cushion was soaking wet! My old hunting partner, long deceased, used to say, ” A man’s not worth a damn with a wet ass!” I stuck it out until 9:00, without hearing a single gobble.

Tracks in the snow

Two gobblers and three hens! The first tracks of the winter, ending the suspense that some of “my” birds were surviving.

Historically, turkeys were only found in the most southern tier of counties in Michigan. Our northern flock is artificial. They need help to make it through a Michigan winter. We distribute corn, plus some individuals feed the birds on their own and, of course, they raid bird feeders intended for their small cousins.

Another short story

Last year, before my hunt started, I hadn’t heard a peep out of anything; then, on opening morning, gobblers were sounding off from all points of the compass and I collected one in just about one hour.

Now this year, on the afternoon before my season, at least three toms were gobbling, and this is a bit unusual for late in the day. These guys were lonesome and a lonesome tom is a vulnerable tom.

The next morning I was in the same tent blind as the previous year. There was some gobbling off the roost, but not a lot.