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OUTDOORS: Magic season is approaching

By Glynn Harris

Late last Friday, I watched sleet bounce off the hood of my car as I drove home from town. Next morning, I had to use the defroster to clear ice from an overnight freezing drizzle from my windshield. The bridge over I-20 was icy. Some folks reported seeing snow flakes.

I didn’t see any snow but I did find some daffodils incased in ice growing beside the road. I saw flowering quince and forsythia blooming red and golden. These determined blossoms are heralding a special magical time of year that will be here before we know it.

While I am enjoying the crimson and gold, they give me a tingle as I anticipate what awaits a few weeks ahead. 

For sure, we’ll have more cold weather and likely another chance or two at icy precipitation since we have basically missed it so far this winter. However, you know and I know that we’re going to be seeing new green showing up on lawns and the tips of tree branches in the coming weeks. There’s no way to hold it back; spring is coming.

This time of year is so special. I can already feel the pulse on my fishing rod when the cork disappears as a bluegill inhales the cricket I offer. I anticipate the thud when a bass interrupts the twitch of the soft plastic worm I present and explodes in a deep swirl as it heads for deeper water.

As exciting as is the fun of fishing in spring, something else calls me from my warm bed before dawn on a chilly spring morning. I’ll jump in my truck and head for that special spot where I have already found tell-tale sign that I’m in turkey woods.

Easing my truck to a silent halt, I’ll slip out and walk to the top of a knoll in the darkness to find a log where I can sit and become part of the process of observing night slowly turn into the gathering light of morning.

The first sound I’ll hear is the sweet and gentle trill of a cardinal greeting the morning from the nearby thicket. His song puts me on higher alert because I know what I’m likely to hear next. 

Over the knoll lies a swamp and I have to wait only a few moments for the “WHO WHO WHO…WHO COOKS FOR YOU” morning wake-up of a barred owl.

Then I hear a sound that is the real reason I’m out of bed so early to sit in the dark on a log on a hill in the woods. To the untrained ear, it sounds like a handful of nuts and bolts rattling around in a galvanized bucket….”GGGOOOOOBBBLLLEEE”. 

To this turkey hunter, the sound is as sweet as hearing Chet Atkins thumb-pick “Mister Sandman”.

A gobbler awakens and begins shifting around on a branch high in a big pine at the edge of the swamp….”GGGOOOOOOBBBLLLEEE”…there it is again.

By the time the sun washes the last of darkness from the woods, I’m back in my truck headed home. Turkey season does not open for a few more weeks but no matter; I had heard what I came to hear and I know where I’ll be on opening morning.

I got into the thrill late in life of hunting gobblers on spring mornings but it totally captivated what I love to do once the dogwoods begin whitewashing the woods and purple martins twitter in the sky overhead. There’s nothing in the world of the outdoors that gets me excited like sitting at daylight against the base of a big oak and hearing a gobbler greet the world with his rattling call from his roost 100 yards away and knowing that I have a chance, albeit a small one, of fooling him with the gentle clucks and purrs of my turkey calls.

If it works out like it occasionally does, he’ll sail down from his roost and I’ll see a white head sitting atop a mound of fluffed out feathers as he struts to my gun.

Season opens this year on April 6 and the bluegills and bass will just have to wait. I’ll be there at dawn waiting for the gobbler games to begin.