By Teresa Patterson
Tossing turning, sleepless nights. I stand in the dark quietly, waiting, listening. Then it happens, what I have been waiting for and my heart skips a beat. The thunder of a turkey gobbling high in tree. The early morning sound of spring.
For many, spring means the end of winter with longer days and warmer weather. Growing up, my dad always had us kids in the outdoors all four seasons of the year. But for me spring always feels like rejuvenation. All of nature renews me. So many birds are now singing their songs, flowers are blooming, and brooks are flowing. The courtship rituals of the “kings of spring”, “gobblers” aka the wild turkey. Nature wakes up and I along with it have the urge to get outdoors.
For me the excitement begins as I slip on my turkey vest and slip in my favorite mouth call handmade by my friend Joanie Haidle. I feel alive and exhilarated. The vocalization of the turkeys. Watching them strut, chase each other, spit and drum. Turkey hunters know these things can set your soul on fire. Turkey hunting is challenging to say the least. But when it all works out, so rewarding.
Sierra Grice from Grice Gun Shop and I were talking and she too enjoys turkey hunting each spring. Sierra has been very successful in past years hunting with her dad.
“When you hear the turkeys gobbling at daylight, you know that spring has arrived”, said Sierra.
Whether you hunt or not, do yourself a favor and consider some other spring activities: Shed hunting, or morel mushroom hunting. I enjoy hiking and getting outside to shed hunt. Deer and elk shed their antlers every year, and then grow a completely new set during the summer. This shedding procedure takes two to three weeks to conclude, while the regeneration takes an entire summer to complete — before the cycle starts all over again. Bucks shed their antlers between January and April, depending upon many factors including the animal’s age and the latitude at which it lives, and after the mating season concludes. Gathering shed antlers or “sheds” attracts dedicated outdoor enthusiasts who refer to it colloquially as shed hunting. My two yellow labs, Drake and Buck are quite the shed hunters. The dogs love getting out in the off season of waterfowl hunting and they really up the odds when finding those dropped antlers. I find it a great way to scout and see what made it through the previous deer season and find potential new hunting spots. Not to mention I like using the sheds as decorations and the dogs love to chew on the smaller ones.
Morel Mushroom Hunting
Wild morel mushrooms are one of Mother Nature’s most scrumptious offerings. The best time to start looking for morels is after a good rain and when the daytime temperature reaches 60 degrees or higher. Morels will start popping from the ground. Morel hunting isn’t as easy as you may think. It can be as difficult as calling in a high pressure gobbler. And the diehard mushroom hunters never reveal their “mushroom spots”. They are as secretive about these spots as they would be a good deer hunting location.
When recently at Grice Gun Shop in Clearfield, PA I spoke to Terri Ann, age 27. Terri was purchasing some turkey load shells obviously for turkey hunting and a Thermacell for hunting and fishing. I asked what activities get her outside in the spring. “I love turkey hunting with the family. But one of my favorite things is to hunt morels and while hunting for morels usually find a shed or two. The morel hunting has almost become a competition with my family. My mother said the family has been doing this since she was a little girl”, said Terri. “We see who can come home with more and no one shares their mushroom locations”, she chuckles. “We usually get together on a weekend, cook the morels using different recipes. A tradition we do each year”. She added, “Then we go fishing. It is relaxing and for me I just love the fresh air after being indoors a lot during winter. Oh and the fish fries!”
Sierra Grice also hits the water in her kayak to fish. She said, “It’s so peaceful and relaxing. Not to mention good exercise. I love to float the river and fish. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and my boyfriend.” What else gets her outside? Sierra recently started bee keeping. Something new but is very excited to do. “This is my first year so I am hoping the bees do well and we will start getting the honey next year”, states Sierra.
Watch for Ticks
No matter what gets you outside there is one not so enjoyable facet of venturing out more. Ticks! Tick populations have exploded in Pennsylvania and so have the cases of Lyme disease. There’s no place in Pennsylvania without deer ticks. So do yourself a favor, use some type of tick repellant or protection so your adventures outside remain enjoyable. Tom Grice of Grice Gun Shop said that the store does sell a great deal of “Elimitick” clothing by Gamehide. Grice carries hats, gloves, socks, shirts, hooded long sleeves, and head masks. Elimitick clothing has built in tick repellant. In addition to those items Grice says they sell a large amount of Bioshield Tick products in spray, laundry detergent and even body wash. Spring is a time to revive yourself, physically and mentally. Try something new or enjoy a tradition passed on for Generations with family and friends.
Last year my dad was given a time frame by the doctors as he battled pancreatic cancer. I am so blessed to say that I was able to turkey hunt with dad last spring and film our extraordinary memory for the hunting show, Wired Outdoors. Although I have many wonderful memories with my dad in the outdoors, that by far was the best. Thankful I can forever relive that special spring day by watching the video of our hunt for years to come. Perhaps that just adds to the list of why spring means so much to me. Perhaps it’s that memory that rejuvenates me. It’s a spring thing.