Talkin’ Turkey

TurkeysHunters in Arkansas love two things:

1) Hunting, and

2) Complaining about the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).

Hunters always think they have better solution to improving the game populations in the state than the people the governor appoints to the commission. After all, for all its egalitarian past, hunting is now a rather blue collar activity. Most of the bona fides of the game and fish commissioners boil down to the financial support provided to the governor in the last election.

That’s not to say the commissioners are not sportsmen or don’t know what they are talking about. However, most hunters know that the commission positions are given out as favors to political supporters. The commissioners got their position because they know Ray Thornton, not because they can call like Ray Eye. In a populist sport like hunting, that instantly puts the commissioners in an awkward position vis a vis the hunter.

Which brings us to the commission’s 4-to-3 vote last week to cancel this year’s fall turkey season. According to the AGFC biologist, only 522 turkey were taken during last fall’s turkey season. The commission said the cause of this low harvest was poor hatch numbers. So they shut down the season. No doubt some turkey hunters are complaining, but not many. Most turkey hunters don’t hunt the fall season. It just isn’t as popular as the spring season.

One reason is that you hunt turkeys differently in fall than in spring. Spring is the turkey mating season and you attract male turkeys by mimicking the calls of a female turkey. With fall hunting you have to find the turkeys without the benefit of libido. Turkeys are weary by nature and the only time a male turkey isn’t cautious is the spring time when he’s looking to score. Even then he’s mighty hard to kill.

The fall season is different in that you have to find the mostly silent birds and get close to them at a time when they aren’t throwing caution to the wind. Adding to the difficulty is that in the fall turkeys move in groups. Instead of one set of eyes looking for danger, fall turkey hunters must avoid being spotted numerous birds. Some hunters hunt fall turkey like deer by waiting in a tree stand or blind. In some areas hunters use dogs to find and bust up flocks and then calling them back to gather by imitating the noise turkey use to locate each other after they’ve been split up. There are even tales of people stalking turkeys by moving slow enough to not be detected by the sharp eyes of the birds.

In short, fall turkey season is a completely different hunting experience and it brings a different type of hunter. The methods used to hunt turkey in the fall are often more difficult and more specialized and are useless in the spring season. By outlawing the fall season, AGFC essentially outlawed unique forms of hunting that cannot be used in spring. There was only one opportunity for them to hunt with these techniques. This year, that opportunity is gone.

No doubt the AGFC was right in taking action to improve the turkey population. But it isn’t fair to the hunters whose only chance to hunt in the unique styles of the fall has been taken away because the season was closed. This attitude is especially dangerous in a day in age where many in society frown upon hunting. Today, all hunters are in the minority.

For once most hunters aren’t grumbling about a decision the commissioners made because it doesn’t involve them. But if they were smart they would be grumbling about this decision more than the decisions that impact the majority of hunters. There is strength in numbers and last week the strong were not the ones targeted. How unsporting.

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6 thoughts on “Talkin’ Turkey

  • This is an OK post, I guess. It would have been stronger if you had Photoshopped the head of a Game and Fish Commissioner on to one of the turkeys. Or maybe had one of the turkeys riding a unicorn. You’ve got a lot to learn about blogging, Cory.

  • Cory Allen Cox

    How about a turkey in a bikini? That’s what I wanted to do but couldn’t figure out how to do it. I should get an A for effort.

  • Elizabeth

    So I started reading this post, and wondered what in the heck David Kinkade was on when he decided he loved to go hunting. Glad to figure out that I was just lazy and didn’t realize Cory wrote it and David is his same ol’ snarky self.

  • Sanderson

    Are Dems just plain stupid, is this why we rank last in everything with their leadership… and the gifts just keep on coming for next years election.

  • grant

    What this post misses is the fact that the Commissioners are completely ignoring the advice of game and fish commission biologists. Politics led to the closing of the fall turkey season and not science. This is further evidenced by the fact that Commissioner Emon Mahony, who engineered the fall season closing, has proposed that the committes headed by commissioners draft hunting regulations indipendent of game and fish commission staff input. In conclusion, it is definitely not in the best interest of arkansas wildlife to ignore the biologists that the state pays to provide sound scientific advice. Closing the fall turkey season was without scientific basis and sets a dangerous precedent for future management of arkansas wildlife.

  • Grant, I can’t speak with you on the turkey season situation, as I don’t know much about the turkey hunting situation here, but I do agree with the ridiculous amounts of politics that surround the commission. That’s not to say it’s anything new. I believe that’s been going on since at least the 60s, if not earlier.

    The worst part about issues like this is that it’s so hard to do anything to nudge them or punish them for particularly bad actions, like enforcing draconian regulations statewide to solve local issues (like a statewide ban on Duck Hunting Guides on Wildlife Management Areas, when virtually all overcrowding issues were in the Stuttgart area). All you can really do is have their legislative appropriations committee send angry letters, apparently. Sure, the committee could threaten to cut their budget, but have fun getting them to do that.


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