April 15 was the opening day for the 2011 Spring Turkey Season in Oregon. We had checked the weather forecast and while it didn’t promise great conditions it also didn’t predict a monsoon either.
We loaded the camper and the 4 wheelers and headed over to the Umatilla National Forest just east of the tiny town of Monument. I had called and visited with a Biologist from the local Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife office about specific areas to hunt. We arrived the day before season opening and spent the time getting familiar with the lay of the land. It appeared to be ideal habitat for turkeys.
Next morning we were out early and within minutes had three different tom’s answering our calls. We spent the entire morning talking with what we think were five different birds. While the tom’s were very responsive we were never able to call one to within sight let alone shooting distance. The sky had presented a threatening aspect all morning and at noon the heavens opened and a cold drenching rain commenced that was to continue until after sunset. We were pretty pumped with the limited success we had enjoyed in the A.M. and eagerly awaited for dawn to try again. Had we not experienced the numerous responses of the previous day we would have been convinced that no turkeys existed in the area as we were unable to elicit a single gobble all during the second morning. Again at noon the heavens opened and repeated the same act as the previous day. Living in central Oregon over the last few years has caused me to become rain averse. Now days we duck for cover if it is anything more that a brief, light sprinkle. Thus, hunting for the day was once again terminated.
I’ve had little experience with turkeys so don’t know if the weather was responsible for the birds going silent or if some other factor was at play. It seems unlikely that we had disturbed the birds during the first day and no other hunters were in the area. So I’m at a loss as to an intelligent guess why we were greeted by silence on day two.
It is not the first time that rain has sent us packing ahead of schedule. Very few nooks and crannies of Oregon remain unexplored by us. Previous to this trip we had never been to Monument or through the eastern most portion of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The scenery is truly spectacular and very unusual. So while we returned home empty handed we sure enjoyed the drive out and back, rain and all.
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