By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
I don't know how they do it, but gobblers across the land have some mysterious way of communicating their behavior plans. And there must be stiff penalties for deviating from the plan. I have talked with hunters from South Carolina to Arkansas and a pot full of locals and the news is the same – the birds are not gobbling normally. What gobbles we get are few and listless and if they gobble one day they are quiet as church mice the next. And they rarely gobble until sunrise and a gobble after 7:30 a.m. is headline news.
Last year they agreed to gobble themselves into a season-long frenzy, seemingly from every tree with a limb on it. They started in the dark, shouted down the whippoorwills and ran all the crows into hiding. They strutted forth and sacrificed themselves for the cause of thinning their ranks to attain healthy flock numbers.
This season toms have voted to find any excuse imaginable to stay silent on fine spring mornings. Here are some examples of their excuses for not gobbling. If a light fog moves into five percent of the area at daylight, it signals a day of silence. If the weather forecast is for late June rain, it is a non-gobble day. If winds of 25 miles an hour or less, are predicted, no gobbles must be sounded. If the temperature is expected to be greater than 105 degrees or less than five degrees it's okay to gobble. Otherwise it's zipped beaks.
If a gobbler finds himself facing either left or right on his roost limb, that signals silence for that day. However if another position ensues, a reconsideration is in order. If during the night an airplane flies over, a shooting star is seen or if the moon rises in the east there shall be no gobbling come daylight.
If a hunter's truck is heard entering the county before sunrise or at any other time, gobbling is strictly prohibited. If a deer is heard tripping along in the leaves during the night, gobbling for the next three days is strictly prohibited. If after flydown a hen makes suggestive overtures to a gobbler, he must refrain from gobbling for the remainder of turkey season. For clarification, hens that make inquiring clucks, yelps or purrs must never be answered with a gobble or any form of courting language. All pitching of woo must be done in strict silence with no exclamatory gobble to precede, coincide with or follow such interludes.
I can personally attest to each of these prohibitions at work this season during my twenty-something days and nights in the woods exercising a frantic form of mental telepathy which required long periods of complete silence on site. Other hunters have surely observed other 2013 gobbling rules at work.
We hunters must rise up against conspiratorial communications among spring gobblers that fiendishly threaten our sport and the supporting industry. We could start by criminalizing its movement across state lines.