Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Spring Has Sprung

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Spring Has Sprung

Article excerpt

Each year about this time, outdoors men and women wake up from a long winter's nap. Cabin fever has been replaced with budding trees, flowers and green grass and the urge to get outside. Winter is a long, dormant period that's hard to tolerate, but many do knowing gorgeous spring days and ample outdoor opportunities are literally happening now.

Outdoor enthusiasts have their own barometers for the official arrival of spring. Many conclude that blooming redbuds and dogwoods signal the official arrival. To others, dandelions are unfriendly reminders that the calendar is once again headed in a positive direction. While these are all good indicators, I've got my own list and when these three things start happening it's officially spring in my book.

Turkey season

There's nothing that signals spring more to me than the incessant gobble of a big tom turkey. It seems they enjoy spring more than anyone and many gobblers have been in full strut every time they hit the ground each morning for a month. I suppose if love came only one time each year I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity, either.

The spring turkey season is memorable for a lot of reasons but many relate to the new growth and promise of another year outdoors. The youth season kicks off early in April and the regular season starts a couple weeks later. There have already been lots of good reports from turkey hunters of all ages and success has come quickly for some, not so much for others. The good news is the season runs until the end of May so there's plenty of time to fill at least one, or both turkey tags if you've got the interest.

Personally, I've watched a handful of turkeys get harvested by youth hunters. These hunts, where I was merely an observer providing a little guidance, are likely more memorable than any I'll make hunting on my own this spring. I enjoy seeing the excitement on a young hunter's face when they are successful and realize the rewards of a well-planned or fortunate hunt.

The highlight of my season, even if I were to kill my biggest bird ever, was watching an 11-year-old boy kill a beautiful bearded hen about 5 minutes after we sneaked into our blind one afternoon. It was his first turkey hunt -- and turkey -- and just over an hour later he followed it up with a nice, big tom that came to our calls and a few hens that were milling about nearby. He borrowed my cellphone and made three calls on the way home to share the thrill of the hunt with his mother, grandmother and even the neighbor lady who lived across the street from him promising to share his bounty since "he had so much turkey meat now."

Crappie spawn

Crappie are a tasty fish and popular with many anglers year- round. However, despite the big catches of winter-time crappie by a small group of anglers, the crappie spawn sees thousands more anglers hitting the banks. …

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