White bags 133rd gobbler

Local outdoorsman and long-time turkey hunter Ken White proudly displays his 133rd turkey of his turkey hunting career. White has been hunting wild turkeys since Missouri opened turkey season in 1960. To date, White has hunted a combined 99 spring and fall seasons and harvested over 2,500 pounds of turkeys since he began pursuing them almost 60 years ago.

Turkey hunting can be unpredictable; Earth Day is 49

When the 2019 spring turkey season opened Monday, April 15, many hunters reported hearing lots of gobbles just before sunrise, but then the big birds kept silent.

Bob Morgan, Springfield, who has hunted turkeys for more than 20 years, said, “Monday morning reminded me of a hunt several years ago when, days before the season opened, I heard toms gobbling all around my favorite hunting spot. However, on opening day there wasn't a gobble to be heard. I knew the birds were there so, once again, patience was the key word. I waited for about an hour and then I saw two big toms slipping towards my hen decoy without making a sound. The unpredictable part of hunting turkeys makes it both interesting and frustrating.”

Since there have been several springs where the weather has hurt the production of turkeys, the number of 2-year old birds is down, there may not be as much gobbling as usual in some areas of the state especially in the northeast section. However, hunters in the Ozarks report hearing as many or even more toms this month.
Time will tell just how good the season will be, but Missouri's reputation as a top turkey hunting state will remain.

On Monday of the season’s second week, I had a perfect hunt. After setting up in a spot where I had taken turkeys before, it wasn’t long before two hens walked across an open field in front of me. At 7 a.m. I heard my first gobble of the day. I gave a hen call and the tom answered, a good sign of things to come. A black dot appeared some 400 yards away in the open field. Checking it out showed it was a gobbler headed my way. As the tom started moving my way, a jake joined it and after about 15 minutes the pair stood about 30 yards in front, some 10 yards from my pair of hen decoys. I took aim at the big tom, fired and as he fell to the ground, the jake ran for cover.

The tom is now in our freezer awaiting Thanksgiving dinner, and with another few days to go, he may have company.

Other hunters I have talked to regarding the season reported seeing turkeys, but not as many gobbles as usual. After a good early youth hunt, area hunters were encouraged it could be another good season in spite of the reports the number of 2-year-old birds is down. The final season totals will tell just how good the 2019 spring season really was.

Meanwhile, Monday, April 22, marked the 49th anniversary of Earth Day with events across the country for all ages and interests.

When you ask, what can I do? the range is endless. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved while learning the many ways everyone can do to help improve the environment and the outdoor recreation we all enjoy.

Events ranged from a climate rally held in Washington, D.C., to planting a tree in backyards. At several schools, students wore organic cotton shirts for the day while stream clean-up was going in several places over the country.

Other projects and events in the fields of energy, recycling, water and green schools were part of Earth Day activities.

“There is something I have done for years, a good Earth Day project is recycling,” Paul Mayfield, Joplin, said. “There are too many garbage dumps, landfills and junk yards in the country that are filling up with things that might have been reused, recycled or composted.”

Bob Walker is another one who recycles. “Several years ago, on Earth Day, I started recycling anything I could,” Walker said. “My wife told me yesterday we have helped the earth by recycling toms of items which otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. She is right. This year I told a couple of my neighbors about starting recycling to celebrate Earth Day and they agreed that they would.”

There are many of the first computers that are rotting in scrap yards leaking toxic chemicals into the ground, Earth Day is a reminder that action must be taken to reduce the amount of waste we produce.

The Earth Day Network's National Green Schools Campaign aim is to green all of the countries K-12 schools within a generation.

A school becomes green through a variety of means. By having more sustainable, energy-efficient, low resource-using school buildings and school yards which saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and saves money.

On the anniversary of Earth Day, many events were going on throughout the country and as Mayfield said, “We all need to be ready to clean and green it up.”

White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.

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