Pennsylvania Game News - March 2012 - 64
T WAS ONE of those March evenings when a certain slant of warm sunlight makes you believe that winter really is coming to an end. My young companion and I entered the woods with a clear goal: to experience the timeless mating urges of a turkey gobbler, a woodcock and spring peepers, all in the same evening. Within a row of border oaks we nestled into the rounded crook at the base of one of the larger trees. I coaxed a series of yelps from my wormy chestnut box call. In the calm evening air, the sound seemed to carry forever. Far to our right a turkey gobbled. Matt hadn’t heard the bird and thought I was joking. We waited. A thunderous gobble, this time much closer, made him a believer. The turkey had already moved several hundred yards. I had not intended to call in the bird but he was making his own rules. And then I saw movement. About 60 yards out I could see the gobbler, his long, thick beard swaying with every step. I whispered to let Matt know where the gobbler was but his view was obstructed. Abruptly the bird veered away. I was tempted to call again so Matt could get a peek at him but figured we’d already met our objective. My beaming partner agreed, so we silently withdrew into an overgrown pasture behind us. As soon as we stepped into the field I heard the nasal peent of a woodcock. “Matt, over there,” I pointed, “a woodcock. Did you hear him?” He nodded and we made a beeline toward the sound. Suddenly, an explosion of whistling wings rocketed past us. We stopped and with my finger I traced the flight of the odd-looking bird against the pumpkin-orange horizon. “Watch closely and don’t take your eyes off him,” I instructed. The bird began its wide, spiraling ascent, emitting a musical twitter. As if on a dance floor, we slowly turned ’round and ’round trying to follow his upward flight. Then, just as we were about to lose site of the performer, he tumbled erratically from the sky, warbling and chirping all the way down. Over the next half hour we watched one sky dance after the other. When darkness finally gained full purchase, we headed to our last venue — spring peepers. By this time I was feeling pretty smug and knew we’d complete our mission. With only a cuticle of moon and the faint flicker of stars to light our way, we weaved through the thicket toward a shallow pond. Guided by the din of innumerable spring peepers, there was no way to stray off course. With small, measured steps, we waded ankle-deep into the shallowest portion of the pond. Earlier I had told Matt that the peepers would stop singing when we invaded their sanctuary. Oddly, their incessant clamor persisted. We hunkered close to the water, enveloped in a rapture of courting song. We lingered for the longest time but eventually slipped away from the pond and back to the logging trail where our venture began. We accomplished what we had set out to do. The woodcock and peepers were easy; the gobbler was icing on the cake. Our triple play had been fulfilled.