Equipped with a truckload of gear and a plan to (finally) spend an afternoon playing outside, I headed east on Monday, determined to find a spot to hunt for turkeys in the coming weeks.
And if that failed (which I suspected it might), I’d try to find a place to catch a brook trout or two.
And if that failed (which, again, I suspected it might), I’d have spent the day outside, in the Maine woods. And that, at least, would be something.
As I often point out, it’s pretty easy to have fun when your expectations are modest … or even lower than that.
The big reason for the trip: I’m in need of a new turkey-hunting spot. And for years, as the state’s turkey flock has meandered across the countryside, taking up housekeeping in all kinds of new areas, I’ve had my eye on a particular piece of woods that I know pretty well.
I deer hunt there, gratefully, due to the open-access policy of the land managers at Prentiss & Carlisle. I’ve seen all kinds of critters in those woods over the years. Turkeys, I have always figured, will eventually show up.
They’ve advanced within a half mile of my favorite spot; of that, I’m sure. Regularly, I have to stop and wait for a turkey parade to cross the dirt road as I head toward the woods I know so well.
Alas, those birds live on posted land. And though I’ve seen some turkey droppings on the road that runs through my favorite piece of woods, I’ve never (or heard) any actual birds.
This, I hoped, was the year I’d find the evidence that I’d hoped for: Real, live turkeys in a Wildlife Management District that was only opened to turkey hunting a few years back.
After driving, hiking and calling a bit, I’m still not sure the birds have shown up en masse. As Red Sox fans used to say, “Maybe next year.”
Oh, well. As I might have pointed out, I really didn’t have high hopes for the turkeys. And since I hedged my bet, I also had a fly rod in the truck, and hastily geared up and headed to a little brook for some prospecting.
The brook was beautiful, if small. The mosquitoes were swarming — always a good sign when you’re trying to catch a few trout — but the flying bloodsuckers were my favorite kind: They weren’t biting … yet. Another indication that it might be time for brook fishing to heat up: I found some roadside alders with leaves as big as a mouse’s ear.
That harbinger of spring, I’ve always been told, usually means that trout are hungry, and that they’ll be willing to consider your offerings. Of course, I’ve also always wondered how big the mouse is supposed to be when you do the ol’ ear-measuring trick. So perhaps I was a bit early … or late.
Either way, I walked a bit, fished a couple of likely spots, and sadly, had no luck. (As I might have pointed out, this, too, was not a surprise).
The day, however, was brilliant. I had that parcel of land to myself. I never saw another truck. I sat on rocks when I felt like it, soaked in the sun’s rays, and watched the woods for signs of life.
Birds (not turkeys, unfortunately) twittered. The trees swayed in a steady breeze. I noticed new spots to check out during deer season.
And eventually, I returned. Troutless. Having heard no turkeys. But definitely reinvigorated after a day spent in Maine’s great outdoor playground.