After a long winter lockdown courtesy of COVID-19, I was able to awake from hibernation, get fully vaccinated, and go hunting for turkey in late April. Based on last year I headed right back to Yellowstone Lake State Park / Yellowstone Wildlife Area in the southwestern region of the state known as the Driftless Area. Right as I was driving in and road scouting I found some birds. These were on public – all hens, but a good start.
A bit down the road I found a longbeard, a jake, and quite a few more hens. This was on private and would be the last birds I saw the entire time. Weather was exceptionally warm early this year and there has been very scarce snow/rain and conditions were drought-like. The only places I found sign were down low in creek beds and nowhere else, and all the Toms seemed henned-up which again I attribute mostly to the weather.
Found a handful of quizzical whitetail deer as well. They didn’t mind my presence much as I was no threat this early in the year. Eat up my furry friend, fall is coming!
Having struck out on my early hikes I setup some decoys at the spot I nearly bagged one last year. Zero gobbles or signs of animal life anywhere during daylight hours.
Hiked a few more spots from last year and was finding fresh scratching deep in the woods but no birds. The topography here was setup so they could roost a few hundred yards away and fly down here over some very tough terrain where nothing would endanger them, and then in daylight would quickly move down into a canyon that was impossible to access.
Day one came & passed with a nice sunset. If nothing else, it was certainly nice to be outdoors again and left free to soak it all in by myself in silence.
Day 2 started with some new areas but equal amounts of success. And by that I mean zero birds found. I started a hike in the wildlife area that began normal and led me in a loop through a huge section of prescribed burn. I couldn’t find anything online about this burn but it was definitely controlled and I imagine it was to control invasive plants by the look of things.
Another view of the burn area. It sucks because I basically got stuck on the loop and couldn’t really cut across and escape. Turned into a long hike through a rather alien-looking world. Maybe with climate change I should get used to this, ugh…
Came across a small reservoir in the middle. All the bare trees and black burned dirt were dramatically juxtaposed against the green grass and mirror surface of the water. Quite a bizarre landscape but still no birds so I hiked onwards.
Even the trees were looking freaky. This one was pretty unique and large compared to most others which are smaller & younger.
I’m not very superstitious but coming across this deer carcass was a crystal clear sign of how my hunt was going. I do wonder: did this deer pass while hiding from the controlled burn (possibly from smoke?), maybe some coyotes got him, maybe starvation or cold? Body was right on the edge of green grass and burn.
One final look as the sun set on this chapter. Overnight temps were down below freezing and my new truck camping setup was freezing my balls off so decided to try another spot. I still had a few days left but the drought conditions were making this tough. Stay tuned for photos from part 2 with equal amounts of no turkeys!Lat = 42.7756767 , Long = -90.0130005 -- Show at Google Maps