Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is the air

© By Othmar Vohringer
(Originally published in the Merritt News: "Othmar Vohringer - The Outdoorsman")

March and April are for several reasons great times for me. The first is knowing that the winter soon will be over. Although having grown up in cold, snowy Switzerland I never liked it and I still don’t. As a hunter it also means that the spring hunting season is soon upon us.

March and April are also the two months where I do quite a bit of travelling to various hunting sports events with my seminars. The “seminar tour” kicks off with the BC Boat & Sportsmen’s show in Abbotsford, which is BC’s largest hunting and fishing sport show. It is at such events where I meet fellow outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life and regardless of social backgrounds they’re like one big family sharing a common bond between each other that is not encumbered by state borders, language, race, age or gender.

It is at these tradeshows and gatherings that I often meet people that leave a lasting impression on me and this year was no exception. I meet two fascinating people from British Columbia that I will introduce to you here in the near future. One of them has an extraordinary skill at building bows that are not only functional but also pieces of art. The other person possesses a special talent in the training of hunting dogs and happens to be the only women in her professional field. Both individuals are exceptional in their commitment and passion for their chosen vocation.
As you read this I am getting ready for another seminar over the weekend and after that it is time to get prepared for the opening of the spring hunting season. Besides whitetail deer, turkeys are by far my favourite game species and so I look forward to heading a bit eastwards in the pursuit of the main ingredient for Thanksgiving dinner. Turkeys are not very common around Merritt but that may change in a few years. A few months ago Conservation Officer Jeff Hanratty sent me a picture of two Merriam’s turkeys he photographed not to far outside of Merritt. There are no domesticated or feral turkeys of that subspecies in our area, at least not to my knowledge. This means that the wild turkeys have spread into the Nicola Valley too.

I’ve been hunting turkeys for many years and they are very challenging. Their eyesight is akin to that of an eagle and they are constantly scanning their surroundings for any danger. A hunter has to be well camouflaged and keep very still otherwise he will be detected in no time from a long distance away by these highly alert birds. Turkeys respond well to calling but they are not easily fooled. Every year hunters go home empty handed because their calling skills are not up to par with real turkey sounds. As with any hunting, knowledge of the game animal’s habits and routines is important in order to have a chance at success. For those of you who would like to give turkey hunting a try, head east of Kelowna and you will find turkeys. The further east you go the better it gets. The areas around Grand Forks and Christina Lake are currently the wild turkey hotspots.

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