May 5, 2010

New Jersey Spring Turkey Opener

Well my original goal was to spend 5 or 6 days hunting turkey and fishing for shad down in the Delaware Water Gap but as things go something came up and I had to change my plans to a two day trip.  Stinks for sure, but still fun and relaxing, just way too short.  A couple of my friends were lucky enough to spend the entire first week of the season chasing the birds and the daily updates I got from them just seemed to make it hurt more, well except for the rain and cold weather they had at the beginning of the week which made me glad I was inside at my desk.

Jimmy (aka "I have a loaf of bread") and Billy (aka "Busch Pilot") fought through the rain and cold for the first 3 days of the season as they worked the stubborn birds.  One afternoon they had to call it quits due to hunting hours ending just as they were working a longbeard into their position.  Man I hate when that happens.   Busch Pilot was fortunate enough to get a nice Jake into range earlier in the week with about 4 minutes to spare so he decided with the weather forecast what it was he better take the opportunity that presented him and he harvested his bird.  Not the longbeard he was after but definitely a trophy on heavily hunted public land.

Busch Pilots Spring 2010 New Jersey Bird

My friend Jim (aka "Bubba") and I headed out for NJ Thursday afternoon to meet up with the rest of the crew and get a few days of hunting and relaxing in.  Bubba is recovering from surgery so he wasn't planning on hunting, but instead catching up on his sleep and some sightseeing.  We arrived in the Gap Thursday afternoon to find the guys at the river doing some shad fishing.  My dad was down there as were a few of his pals and the only one that was having any type of consistency with the shad was my Dad's friend Paul.  I think the weird thing about Paul's success was that it was somehow tied into his weird choice of tackle or maybe it was his choice of women's waders.  Anyway, it really doesn't matter how he chooses to dress or what he was using for tackle, because he was kicking everyones butt.  Paul was using a Cabela's Wobble Jig with a small plastic tail on it and he did really well with it.  As a matter of fact, the shad in the "Shad fishing the Delaware 4/29/10" blog post was caught on a Pink Wobble jig.

Cabela's Wobbler Jig

Friday I decided to hunt a section of the mountain were Busch Pilot and I had a previous encounter 2 years ago with a big Tom and instead of getting him we almost got run over by two black bears. As i started heading into the woods I heard a gobble, good sign but I couldn't pinpoint the bird but I had a good idea of where he was so I slowly and quietly worked my way into the woods to try and get closer and as I was doing so I heard a hen cackle as she flew down off her roost.  I decided not to try and get closer but to rush a setup so as to not spook her.  Well it started out as if my decision and plan was coming together because that hen stayed put about 80 yards from me just clucking, yelping and cutting and ofcourse that big old tom was talking back and coming her way so I basically let nature take it's course but chimed in with some of my own love calls on occasion. It wasn't long before i started seeing other birds coming from the direction of the gobbler and as both that hen and I continued to call he came strutting into view at 80 yards.  I knew with all the hens around that I would be hard pressed to call him away so I concentrated on the hens.  Well that plan sure looked like it was going to work as I was able to get the hens to come up the little knob I was on and look me over but when the Tom gobbled, they just turned and went back down.  I watched them work their way out the direction I had come in.  The only good part was Busch Pilot was out there and I knew he had to hear them and ofcourse he did because i received a text asking why I haven't shot yet.  Well we continued to work this old bird and he stayed within a couple hundred yards of his roost and never left.  He just hung out strutting back and forth while his girls fed away.  The noon quitting time comes a lot quicker than you think when you have a big old longbeard just hanging out and there is nothing you can do about it.

Saturday started off way different but ended up the same way.  I decided to sneak back into the same area to see if the gobbler I left there yesterday was still around.  It was quiet up until about 7:30 when I heard the first gobble and it was below me and close to the same area we left that Tome the day before.  We never could not get this bird to gobble at us at all but he gobbled 4 times in total between the first one at 7:30 and the last one at 9:15.  He was pretty much doing the same thing that was going on yesterday.  Back and forth along a strut line but uninterested in our calls.  What was interesting is that about 9:30 I hear something crunching through the woods behind these deadfalls and then all of a sudden....there it is....  nope not the gobbler but one big black bear who came right up from where that gobbler was.  The bear stayed for just a little bit and I just couldn't get any pictures or video it thanks to the brush.  The bear started heading out towards Busch Pilot's position and I know how much he loves bears, not really, so being the good friend that i am,  I hit him on the radio so he could pack up and run away.  He let me know that about 10 minutes before I called him that a hen came cruising by him up from where the gobbler was so my thought was that this bear split them up and forced the gobbler the other direction.  I worked my way further out the bench to see if I could raise him, but nothing.  So around 11:15 I decide to start my way back to the car and work the lower benches to see if that gobbler got pushed down some, but no luck.  For two days of turkey hunting I had seen birds and heard gobbles so I can't complain.  No other birds were shot and there was no shooting near us.  Jimmy and his nephew James worked a bird along the fields but it kept putting the slip on them and they had to reposition a couple of times but just couldn't close the deal.  My dad spent Saturday morning working the PA side for birds as that was the PA opener but he too went home empty.

Bubba and I spent the afternoon doing some sightseeing  while the rest of the crew decided to work the shad over again.  There were loads of bird watchers out and about and we actually saw two Baltimore Orioles but couldn't get a picture of them.  The Bear count was down for us this trip as I only saw two, one of which we got a picture of and 5 were seen before I arrived.  Compared to the 14 I saw last year I was bummed.

Delaware Water Gap Black Bear

This one is for my buddy Ray.  He has a passion for barn pictures and has taken many himself.  Hope he enjoys it.
Old Red Barn on Old Mine Rd - Depew

Bubba and I did some exploring into a section of the gap where neither of us had spent much time and we ran across Buttermilk Falls which was just an incredible little falls that offered some cool refreshing air to tame the 90 degree heat we were in.  There is a hiking trail with some stairs to hike to the top but with Bubba's arm still in a sling and the stitches just having been removed we thought it was smarter to stay on flat ground.

 Buttermilk Falls 
Delaware Water Gap - New Jersey

This is the 3rd year of this spring trip and hopefully we have many more to come and it continues to grow as large as our fall trips. I can't think of any better time to visit the gap then in the spring and fall. All in all a great trip, great weather, great friends, family and loads of laughs.


  1. That was a great report and outstanding pictures! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. I too have a fondness for old barns so nice is a nice picture.