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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The clock is ticking for Virginia's spring turkey season, which ends at sunset Saturday.
Unless Virginia's turkey hunters go into a stall offense, they could set a scoring record.
Through this past weekend hunters had checked in 17,257 birds through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries electronic checking system.
Not only does that leave last year's season total of 15,326 in the dust, but it's knocking on the door of the all-time best of 18,325 recorded in 2002.
Topping that total isn't a forgone conclusion.
Hunting pressure typically wanes late in the season, so hunters aren't taking birds with nearly the frequency of the early weeks.
Some hunters have tagged out, while plenty of those who haven't have grown weary of the 4 a.m. wake-ups.
Hunters who are still at it have an advantage.
Several years ago the DGIF began allowing all-day hunting in the final two weeks of the season.
While most die-hard turkey hunters prefer the mornings because gobblers tend to be more vocal, afternoon hunting can be productive.
For hunters with kids, especially kids who have commitments to extracurricular activities on Saturdays, it can be the only viable option.
My friend Freddy McGuire is an early bird, but he'll go out in the afternoon when it fits.
He filled his three tags early, but is still getting out there with his arsenal of calls to help friends and family.
I asked him Monday for some tips on scoring on an afternoon gobbler later in the season.
Scouting can be a big help, he pointed out.
"If you see a gobbler in a field for a couple of days in a row, that's a good place to start," McGuire said with a laugh.
Freddy has the advantage of having assistance from friends and family, including one tipster who recently mentioned that a gobbler had been strutting right in front of one of the tent blinds McGuire already has set up on the edge of the field.
When we talked Monday, McGuire said he was hoping to be in that blind later in the afternoon with someone he is hoping to call a turkey in for.
McGuire said he usually has a place in mind when he heads out for afternoon hunts, but still typically does some turkey calling or uses a locator call while working toward his hunting spot.
"Obviously, if you get one to gobble, you'll want to go hunt that bird," he said.
If not, it's usually a matter of setting up and waiting.
"It's time to kick back and enjoy your deer hunt," he said, comparing turkey hunting to another kind of wait-and-hope hunting approach.
On hot days, McGuire likes focusing on shady sides of fields. On chilly days, sunny spots seem to draw more turkeys.
Another option is to set up near known roosting areas.
That can be risky early in the season, where buggering up a roosting spot could have lasting consequences. But with just a few days of hunting left, that's not such a worry now.
"It's time to pull out all the stops," McGuire said.
If enough hunters do that over the next few days, that record will probably fall.
Team Towe second at USA Bassin Nitro Classic
The names Danny and Trevis Towe are familiar, probably even a little feared, on the Western Virginia bass tournament scene.
The father and son team from Salem are frequently in the mix in regional tournaments, and have won more than their share.
It turns out they're pretty good off their home waters, too.
This past Friday and Saturday the Towes were at Kentucky Lake for the USA Bassin' Nitro Classic.
They came away from the event with one of those Nitro boats, a fully rigged Z-7 that went to the tournament's second place team.
"To go out and compete against those boys on their home water, that's something," Trevis Towe said.
Team Towe had a total weight of 39.671 pounds, about four pounds behind Ronnie Grant and Don Ingram, whose first day catch of more than 24 pounds gave them a big lead.
The key tactic for the Towes was fishing main lake points and ledges at depths of 7 to 10 feet with a 6th Sense 300D crankbait.
This is the second boat the Towes have won. They got another a couple years ago for winning the Angler's Choice Marine Fall Classic.
Having just purchased a new Skeeter bass boat last fall, Trevis Towe said the Nitro is going on the market as soon as it's delivered.
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