Hunting

Mayday! Mayday! Turkey time in the Lake Champlain region

Sure, this is generally a time of year when sportsmen and women are thinking about trout or readying their boats and fishing gear for their first forays of the season on Lake Champlain, where pre-spawn bass await in both quantity and quality.

But there's a whole other fraternity out there who wouldn't consider looking at a fishing rod during the month of May, and with good reason.

It's time to talk turkey.

Perhaps no other legion of hunters is so passionate about their sport as spring gobbler hunters. It's a pursuit that prompts us to rise well before dawn (even before the hunting season opens; there's scouting to be done), slip into the dark woods, await the morning light and strain every muscle in our ears to listen for the gobble of a tom that's looking for a lovesick hen.

It's time to talk turkey.

While the Lake Champlain Region is best known for its world-class fishery and quality deer hunting, spring gobbler hunting is on the rise, with bird numbers exploding in the area and offering exceptional hunting each May. Hunters ages 12 to 15 can participate in the annual Youth Turkey Hunt, a weekend offering in April that gains popularity every year.

Recent years' nesting and brood-rearing seasons were outstanding, and that means plenty of birds on the landscape in towns like Chesterfield, Willsboro, Essex, Elizabethtown, Lewis, Moriah, Westport, Crown Point and Ticonderoga. Strutting longbeards can now be found in spots where they've never been seen before as flocks of turkeys expand their range across the region. Fortunately, much of the land on which they're now found is open to hunting — public tracts in the form of state forest preserve and state forest lands. Hear a distant gobble, and chances are you can get to the talkative tom because he's on huntable property.

It's time to talk turkey.

Because turkey hunting has only recently soared in popularity here in the Adirondacks, many areas don't see a lot of hunting pressure. That's good news visitors to the Lake Champlain Region, who can find very cooperative gobblers and not much competition from other hunters. Whether you're stroking on a box call, working a mouth call or offering some seductive hen yelps on a slate call, our gobblers can be very vocal, which only adds to the excitement.

But this is turkey hunting, and as any serious gobbler pursuer knows it's never a sure thing. A lot more can go wrong than goes right when the bird is approaching and it's almost showtime. But we turkey hunters wouldn't have it any other way. The excitement, the frustration and the pure joy associated with tagging a beautiful longbeard is something that drags us up in the dark, morning after morning.

In the Lake Champlain Region, in addition to the thousands of acres of public land and good numbers of birds, there are plenty of lodging and dining options to keep you rested and fueled up for each day's hunt. You'll be surprised at the hunting up here, so much so you won't even think about those Lake Champlain bass until June.

It's time to talk turkey. 

Split Rock Wild Forest

The largest undeveloped tract of land on the Lake Champlain shoreline, Split Rock Wild Forest covers 3,700 acres in the towns of Essex and Westport. The landscape is dominated by Split Rock...

Location: 
, Essex, 12936
Hammond Pond Wild Forest

This large, 40,000-acre tract covers portions of five Lake Champlain region towns – Elizabethtown, Westport, Moriah, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga. While the wild forest designation allows this...

Location: 
4363 Lincoln Pond Road, Elizabethtown, 12932
High Peaks Wilderness Area

The largest wilderness area in the Adirondacks has it all, from rugged terrain to forest cover to wildlife. At 300 square miles, it covers portions of six towns and three counties – North Elba,...

Location: 
., Lake Placid, 12946
Wickham Marsh Wildlife Area

A small parcel when compared to forest preserve tracts of the Adirondack Park, Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area covers over 860 acres in the town of Chesterfield. A series of trails provide...

Location: 
, Elizabethtown, 12932
Westport Pheasant Release Site

For pheasant hunters in Essex County, there is only one choice. With virtually no natural reproduction in the North Country, hunters must take advantage of the annual releases of stocked pheasants...

Location: 
, Westport, 12993
Eastern View Outfitters
Location: 
POB 2326
Plattsburgh, Port Henry, 12974