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.

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.

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.

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.

Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK

The magic of the Adirondacks is the result of previous generations taking a long view and protecting the mountains, lakes, and rivers within the Blue Line. That tradition continues today as we support and encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace ethics, which help protect the lands and waters of the Adirondacks.

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POB 2326
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