Case: Early birds will get going at the smallest sign of spring

Contributed photo / While there are still some weeks ahead before it's spring on the calendar, nice days with sunshine in early March are a reminder the droll and dark months of winter won't last forever.
Contributed photo / While there are still some weeks ahead before it's spring on the calendar, nice days with sunshine in early March are a reminder the droll and dark months of winter won't last forever.

"March is a green, muddy month down below. Some folks like it. Farmers, mostly." — Chris "Bear Claw" Lapp in the movie "Jeremiah Johnson"

Can you believe it's March? Me neither. Years ago, older friends told me that as you age, each year goes faster. I didn't believe it then, but I surely do now.

Where does the time go? I'm not sure, but if you find out, please tell me.

As you know, the seasons of the year are especially important to hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen (yes, that means girls, too) in general. We are in a big transition right now, as March is the time when we go from one mode, one season to another. Small game hunting seasons, for the most part, go out at the end of February; some spring turkey seasons start to come in March, but it's usually later in the month.

So many of us are in a state of transition. We are getting ready.

Much of this getting ready stuff is in the form of scouting, which is tramping the woods and looking for the next thing we are going to hunt. This time of year, that usually means turkeys.

I am sure that many of you out there who are not really consumed by this thing about chasing turkeys really don't understand about spending every waking hour looking for these birds, even when you are not actually hunting them yet. Well, don't feel like the Lone Ranger, because most of us turkey hunters don't understand it either! We just know we want to go to the woods, look around for the signs of turkeys and maybe actually see and hear them.

(READ MORE: The curious case of the spring turkey hunter)

Before I move on, that hearing part on wild turkeys first thing in the spring is important. We still have a ways until it's actually spring, according to the calendar and the vernal equinox (March 19 this year), but turkeys don't know this, so any nice days with sunshine are very likely to be accompanied by the wonderful soundtrack of wild turkeys gobbling their little beaks off.

It is the quintessential sound of spring. When you hear your first turkey gobble, you know it is for real. The shackles of winter will be broken, the droll and dark months are finally over. (I don't know about you, but I really need it this year!)

  photo  Contributed photo / Turkey hunters may have to wait until later in March for their chance to go after gobblers, but scouting the fields and woods right now allows them the chance to hear the birds' familiar call.

If you're a turkey hunter, sometime before March is over, you are going to go somewhere for a long walk in the woods. You are going to start early in the morning before sunrise (that's right, before the chickens get up and have their coffee) because you might, just might get to hear the gobble of a wild turkey. That sound — that wild, unmistakable sound — has driven many hunters to near insanity. I am not trying to justify this obsession; I am just trying to explain and report on it.

This sound, which some American Indians may have taken their war cry from, has enthralled generations of hunters and fueled an industry of shotguns, ammunition, camouflage and other gear totaling in the billions of dollars. The hunters buying the gear are doing it to hunt turkeys, but they go to the woods to hear a turkey gobble. It's true.

(READ MORE: Wild & Wonderful weekend at Greenbrier was a sight to see)

OK, you know me, friends — I could talk about loudmouth turkeys for three days, but March has something else going on in the outdoors world, too. It is when many of you get to the water for the first time and drown some worms to go fishing.

The fishing in the early spring is somehow even more special to me than in the days of summer. It's a new year, so everything is fresh. It is really not even spring yet, so you got a good early start and didn't wait too long to start fishing like you usually do. The water is still cold, but when it warms enough, you can envision hungry walleyes and smallmouth bass waiting to hit whatever you drag past them.

Just like you, they are joyful that winter has broken and things are warming up.

Don't miss out on these first days, these early days of not-quite spring.

Often you can mix the March scouting trips to the woods with a bit of fishing later in the day. If the adventure includes a tiny brook trout stream and, even better, a patch of ramps to go with the trout and some taters you brought along, you have hit a home run. (Might be a little early to talk about morel mushrooms yet.)

Don't miss these early chances to enjoy the new season. Go get your rubber boots and that cast iron skillet for camping, and put them in the truck right now.

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at


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