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Today is May 9, 2021

Outdoors

An announcement of spring

By Tony Kinton

An announcement of spring

There are few sights more captivating than strutting turkeys on a spring morning.

He was grand and gaudy and gigantic and entirely capable, by his simple presence, of soothing wounded spirits and mitigating dour moods. The week before there was snow. That was grand as well. But now this bird — deep black with a brilliant red head, its crown proudly pileated. Some white between the red and black.

He was a pileated woodpecker, one of the more commanding birds flitting about the woodlands. My daddy called them Indian Hens. No matter the name, I was early on enamored of them. And that call! It was and is unnerving, enchanting. And here he was, on an elm and then an oak, where snow was last week. I wished for his call. The situation would have been ornamented had he called, but he didn’t. I watched in awe.

And that admirable observation somehow prompted my mind toward thoughts of spring. It was still some distance away that day, that day of the bird and that week after snow, but spring was coming. In fact, by the time these words are published, there are likely serious hints of spring budding from lawns and pastures and woods edges. And from tree branches. Even though Mississippi can sneak in the surprise snow or freeze or sleet-slicked walkways in March, time is short for the arrival of true spring.

Anglers and hunters are considering their potential and upcoming pursuits and how these relate to spring. The hunter will likely turn attention to turkeys. This bird is the premier candidate at such a time. There are some outdoors types among us who lose sleep and mental faculties in love with and planning for and frustration over this magnificent marvel. A strutting and gobbling tom is a thing of majesty — posturing and pirouetting, iridescent hues shimmering in morning light.

And turkeys are challenging. Often it is that a hunter walks from the woods dejected, burdened with the heavy load of failure. Then again, failure is seldom true failure. To simply see a bird strut or hear him answer a cluck or yelp from the hunter’s calling is a mighty reward. Add to that a pleasant spring morning, and the word failure is an affront to the blessings just experienced.

And fishing can be good in March. This in all probability applies to those seeking crappie. Depending upon weather conditions and water temperature, crappie may be in the shallows, preparing and tending beds. If they are not there because water temperatures are still a bit low, they most likely are holding near drops and shelves between deep and shallow. But some prospecting can point the way, and once fish are found they will generally be in abundance.

Spring is here or certainly on the way. Whatever your springtime outdoor pursuit, the time for it is close at hand. And while out there, keep an eye and ear attuned for the pileated woodpecker. Location of such will enhance any outing.

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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