Outdoors With Craig Robbins

In two weeks, those who will be taking part in New York State’s youth spring turkey weekend will be the first in the spring turkey woods. I am all for the youth turkey weekend, and enjoy watching young folks taking a spring gobbler, but often times I am more excited about the young hunter.

Here in lies the difficulty. New hunters don’t know or understand that excitement. They don’t understand that many times we turkey hunters are sitting still for hours on end. This can be tough for a veteran hunter and that much more difficult for rookies.

This is why I use ground/popup blinds whenever it’s possible. A well-brushed in blind allows your new hunter the opportunity to observe wildlife like they have never seen before. The best part is it also affords more movement than a traditional butt-on-a-bare-ground hunt.

After all the hours of preparation, road time, poring over maps, sole leather laid down, fine tuning your calls, sighting in your guns and the rest of those little things that make turkey hunting special, it’s finally time for opening morning.

There are several things that make spring turkey hunting exciting, but one of the things that I get up early for is the sound of the gobbler at first light. Having a wild critter, no matter if it’s a turkey, duck or deer, respond to a call you produce is exciting.

Of all the things that I don’t look forward to each spring season is the lack of sleep. While doing your homework to find birds and figure out where they are going when you’re hunting them is what we worry about, lack of sleep can affect every decision you will make.

The older I get the more I begin to understand the little things that make the difference in being successful. Knowing when to move or when to stay, which call to use, which bird to go after or which area to hunt is important. Understanding the effect of lack of sleep and how it will affect your hunting and the decisions that you’re making is also important.

While I am not a doctor, I do know what lack of sleep does for me. Years of guiding and hanging around hunting camps and watching how hunters react to no sleep has taught me some tips.

The average adult human needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. Some may say that’s too much and others may say it’s not enough, but on an average 7 to 8 hours of good sleep keeps the average adult going. The problem is getting good rest. Getting in 8 hours of undisturbed sleep is the key.

My system may not work for everybody, but I have found that different variations of it can work for most. For me, I have found that getting to bed no later then 11 p.m. allows me to get up around 4-4:30 a.m. Sometime in the mid-afternoon I try to sneak in a power nap. I generally can keep this up for a few days, then I have to play catch-up on my sleep.

Now, its not a widely accepted or discussed practice, but during those slow times while I am sitting comfortably under a big old oak tree I catch a few minutes. There is something about sleeping in the woods; the rest seems to be more relaxing and peaceful.

While much is written about turkey hunting safety, seldom do we hear about the lack of sleep. It’s widely known that lack of sleep can affect your vision, reflexes and judgment.

With spring turkey hunting becoming more popular, it’s very important that when we hunt we all understand the basic rules of firearms and hunting safety. Controlling the muzzle of your firearm at all times is vital. Knowing your target and what lies beyond should be the first and last thing we all think about before we touch the trigger. Some may think that wearing hunter orange while walking in and out of the woods alarms turkey. Well, to that I say hogwash. A wild turkey will hear you walking in the woods long before he is going to see you.