Wild turkey gobblers already are doing the thing that earns them their name.
Kentucky’s turkeys are engaged in breeding season behavior perhaps a little earlier this year. Late winter weather of late has been rather mild — short on cold overnight temperatures and long on rather springlike daytime highs.
Conditions that are more reminiscent of spring than that of winter seem to be rushing the environment ahead on the calendar. An earlier-than-usual leaf-out appears to be perking on the trees and shrubby woody vegetation. Hunters a few weeks from now may find more greenery out there than they typically encounter at first.
Tom turkeys are known to gobble and strut with tail-fanned displays throughout the entire year, so these vocalizations and hen-impressing shows are not unlikely in late February and early March. However, anecdotal reports suggest the volume of gobbling and strutting has intensified somewhat more like what might be expected toward the end of March.
Typically courting behavior in gobblers takes a dramatic upswing near the conclusion of this month. After all, Kentucky’s early youth spring gobbler hunting season, the weekend of April 1-2, is set to put adult-accompanied kid hunters (younger than 16) out there during the peak of gobbling.
Kentucky’s regular spring turkey season starts two week later, running April 15-May 7. Some hunters bemoan it, but managers purposely start the regular season after the peak of gobbling. The intention is to allow many hens to have been bred by dominant toms before the heaviest hunting pressure begins.
Regulations with a significance to the coming turkey hunting season include a prohibition on the use of turkey calls prior to hunting periods anywhere that turkeys might be legitimately hunted.
Managers don’t want callers to educate wild birds on the man-made sounds of hens or gobblers that hunters use to attract or get gobblers to sound off.
Meanwhile, the feeding of wildlife away from the immediate area of homes is prohibited during the period of March 1-July 31. It especially is pertinent before the spring gobbler hunting season that people cannot place grain, seeds, manufactured feed, salt or any other attractant out there where wildlife including turkeys might be artificially attracted and concentrated. (Hunting turkeys over placed food is considered baiting, and that is a separate hunting violation.)
The restriction against feeding wildlife (away from homes) doesn’t apply to normal agricultural practices, food plots or to municipal areas where hunting is not allowed.
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From our perspective, activities in the natural world will take place an hour later than usual beginning Sunday.
The critters won’t notice any change, but those of us who measure time with instruments will initially encounter a 23-hour day and then a steady diet of days that are an hour ahead of themselves. It is, of course, the onset of daylight saving time.
What that means is that people who want to be on the same page — and same time — with other people should set their clocks forward one hour to adjust from “standard” time to DST. The official time for the nation (except for most of Arizona) to spring forward is 2 a.m. on March 12.
That’s in the little bitty hours tomorrow morning. Now, you could stay up until that time to change your clocks, but I’m going to recommend just advancing those timepieces by an hour before going to bed whenever you normally would. Whatever you do, you’re going to get cheated out of an hour of the overnight, but making the clocks correct with daylight saving time will keep you from being late for something that is coordinated with DST.
We’ll get that lost hour back, so to speak, when — and if — daylight time expires at 2 a.m. on the Sunday of Nov. 5, as is the current schedule. That is when we will “fall back,” setting clocks backward by an hour.
The result of this clock jockeying is a 23-hour day tomorrow but a 25-hour day on Nov. 5, if we remain on this schedule. The result of this change to daylight time as sensed by us humans is a later morning, daylight and sunrise coming an hour slower. But on the flip side, daylight lasts a perceived hour longer — sundown, dusk and nightfall delayed by 60 minutes according to our timekeeping measurement.
Wildlife, if the critters were to pay any attention to mankind’s schedule, would think that we are pretty silly. Animals, birds, fish and such are able to operate without watches because they always remain on nature standard time. They do what they do according to the sun, the hours of daylight.
The original application of DST was to save energy from reduced use of lighting. It can during World War I. Getting darker later let people spar artificial lighting longer. Something like that idea was proposed much earlier was presented by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who advanced the notion that people should be active in all possible daylight, then might as well be ready for bed when it got dark.
Many people would still prefer more light in the evenings to get things done. Especially in the late fall and winter when days are shortest, 5 p.m. nightfalls are widely disliked. Generally, folks don’t like the two annual time changes, especially the “spring forward,” but most seem to prefer the longer-lasting afternoons.
Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act to put the nation on daylight time year-round. That movement died from inaction in the House of Representatives. Just last week, however, a bill to establish perpetual DST was reintroduced in the Senate, while companion legislation was introduced in the House.
The proposal has bi-partisan support in both legislative bodies, and I personally hope a lot of them would prefer longer afternoons as the expense of later mornings.
Meanwhile, birds are going to start chirping about 20 minutes before sunrise every morning no matter what our clocks say. They’ll flutter back to their roosting spots 15 or 20 minutes after sunset regardless of how politicians vote on daylight or standard time proposals.
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