116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa does not rank second among the 50 states in wind energy production for nothing.
A weather forecaster who predicted windy conditions this March and April would have been right about 95 percent of the time.
As happy as I am for wind energy producers, I, like others of my acquaintance, have grown a little tired of the near-constant roar in my ears, the big bows in my fishing line, vibrating turkey decoys and chasing my hat across wind-swept landscapes.
The wind and cold were especially annoying during the second of Iowa’s four spring turkey seasons (April 15-19). At nearby Independence, the average low temperature was 24.3 degrees and the average peak wind gust for the first four of those five days was 31 mph, according to the Iowa State University Mesonet.
At the end of the fifth day, after a combined 36 hours in the fields and woods along the Wapsipinicon River, I had joined the 78 percent of hunters who have to eat a $28.50 license rather than the delectable flesh of a wild turkey.
My hunt coincided with the first full moon following the spring equinox, the celestial event that determines the date for Easter, which fell on the third day of my five-day hunt. Each morning at 5:15, more than an hour before the official sunrise, I followed my own distinct moon shadow through a nearly day-lit landscape to my ambush site.
In the moon’s cold reflected light, I thought often of the mythical Scandinavian mother’s rejoinder to her children’s whining that it’s too cold to play outside: There’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes.
There are both, I concluded after shivering in boots, gloves, hat, long underwear, sweater, down jacket and coveralls while watching frost glitter on the barrel of my shotgun and on the backs of my turkey decoys.
I was looking especially forward to this turkey season — my first with new hearing aids — because I expected to hear with renewed clarity the turkey sounds that advancing age had dulled.
During the first four days of my hunt, I heard no clucks or gobbles, but that was because of silent or absent turkeys. Every other sound of nature came through loud and clear.
The hundreds of crows roosting nearby sounded off first, the din of their bickering possibly drowning out any turkey sounds. Next came the cack cack of a rooster pheasant calling for potential mates. Canada geese flying the river articulated their every thought. Woodpeckers hammered on freshly dead ash trees. The constant raspy whispers of mallards accented the sweeter tones of songbirds. Then came the piece de resistance — the inimitable melodious clicking of a lone sandhill crane, audible long before its lanky silhouette appeared above the nearby river.
As inimitable were my own attempts to attract turkeys, which ranged from the coy cluck of the hen who can get any gobbler she wants to the plaintive cry of the desperate hen whom nobody likes.
Midway through the first morning I coordinated my unrequited turkey calls with the twice-per-hour pleas of the rooster pheasant.
When the second season ended on April 19, the rooster was still lonesome, and I was both lonesome and cold.