• Ken Perrotte

Soggy Early Season Turkey Hunt in New York Vineyards Yields No Birds, But Offers Insights

Updated: May 9


Turkey hunting Vineyard

Click on photo for article in NWTF Turkey Country magazine


An early May excursion to Chautauqua County in far northwestern New York along the shores of Lake Erie didn't yield any birds, although my hunting partner Gary Burmaster and I could have doubled on jakes (juvenile gobblers) our first morning out. The weather was mostly miserable, rain every day and fog every morning - sometimes almost all morning. It would have been cool to get a mature gobbler to thunder from the treetops, fly down unseen and then strut out of the thick mist toward our decoys and his unsuspecting doom. But, that didn't happen. The weather cleared by mid-morning of the final day of our hunt. Gary had a hunch about a far corner of a remote vineyard where he had been successful in tagging late morning toms in the past. It was a sweet setup, but no turkeys wanted to play. I returned to Virginia with a turkey tag still in my pocket and a case of wine in my car.


Burmaster is a farmer, a grape farmer turned winemaker. His Liberty Vineyards is one of

the New York wine country's most popular venues, famed for its award-winning products and laid back ambiance. He has been a dedicated turkey hunter for 30 years and is a leader in the National Wild Turkey Federation's Lakeshore Longbeards chapter. Many farmers, including grape farmers, consider wild turkeys an agricultural pest and they routinely promote for expanded killing of the birds. Burmaster acknowledges turkeys will eat some grapes but based on his longstanding observations, he thinks the birds do more harm them good. The reason is they are usually after protein-rich insects when they are in the vineyard. In that regard, they are a bit of a pest-control agent for him, helping his vines. Deer and, especially, raccoons, are much more serious problems when it comes to grape munching, he notes.


Turkey hunting in vineyard

I hope you click on the photo at the top of the blog and read the detailed feature in Turkey Country magazine. A silver lining to the trip was being able to make an afternoon excursion with Marty Klemann of Canadaway Creek Outfitters to fish for steelhead and smallmouth bass. We didn't score on the steelhead but I did catch a nice smallie. This western new York area is an outdoors wonderland. Multiple trips were planned there this year (2020) but New York's COVD-19 quarantine rules kept many nonresidents away. Here is hoping for improved opportunities in 2021.


Oh, and what were my favorite wines from Liberty Vineyards? Well, I liked White Side of the Moon and Cat Noir for their names as well as taste. Rufus Red and Barrel-select Noirette were tasty. The Reisling and Dry Diamond also rocked. Now, keep on Rambling!


How sloppy can it get? Pretty sloppy!


Marty Klemann tells us a little about Canadaway Creek Outfitters in this short clip.