advice on SD merriams

Ask questions of and offer advice to fellow turkey hunters
twofer1
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 27th, 2013, 10:47 am

advice on SD merriams

Postby twofer1 » January 27th, 2013, 11:15 am

My buddy and I will be heading to S Dakota from Illinois the second week of MAY to try to harvest our first merriams. I have seen the area a couple of times, but never hunted out there. We will be hunting the Black Hills area and staying in Rapid City. We are both decent Eastern turkey hunters, but have never hunted Merriams. We sure would appreciate any advice at all. We will have tags for archery and shotgun. thanks in advance.
"Yeah,......It's that important!"

User avatar
Gopherlongbeards
 
Posts: 632
Joined: March 16th, 2011, 4:03 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby Gopherlongbeards » January 27th, 2013, 5:18 pm

Bring a good pair of boots and a loud box call. Merriam's in the hills cover a lot of ground, you you will need to as well. It's not uncommon to walk 10-15 miles a day prospecting for a bird. When the weather is nice its very enjoyable. Something about climbing around pine covered ridges on a fine May morning listening to gobbles is good for the soul. Those snow white tipped gobblers up at elevation absolutely GLOW in the morning sun. Almost too pretty to shoot. You see a lot of wildlife too. We have seen elk, bighorn sheep, plenty of deer etc. Have yet to see a lion while hunting, but there is always plenty of sign and I'm sure they have seen us. If you can roost one, it will help. Every year I run into a few that use the same roost areas night after night the way easterns do, but this is typically not the norm. He will be there for the next mornings hunt, but could be miles away the following day. You can hunt all day out there, so take advantage of it. Late morning/early afternoon can be really good. One spring a couple years ago 3 of us tagged out on consecutive days between 10:45 and 11:15 AM. I'd say probably 1 in 4 birds we have killed in the hills have been off the roost. 2 out of 4 in late morning/early afternoon, and another 1 in 4 in late afternoon. Enjoy your trip, I try to make it out there every spring. It's where I learned to turkey hunt, and still my favorite place to do it.

twofer1
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 27th, 2013, 10:47 am

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby twofer1 » January 27th, 2013, 7:09 pm

Thanks for the advice gopherlongbeards! We are sure looking forward to it! Did you take a 4 wheeler? Is there any need to take one?
"Yeah,......It's that important!"

User avatar
Treerooster
 
Posts: 652
Joined: May 5th, 2008, 3:48 am
Location: Colorado

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby Treerooster » January 27th, 2013, 9:04 pm

Merriams gobble regularly in the evening (morning too of course) and I like to use a coyote howler in the evening if they aren't gobbling on their own to try and locate a flock. You can even use it to help pinpoint a gobbler. I like one made by Haydel, its loud, light, little, and not to expensive. They will gobble well after sunset, sometimes up to 45 minutes or more after. Roosting is important to me as they can be spread out a bit and its nice to be at least close to one in the morning.

They will also gobble early in the morning too. Very common for them to start 45 minutes before sunrise and I have heard them much earlier too, especially on claer moonlit mornings.

Most times the Merriams I hunt are roosted close to the hens. The whole flock withtin 100 to 150 yards of each other. Might be a few birds off one directin, usually jakes, but most time they are together.

If you have nothing to go on in the morning get up high so you can hear well in several directions.

Binos can help you locate a flock sometimes.

20 mph winds are just another day at the office for Merriams. It takes about a 30 mph or better to get them to seek shelter from the wind.

Each situation is different but don't be afraid to call to a Merriams. Hens too.

Practice judging distance when you get there. The different terrain may cause you to misjudge.
As far as this turkey thing......I know enough...to know enough...that I don't know enough

User avatar
Gopherlongbeards
 
Posts: 632
Joined: March 16th, 2011, 4:03 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby Gopherlongbeards » January 27th, 2013, 11:39 pm

We typically do not use 4 wheelers, preferring to walk in. There are enough forest roads to get you within a mile or two of just about anywhere you want to go. Treerooster is right about the early and late gobbling. It's not uncommon for them to start an hour before flydown.

User avatar
turkey junky
 
Posts: 745
Joined: June 25th, 2011, 4:46 pm
Location: I.G.H. MINNESOTA

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby turkey junky » January 28th, 2013, 7:55 am

never hunted SD merriams but i have harvested a few merriams in my day i to will be in SD this spring to hopfully get my SD merriams out the way !!! wish me luck guys!!! all the merriams i have tagged were in MTN type hill county very similar to the black hills the guys above are write about the traits they will gobble into the dark hours both B4 & after dark so get up early to hunt & stay out late to roost!!! hunting all day is a must for me in merriams country most lazy road hunters give up early after they get beat up by the birds off the roost just hang in there...

whats you eastern turkey hunting habitat like in ILL??? if you are a field edge & crop waste grain type SIT & WAIT pop up blind only type hunter & not a very mobile stay with the birds type hunter you may be in trouble??? if you are used to hunting big oak woods or heavy woods type cover with small openings & maybe bluffs & creek type hunting with big woods all around you & a more nomadic type bird u will be in luck they are very similar...

merriams in my opinion are the most nomadic of the sub species a little more the a rio grande in my eyes they will hit the ground running & just keep moving all day for what seems like no reason there is no crops or real food source or particular roost tree that holds the birds in 1 specific place for very long its all the same big ponderosa woods & hills & creeks that ridge is the same as that ridge so the can be here 1 day & there the next stay mobile... the terrain is your biggest enemy in MTN merriams country huge hills & rocky cliff faces with only goat & deer trail to guide you the bird love em!!!

no need for a ATV or road hunting it only buggers up the birds for the rest of us hunters going out there... i have never hunted SD black hills for that reason to many roads & ATV riders that can tote rifles that makes for some road hunting & im not in hanging out the window or ATV & yelping study a map B4 hand find a peace of land a mile or so off the road get there way early to hold down a spot & get away from homes & have fun...

a major difference is how much time a merriams will spend in a give n area threwout the day to me a eastern will maybe spend a lot of time in some fav spots he feels comfortable & can be predictable in that way not so for a merriams he dose have fav spots but ive seen them run from spot to spot gobbling & i guess trying to get me to come to his fav spot for a quick e??? like i said they are they are very nomadic just wondering around the big woods thats my very least type of bird to hunt as they are hard to pattern... like treerooster said many times merriams gobblers will be around hens as 1st yr young merriams hens dont breed most the times so you will have to deal with hens most the time at least in my hunts & ive hunted them well into may like the last wk of may wear they had 2-3 hens still with em...

for the most part the terrain will make it kinda simple to make a move on birds sometimes so dont be afraid to go to the birds i have had little success calling merriams long beards all the way to me & i can run a call better the some... that may be cuz im hunting public land hit very hard B4 i get to hunt it but then again you can & will find the write bird if you do a little work & cover ground... they are not as EASY as the magazines & videos & PROs make it seem in my eyes to me you have to make about 2-4 set ups on a bird B4 you may get him to come running in like a kamikaze!!! then again you may get a bird to come from a mile away so???

hope some of this helps & by the way they are the most beautiful of the sub species & live in some of the most beautiful terrain & habitat you will ever hunt a turkey in so do enjoy your hunt & please let us all know how you all did on your trip...

p.s. get your tag & a good BHNF MAP prior to your hunt... get you tag B4 hand as you cant buy a tag OTC any place but in 1 office in PIERRE or on-line or buy paper app at least 2 wks B4 your hunt... & get a map as you dont want to get lost many eastern hunters coming from back east say that you can get mixed up very EZ in the black hills but i really dont think that will be the case just get on a high spot & get your barrings together & head on back to your vehicle but if your not used to the area & or hunting large tracts of woods/land get a map & or a GPS/compass ETC... also stay out the low low ranch type lands with a huge turkey population if you want a true snow white true merriams bird as there is some hybrids & or cream/tan/buff/brown color birds in some places so watch out... just read the paper they send with you paper apps & its the 1st yr they say that the black hills region of the state holds MOSTLY MERRIAMS SUB SPECIES it always said the black hills region ONLY HAS MERRIAMS in the past so at least there being honest now days...

safe hunting... & dont disappear on us after your hunt let us know how you do... i will do the same...

twofer1
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 27th, 2013, 10:47 am

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby twofer1 » January 29th, 2013, 8:34 am

Thanks for all of the great advice guys! Really looking forward to it. Sounds more like my style. I am not really the sit and wait guy......Even here in the midwest, I would rather run and gun, find a hot bird and then see how close I can get before setting up. Usually works out for me. Already ordered my tags. We will have a gun and an archery tag. Does anyone know when they send them out? Already got some MAPS, but need to find more detailed one. Thanks again! any real snake issues in SD?
"Yeah,......It's that important!"

User avatar
Gopherlongbeards
 
Posts: 632
Joined: March 16th, 2011, 4:03 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby Gopherlongbeards » January 29th, 2013, 10:32 am

They are typically pretty quick in getting you the tags. Mine usually showed up within a week of ordering them, but that was in Feb/March. No need to be too concerned with snakes up in the hills. There are a few rattlers up there, but very very rare. I have never seen one. Down in the prairie units however, snakes can be a problem. Again, just be smart about it. Be aware of where you're walking and pay special attention to rockey areas on south facing slopes. Depending on when you hunt, if it's been a cool spring they may still be denned up. Stay away from the prairie dog towns.

twofer1
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 27th, 2013, 10:47 am

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby twofer1 » January 29th, 2013, 11:16 pm

Good info to have! Thanks again!
"Yeah,......It's that important!"

User avatar
turkey junky
 
Posts: 745
Joined: June 25th, 2011, 4:46 pm
Location: I.G.H. MINNESOTA

Re: advice on SD merriams

Postby turkey junky » January 29th, 2013, 11:34 pm

great my prairie unit in SD i want to hunt has a large prairie dog town located threwout the county!!! better watch my step a gopher???

BHNF maps are like 15$-20$ & well worth the money u should order 1 on-line prior to your hunt to study it & pick out a spot to start but they do sell them through out the hills at different places mainly the NF HQs or tourist info centers correct gopher???

Next

Return to Strategies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 4 guests

cron