So this past weekend, the usual crew, Myself My brother in law and my nephew took on another hunt. Our goal this weekend at least one us wanted to come home with a Bird (a first for all 3 of us). At the very least call one in close enough to lay eyes on. This would tell us the call practicing, scouting, hours of discussing tactics was actually working. We went to one of the main spots we scouted, the mountains Northeast of Ponderosa NM. Getting there early friday we had time to gear up and head out, looking for signs of Turkeys or with some luck actually find a wandering loner looking for some late action. We logged a couple hours in the Jeep when we came across a perfect little valley, 6 yards wide on the bottom, covered in grass and a small water source running through it, we took some time to look around for the set up the next morning finding only some dried up scat, a sign none the less.
Dark and early at 4:30 the next day we gear up and head out, its a short drive from camp so were there and quiet for a good 45 mintes or so before even getting out of the Jeep. I set up in a field on the West end of the valley, My Brother in Law and Nephew head to the east end. I throw a couple of calls out as the sun rises and can swear I hear a gobble coming from down the canyon, (I was never really sure), and sitting there being silent and patient, I calll sparingly hoping to really hear that first loud gobble. After 4 hours and not a sound or sign at all we give up the ghost and head for camp for a late breakfast. In the afternoon we again head out hoping to find better sign and mybe roost a bird for the morning, again not a thing is visible anywhere, no tracks no scat, total zip. As we run into other hunters the obvious is becoming clear, the birds have moved, onto where only god knows but at this point and a good 8 hours in the Jeep in rough terrain on Saturday we are all losing our patience and drive to keep hunting.
Sunday morning I roll over in the trailer to the sun coming up, I guess the frustration got to the Bro in Law as he truned the alarm off in the middle of the night. We finally all get up around 7:30 and the plan is to move to where we got snowed out last weekend. Hooking up the trailer and loading all the gear were on the road by 10, gassing up and a quick snack its full speed to the North end of the San Pedro National Forest. We find a camp and set up before noon, wasting no time we gear up and head to the valley we found sign in just last week. set up and sit and call for a bit, Rick my brother in law thinks he geets a gobble and were pretty sure it is also. But nothing is happening so we decide to run and gun a little. there are 2 valleys running south and West out of the main valley we pick the west one and start hiking, about 200 yards up I pop in an HS Strut Derringer diaphram call and throw my best call ever out to the canyon, within seconds from the other canyon a very audible gobble comes back, and its not 3:30 and the game is on, we head back down the canyon we are in and up the one we are sure the gobbler is in, about a qurter mile up Rick tells me to start in on the calling, (he sais and I quote "remember there on Turkey time so it may be a few before he gobbles back at you"). I toss a quick yelp and BAM right back comes a gobble and He's close. I then spend the next 3 hours in meaningful discussions with what we are sure is at least 3 Toms. And one of them is hung up what has to be 100 yards away. Finally it appears all 3 have gone to roost, and we decide its time we do too.
Monday has to be the day, we all have to be back at work or school by Tuesday. We head out early right back to the spot we know they are, and within seconds of gearing up and heading up the canyon, the loud mouth is already gobbling in the roost. I set up low in the canyon Rick and my nephew head farther up to see if we can box him in when he flys down. Just at the first good light I hear him fly down, unfortunately in the other canyon behind us. We hook back up and are in pursuit not an hour later after giving him some time to maybe work around the end of his canyon into ours. Heading up the West canyon were not 100 yards in and I throuw out a cluck and yelp, bang the darn thing answers right back, but he's now crossed into the other canyon over the ridge. We high tail it abck down and I set up in the same spot, the other go up the ridge road trying to stay quiet and get ahead of him. I start calling and with every cluck and yelp he's 50 yards closer, coming back down the other side of the ridge. I have a hen decoy out in front of me at about 20 yards and I am hoping when he pops over the ridgeline he thinks his girl is waiting on him. I pop a cluck and he's now 40 feet or so directly behind me. I can also here another up the canyon where the guys are. I sit not mving a muscle in a good set up on the backside of a Huge Ponderosa, bushes to my left and right and a ground blind in front of me. I toss a quiet cluck, and the air shatters with a tremendous gobble, hes maybe 10 feet directly behind me, (My ear is still ringing from the volume). I sit patiently but someothing is wrong he wont go out into the field, after 5 minutes or so I see movement up the canyon to my right, I was busted, he's headed across the canyon 70 yards away and straight up another ridge. But he's HUGE, laer I would go to the tree he passed on the way out the branch he ducked under was at least 3 1/2 feet off the ground, and he gone. I consider it a success that I actually called a bird in that close, but were still not giving up hope, I Radio Rick and tell him theres another bird north of him but on a different trail, I am going to try an keep him talking so they can make the move to him, Between Rick and I weve got this guy madly in love and wanting a mate, I am just finishing a yelp and hear 2 blasts, and the First huge hurdle for our group is accomlished, the radio pops with unaudible ramblings but I get the point. Ricks got his first Merriam on the ground and the 3 of us are thrill, all the parctice and patience pays off.
Yeah my names Tom, guess I am a bit of a Turkey myself!