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Postby Bobbyparks » May 25th, 2012, 4:53 pm


Travel Day:

We left Atlanta Thursday evening at 6:55 and landed in Spokane Washington around 11:00 that night.
On the way to Priest River Idaho which would be our base, we swung by the Washington tract just so we’d know where we were headed later that morning. Got in bed at 1:30 their time (4:30 eastern time)

Day 1:

Slept for 2.5 hours and woke up at 4:00. I thought at first it must be a full moon but then realized it was already getting daylight. We hustled over to the Washington tract excited to begin the hunt. On the way over we had a hen cross the road which we took as a good sign. The property looked great, lush green fields and timber but no birds were in view. We worked down the road bordering the fields and checked out a few other areas we could see on our Google map. Did not hear a bird and had a bad feeling come over us. The weather was great and the place looked great but no sound or sign of turkey.

Drove back to town and visited the Newport Ranger Station. They tried to help us but did not seem too confident but we checked out a few places they suggested……could not strike up a turkey.

We decided to head back to Idaho and work towards Priest Lake 27 miles north of Priest River. As we drove back thru Priest River we saw 2 gobblers and several hens in an empty lot right in the middle of town near a store. We sat and watched them and even made them gobble a few times and then headed to the Ranger Station in Priest Lake. The staff there was great and indicated there were plenty of turkeys around but they didn’t seem all that confident in what they circled on our maps either.

They did warn us that 7 grizzlies were using the meadow in one place they suggested and not to walk the back of the meadow. They mentioned that most of what they had seen was on private property so we checked those out with a plan of doing some door knocking if we found birds.

We worked numerous dirt roads not only in the areas they suggested but any we could find. Drove past numerous meadows that just looked like turkeys should be in them but not a sign of a turkey. Saw a couple of moose and plenty of deer.
In all we drove out a tank of fuel and spent 15 hours searching and riding for turkeys and did not see a bird.


Next morning we got up at 3:00 and headed back to Priest Lake to see if being there earlier would make a difference. Worked our way thru and back to Priest River without hearing or seeing a thing and went to a McDonalds. What appeared to be a Grateful Dead follower was sitting at a table reading and decided he wanted to talk to us. Once we told him we were turkey hunting he made mention of a place where he thought turkeys might be. Nice guy but something was strange about him and he wanted to ride with us. We figured there was only room for two psychopaths in our truck and we didn’t want another sitting behind us while out in the middle of nowhere so we just thanked him and left.

Saw our two priest River City birds and messed with them again and headed out for the place the guy mentioned. Once we got to where he said to go there was no such road or turn off he had specified so we continued searching new roads. At one dead end we saw a house and a man in the yard so we pulled up and talked to him. We noticed he had a Glock under his shirt so of course we used our best manners. He mentioned that he had a gobbler that sometimes used his yard but mostly was across the river which was hard to get to.

We left there with a new mission which was to find a way to get to the place he said we couldn’t. After driving and probing for a few hours we found the far ridge we had seen from his place. They had been cutting timber and it had tree trash spread out all along the mountain sides. We would have to cross and go down thru this to see if we could get to the river edge. We took off and it was brutal. Once we fought our way down it was nothing but marsh so we had to begin the agony of climbing out. Can’t even describe how tough this was.

We begin driving again and followed another road to a dead end and a new ranch when we saw 6 gobblers in mans green field not far from his house. I knocked on his door and he flanked me by coming out another door and circling around. Can’t be too careful I suppose. He would not let us hunt his property but was nice…but firm about it. Told us you can hunt either of the distant ridges that bordered his property but not on his.
We spent the next 3.5 hours trying to find a way to get around and back to his property edge. We found a way but pulled out really not wanting to shoot his birds if we could find others and we would be pretty close to his house.

Decided we would make the drive to Bonners Ferry which is 20 miles south of Canada and borders Montana. While eating a burger there the lady told us we might try to get info at the Far North Sporting Goods store since the ranger Station was closed on Saturday. Two guys who were customers shared what seemed like good info and made some new marks on our maps. Told us if we saw bears to shoot up in the air and that it would turn black bears and probably grizzlies. We took off again with a little confidence and actually saw a few jakes on one private tract and a couple hens on another.

We began a walk thru a public land tract and immediately ran up on bear and wolf tracks. Still could not find any sign or hear any birds. While walking out we both started having a feeling something was watching us and then heard a twig snap. I kept my hand on my Frontiersman Bear Spray as we were on the edge of thick dark timber. As we came around a tight turn we came face to face with a grizzly that was 30’ away and he reared up and roared. I emptied the bear spray in his face and he dropped down coughing and blowing snot wads everywhere…Wesley immediately delivered a couple of bone crunching gun stock blows to his head which stunned him while I hooked around behind him and fired off a couple kicks to the groin region..tried to get him in a "rear naked choke hold" while he was stunned but my arms were'nt long enough…………….Okay….maybe this didn’t happen but this story needs something and this is what we would have done if the situation arose.

Did not hear or see a thing as it got dark and headed back to Priest River and to put our 3rd tank of gas in the truck. 16 non stop hours with nothing to show for it....actually 31 at this point

DAY 3:

Got up at 3:00 again and decided we now would go after the private lands birds and had a guess where they might be roosting. Our mission was to call them across two fences, a creek, and under the third fence and onto public land near the road we drove in on. Seemed feasible? They were where we thought they would be so we took off down a steep mountain side. About ½ way down we came to a shear drop of rock for about 8’. While I was thinking what to do Wesley’s feet slipped and he skied down the rock and landed on his feet. Having no choice I sat down and slid down as well and we set up on the birds with 35 yards between us and the fence. The birds gobbled their heads off but surprisingly would not complete the obstacle course required for us to shoot them.

We finally gave up and drove up a stretch of road and kept searching for birds and ended up back in Priest River. We pulled back up and started watching the city birds again. Now we were desperate and began contemplating going to Wal-Mart and buying a bow and arrows and shooting one of em. Worried that anything we shot might fly into the store parking lot with an arrow sticking out of it with our fingerprints kept us contemplating and we shot down the pellet rifle option as well and decided we’d have to pass on the city mascots.

We decided to run back over to Washington and try and talk to the landwoner. We did and then found out that someone had been hunting the place and had killed 3 gobblers and they had not been seeing birds for a while...that explained that so we left Washington for the final time.

We decided then we would call and change our travel plans to come back a day early. We had not seen or heard one bird on public land and had determined that there were only 8 gobblers in the state of Idaho and we were looking at two of em.

We also decided we would go back to the private land birds…..make the hike to get around to their roost site and hope we could coax one under the fence there or get one when they came to roost. This is what we were down to. We worked down a creek thru very bearish looking terrain and I kept the spray handy. At noon we set up and made a blind and spent what ended up being 8 hours with our Idaho mosquito buddies…didn’t bring a Therma cell.

The birds came pretty close and would gobble but would not drift close enough. Realized maybe we were late in season and they had grouped up and although they would gobble…..they wouldn’t come. (It should be noted we could have slaughtered these birds had we been willing to shoot thru the fence into the man’s field. But we were not about to do that)

Finally as roost time approached one of the birds that had roosted off to the side started coming and crossed the fence and came up the ridge where we were. Mr. Phelps promptly made him pay for this and after 45 hours of searching, probing, hunting, and over 2 tanks of fuel, we had a bird lying at our feet. A gorgeous bird and we at least would not come back empty handed.

This is the first time in 10 years I have been on a travel hunt and not killed a bird but surprisingly I wasn’t depressed about it. It was beautiful country and I do regret not taking more photos. Plenty of snow capped mountains and wildlife. Like I said to Wesley prior to killing the bird; You can’t find a needle in the haystack if there isn’t a needle in the haystack but we’re too crazy to know when to quit so we start looking in another stack.
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Postby onpoint » May 25th, 2012, 10:11 pm

And I thought I went to great lengths to find and harvest a bird. My experiences pale by comparison. My camp hat is off to you guys!! :shock:
"Chasin' gobblers has a lot in common with dealing with a wife, 'bout the time ya' think ya' got 'em figured out, they change the rules!!!"

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Postby onpoint » May 26th, 2012, 8:06 am

Pics to large for me to see!
"Chasin' gobblers has a lot in common with dealing with a wife, 'bout the time ya' think ya' got 'em figured out, they change the rules!!!"

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Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 26th, 2012, 10:54 am

Quite the adventure there Bobby! The bear thing would make me a bit nervous...

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Postby turkey junky » May 31st, 2012, 12:23 pm

i feel you bobby about 95% of the people i have talked to & seen on-line struck out while chase n them mountain merriams this season!!! me & my father included!!! i dont know if it was the goofy weather this season or the popularity of hunting merriams turkeys for eastern boys but them birds were tuff invisible & mute for us this season!!! we found piles of feathers at every stop we maid & every trail head!!!
so i dont know if the winter took its share of birds witch i dont think was the case or if it was hunters killing all the dummys or if they had bad brood reproduction but we drove all over from eastern WY to eastern NE & just didnt see the numbers of birds we were used to!!!???

man bobby you guys are crazy i have been to the MT ID border with B.C canada camping & trout fishing i seen turkeys all over witch was a trip for me!!! i seen moose elk & oh dont forget the black bears didnt seen grizzlie bears but my buddys wife had a pic of 3 cubs & a mother down from there drive way!!! any way i seen the same type of sign you had a pic of the black & grizzlie bear on the same sign it said hunters/hickers beware! both inhabit this area & be positive of what comes to your bear baits... they didnt want black bear hunters killing grizlzlies on accident... i dont think i could bring my-self to hunt up in that country its just to damn wild for me man!!! its a scary & BEAUTIFUL place that part of the world but you have to be ready to be a mountain man if you have to up in them mountains & i cant bring my-self to push my luck & chase turkeys in that part of the world i mean them switch back roads are no joke 1 wrong turn you are down on the bottum of a canyon/mountain!!! scary!!! also id have to pack a big hand gun out in that country mountain lions black bears & grizzlies for get that woods man!!! lol

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Postby Bobbyparks » May 31st, 2012, 4:55 pm

Turkey Junky

Lots of varibales with the Merriams...public land ..hunting earlier or later...but regardless..we struggled too for the most part

Think it depends on where you go..we did kill 5 (shot 6) in MT but the place has been hit hard by something that has all but wiped out the bird population in parts of region 7 in the prairie..river birds were okay...praiire birds may not recover for a while where we've hunted for the past 9-10 years..it was sad ..heard from some other guys that hunted in another area that Blackhead diesase had taken its toll...I don't really know what happend..only the places that always held birds were ghost towns.

As far as Idaho

I have to admit the "Bear Factor" aspect made me both nervous and excited...Hunting the western regions is always an adventure to me but being way down the food chain in this case just added excitement...had a guy stop and talk to us while we were trying to figure out where we were on a back road outside of Bonners Ferry..was riding with a rifle because 3 wolves had jusy attacked his brothers cattle and he was searching the meadows for em..no doubt was going to shoot em..we saw wolfe and bear tracks side by side

I really read up and my conclusions right or wrong were:

If you see a bear (especially a grizzly) and run..you're toast ....and that many that tried to fend off a charging grizzley with a fire arm got mauled....they panicked..did not aim well...froze and didn't shoot at all...those statistics made an impression on me....those that did not panick...stood their ground and used bear spray.....did well...the spray is some bad stuff if you can put it in their face

So I bought two cans of Frontiersman Bear spray..9 ounce cans that disperse in 5 seconds with a range of 35' (gave my buddy "Wasp & Hornet " spray...with camo tape on it..so he thought he just had a bigger can of what I had :) part of my back up plan

There were a few walks including coming out right at dark one evening without a flashlight..that I kept my hand on the spray can and was ready....Seriously..I believe I'd have stood my ground to the end mainly because I know to run etc would have been a mistake..the 2nd part of the plan was that if one of us got pinned down by a bear the other would stick the gun barrel in his ear with pressure and empty the Hevi shot and the other loads that we had in our gun besides turkey loads.

Nothing goes to plan but you have to be delusional enough to think you have one that would work.

We stayed together and it would probably be like hunting Texas..you don't worry about rattlesnakes too much until you see one and then you're on edge...if I had actually seen a grizzly..I probably would not have gotten out of the truck again :)

I loved the place and the land...but if I went again..I'd carry a side arm and the spray just to cover my bases

Something about being told by the ranger that 7 Grizzlies were using the back side of a big meadow after you've been cruising around it gets your attention
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