2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

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Jellyhead
 
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2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby Jellyhead » June 19th, 2012, 10:51 am

To keep the spirit of the 2012 Spring season going, I've convinced a good friend of mine (my turkey-hunting mentor) to start planning for the Grand Slam quest next year with a Spring hunt for Montana Merriam's. Although my friend has hunted turkey in NY for 20 years, this will be the first time he has left his home ground.

We want to do this as a DIY hunt, staying in the Billings to Hardin area, getting out there with enough time before the opener to do some scouting, and get the necessary permission to hunt (starting now). I've heard there are some good guided operations in the Roundup area, but was wondering whether anyone on the board has some experience out there they could share, specifically whether anyone has hunted using Block Management access.

On another note, I've come across some opinions that the right way to approach the Grand Slam is to only hunt the birds in their historical range. That seems a little too purist to me, but I'd appreciate getting everyone's opinion on this.

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Treerooster
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby Treerooster » June 21st, 2012, 9:08 am

Jellyhead wrote:On another note, I've come across some opinions that the right way to approach the Grand Slam is to only hunt the birds in their historical range. That seems a little too purist to me, but I'd appreciate getting everyone's opinion on this.


I have an opinion on that. :D

I'm not much in to the slam thing. Somebody draws a line in the dirt and says this bird on this side of the line is different from the one on that side. Doesn't make much sense to me. From what I have read, Dwain Bland was one of the originators of the Grand Slam and to him it was about hunting and experiencing the different terrain and habitats the wild turkey is found in. And that IS something I like to do.

I read a lot about guys coming out to get "their Merriams". They go to an area that is basically farm/ranch land with trees along creeks and woodlots and get the white tipped bird. A place that is probably similar to where they got their rio and maybe even where they hunt easterns. I can't help but think they are missing the experience of hunting in the western mountains. The Ponderosa Pine forest that Merriams are found in is an absolutely beautiful place and there is plenty of N'tl forest land to hunt in lots of states that hold Merriams. It is a different type hunt for sure. There are no crop fields that tell where the birds will feed. There are plenty of trees for the birds to roost in so you will have to find them. You will need some orienteering skills to be able to get around.......a 1000 acres is just a spit of land out here :D .

The rub is you may come away empty as hunting Merriams in the hills can be a bit more difficult and the weather can be a wild card. But you will come away with a different experience. I have a lot of opportunity to travel and hunt and realize that for some a trip like this may be once in a lifetime deal and one would want to stack the odds for success. Still, I just think some hunters are missing a great experience.

Just a thought for you to consider.
As far as this turkey thing......I know enough...to know enough...that I don't know enough

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Bobbyparks
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby Bobbyparks » June 21st, 2012, 10:30 am

I tend to agree with what Gary states here.

I did the single season Grand Slam thing once and really the Florida leg of that was a last minute opportunity. It's kind of neat to say you've done it and Florida was neat and different and had a great hunt............But...it was not that much different than the river swamp I hunted in Ga.

For at least 9 of the past 10 years I've taken Easterns, Rios, and Merriams....for a 3/4 Slam :)

Thats probably is all I'll do from now on.

Almost all of my travel time is now spent hunting the Merriams.....I love the white tip birds...but mostly...I love the west and the ground they inhabit...

If Rios or Osceoals or Easterns inhabited the western ground...thats where I'd prefer to chase em

So as far as what the basis or quality or true Grand Slam is?...It's probably debatable and a matter of opinion and I'll respect what others percieve or want it to be.


The enjoyment and value for me is hunting the western terrain and the adventure that comes with it as Gary touched on. He lives in the middle of it and one day I hope to do the same thing.


No offense intended towards anyone in the east but if you ever hunt Montana, Wyoming, Idaho or any of the "western" states...when it comes to land nothing else is the same....but I'll add when it comes to gobbling...nothing touches our Eastern gobble

For me its more about the experinence......not just taking a particular bird
Last edited by Bobbyparks on June 21st, 2012, 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dewey
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby dewey » June 21st, 2012, 2:59 pm

I always shake my head when a person or a group of people try to push their own opinion on everyone. If someone wants to hunt turkeys on their 'historic' range fine by me but if another hunter wants to hunt turkeys in another area that is also fine by me. I enjoyed hunting this spring in a different state for a different species in a different terrain than I am normally accustomed to. I think like others have said it is fun and challenging to hunt game in different terrain as you challenge yourself.

Good luck hunting in MT as it is a beautiful state.

Dewey
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mahatma Gandhi

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer

       

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onpoint
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby onpoint » June 24th, 2012, 6:34 am

I've hunted NE Kansas hill country (Flint Hills) for the last 10 yrs.and y'all are right. Huntin' in a different environment is totally awesome. I've had great success there, but the way you guys have described the "experience" has got me thinkin' 'bout tryin' my luck further west :roll:
"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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Jellyhead
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby Jellyhead » June 27th, 2012, 9:18 pm

Thanks everyone, for your take on the issues in my original post. If anything, all your comments have reinforced my resolve to get out to Montana next Spring, and spend some time refocusing on the "where" of the trip,in addition to the "what" and "how". Being honest with myself, my orienteering skills leave something to be desired, particularly when it comes to the big spaces out west- but the way you all referred to the Merriam's, the habitat, and the terrain (not to mention the photos in your recent posts) makes me want to think a little more deeply about how we undertake this trip. As I had mentioned, one of the highlights of this trip will be to get my good friend out of NY for a first time turkey hunt out west, and the thought of sharing this experience with him, and the stories we'll come back with are something to look forward to (and he is about as excited as you all are about hunting the Merriam's).

I'll also say I found it interesting how each of you focused in your own way on the central point of hunting our favorite bird in wild and beautiful places, on their terms. This turkey-hunting fraternity is an interesting bunch!

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turkey junky
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby turkey junky » July 10th, 2012, 4:04 pm

dear jellyhead if you would fall into the only hunting each sub species in its own historic range then MT would be out of the question for you all as the merriams sub species is only native to AZ,NM,CO in north america & id assume in MX all the merriams in MT are non native to the state of MT so... i tend to lean on the hunting each sub species in & on its own historic range & or habitat like treerooster mentioned merriams sub species spells ponderosa pine trees & MTNs for a lot of us... i dont like big woods turkey hunting so if & when i go back to MT i will be on creeks & far away from the ponderosa pine forests been there done that them creek bottum turkeys are a little more EZ to locate & move on & less hills in general... lol

to be honest man you may want to re think the montana thing especially in the SE region & even worse the roundup are i looked into that area myself & in the last 3 yrs the area has been logged off then had major forest fires then it flooded the last 2 yrs so take that info for what its worth... also you should talk to a region 7 biologist both the wild turkey & upland game bird biologist even the NWTF biologist for that region & you & your buddy may want to rethink your hole MT trip... ive been there to SE MT & id have to say look into the black hills region you can hunt in like 3-4 states in short drive & time...

PM me about the hole block management thing... i have a little info as i was going to go back to MT this last spring season but i had to cancel after talking to biologists in the area... needless to say the bird numbers are way way down in lots of areas of region 7 the SE part of the state...

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turkey junky
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby turkey junky » July 10th, 2012, 4:08 pm

for me bobby & i know you have hunted some of them screaming merriams the merriams gobble is the best there is 4 me the high pitch & just a scream man i love them gobbles!!! the 26+ pound easterns we have in MN & WI will shake you to peaces when they gobble in your face but that screaming merriams gobble in your face you will never forget!!! also after hunting oklahoma rios this past season i could not tell the difference in the gobbles very much

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turkey junky
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby turkey junky » July 11th, 2012, 11:35 am

even the kansas rios i hunted last season had a very similar gobble to our easterns if you want to hear different sounding gobbles merriams is the most unique & then the osceola gobble i think i may have herd in florida had no base in his voice very much like how southern crows sound way way different then our up north MN upper mid west crows them southern crows have no base in there voice & sound different then up many other crows ive herd same with the osceola gobble they say the sound comes from the breast spunge & the more breast sponge there is the deeper the gobble??? so???

any way back to turkeys i agree & dis agree with what treerooster said about not being into the grand slam for the hole drawing lines in the sand/dirt & saying if you cross that line then you shot this sub species & if you cross this line you shot this sub species thats is B/S if you ask me many hunters now days go to hybrid areas of the county wear you never know what sub species will look like B4 he comes in be it a rio looking bird or a merriams looking bird or a eastern then once they shoot a bird they call it what ever sub species it looks most like??? not cool & not a true representation of a true bird of any particular sub species so i recomend hunting in at least areas of the country wear you dont have to worry about if the bird comeing to your gun barrel is a hybrid or not...

the only proublum you will have with that is the osceola sub species turkey they have wrecked hunting for that sub species by doing what treerooster said drawing imagineary lines in the sand & saying north of this is easterns & south of here is osceolas when 20 yrs ago that line was much farther south & in the true osceolas range south florida around lake okkeechobee & south is tru old school osceola country not just south of the NWTFs imagineary B/S line they maid up to make it more EZ to obtaine a grand slam... each to there own & hunt wear you want to but thats my 2 cents pick wear you want to hunt carefully & talk to some biologist to get a feel for the state you end up wanting to hunt

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Jellyhead
 
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Re: 2013 Spring Turkey in Montana

Postby Jellyhead » July 12th, 2012, 10:30 am

Well, I'm going to look forward to hearing those Merriams in person next May!

TJ, I sent you a pm about your experiences in Montana last year, but your comments on historical range, hybrids, etc., makes me think I'll be worrying less about the slam, and more about enjoying being with good friends, and hunting my favorite gamebird in one of my favorite places in the world.

Following up on what some of you mentioned about hunting the ponderosa pine forest, I came across some information on hunting the Custer National Forest. Am I on the right track?

Thanks again for everyone's perspectives and good tips.

Mike

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