I hunt the Ponderosa Pine hills a lot for Merriam’s. I have hunted once in NM and several years in SW Colo, but it was a long time ago. I hunt more up north now in the states of SD, WY, MT and NW Neb. So with that in mind….
The mountainous Ponderosa Pine habitat is a beautiful place to hunt turkeys. Just being in that type of country is a great experience, and hunting turkeys there makes it all the more special.
I like to always have a box call with me. Wind is usually a daily occurrence and you can call pretty loud on a box when needed. 15 to 20mph winds are just another day at the office for Merriam’s turkeys. When the wind gets up around 30 though, look for them in areas sheltered from the wind.
Sign is very important to me when hunting Merriam’s in the mountains. They tend to roam a lot and fresh sign can tell you they are somewhere close by. Tracks and scat are what I pay attention to most, but you may also find a few feathers. Many areas don’t reveal tracks too readily so just a couple of tracks will get my attention.
Roosting is important to me because if I find a flock I know where to start in the morning. A I said before the Merriam’s I hunt tend to roam, they can be here today and ½ mile or even a mile over there tonight. I get to a high point at roost time to try and hear birds gobble. If I hear some I head towards them to get a better fix on their location. If I haven’t heard anything I use a coyote howler when I think the birds are in the trees already. Merriam’s usually respond well to a coyote howler, especially when they are safely in a tree. If I still have not located any birds by morning I get up high well before dawn where I can hear and listen for some gobbles. I may use a box call to start a bird if they are not gobbling on their own. Merriam’s gobble very regular in the morning, and the evening too for that matter.
I like to camp “in country” and I use a wall tent . The tent has plenty of room to move around in and has a woodstove for heat. I eliminate a lot of travel time and expense since I don’t stay in a motel. The woodstove makes the tent warm and comfortable when the weather turns for the worse.
I rarely if ever use a blind in Merriam’s country. I’d rather be more mobile and find the birds first, and then get in position to try and call a gobbler in. I have binos with me and will glass for birds whenever I top a ridge or can just see a good ways. I find it difficult to pattern the Merriam’s turkey, they just aren’t regular enough to count on them being in the same area day after day, at least not where I hunt them. I usually have a GPS with me and a map and compass. Topo maps help me move around the area more efficiently. The compass doesn’t have any batteries to fail.
I have also done a backpack type hunt for Merriam’s. That is an adventure in itself.
So…whether you do a pack-in hunt.
Hunt them in good weather.
Or lousy weather.
Remember to enjoy the WHOLE experience…THE END
Are you PUMPED yet?