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Kicking Around Canyon Country, Part II

by Brian Lovett, editor

After dropping first Nebraska gobbler back at the Cabela’s camp, I set out with Alex Rutledge of Hunter’s Specialties for another try at canyon country longbeards.

It didn’t take long. Within an hour, we spotted a breeding flock of birds high atop a ridge and slipped around in front of them. Then, the Alex Show began.

Yelping ultra-softly in an H.S. Premium Flex diaphragm, Alex went to work on the hens in the group. It must have worked, because the girls immediately responded to his clear, subtle yelps, and the group moved steadily toward us.

After about 20 minutes, the birds seemed to stall just over a rise, but one strutter broke from his flockmates and charged in to 20 steps.

“Try to wait as long as you can stand it,” Alex whispered to me. Then, he yelped and cutt hard at the bird, sending the turkey into a close-range gobbling and strutting frenzy.

Finally, I pulled the trigger and ended the hunt, capping a great day.

“Did you notice how I called to those turkeys?” Alex said later. “I didn’t use any rasp, because that would have indicated aggression. I just went at those hens with real soft, clear yelps, trying to gain their acceptance. If I had started loud and raspy, they might not have liked it and could have moved away.”

It was a great lesson on hunting henned-up turkeys, and I couldn’t wait to try it at home. Actually, I didn’t have to wait that long to see it again, as I joined Alex the next day and watched him kill a gobbler and call one in for another hunter.

The next day, I had to hit the road back home. As I left the ranch, I crossed paths with Alex and Doug Stults of Table Mountain Outfitters and First Western Adventures. I didn’t look, but something told me there was another Nebraska Merriam’s riding in the back of their truck.

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