April 18, 2009: Saturday morning’s hunt started off really slow. We heard one gobble in a tree line on the edge of a creek bank we were hunting. Our guide directed us in a location just 150 yards from where we parked. He told us that the turkey feed on the creek bottom in the mornings. We set up at the base of a bush only to find out that it was a thorny bush. I was miserable from the minute we sat down. I couldn’t move without the tree grabbing something; my shirt, my hair, my hat… it was aggravating. It is funny how sometimes you can sit down and everything is just right, then other times you can sit down and you are absolutely uncomfortable and fidgety from the minute your tailbone hits the ground.
We heard a tom gobble two different times and I watched him fly down across the creek onto adjacent property. We sat for about 45 minutes longer and decided to move to another location. There was a tom gobbling up on a knoll but we never saw any birds. We walked along the edge of the trees that ran along the creek bottom but didn’t find a place we wanted to sit. We ended up sitting on a knoll hidden by sage. We were sitting on small stools with no backs so we were leaning against each other back to back and watching our respective area. We didn’t see anything. After about an hour and a half I started nodding off and I fought it for 30 minutes and then we decided to move on. We came to the conclusion that we should go back to the truck and wait on Wendy and Brian there. We were on our walk back when we spotted the other hunting party headed to the truck as well. This was a beautiful day but a disappointing morning hunt.
We drove into town to grab a quick lunch and had plans on staying out hunting the rest of the day. The pressure was on because we found out earlier that our guide was going to have to cut our hunt short a day and today would be our last hunting day. If we were going to harvest birds, we were going to have to strategize and cover some ground. Brian decided to put Wendy on a feeder knowing she would see some birds. On our way to take her to the feeder we saw a tom close to the road about 250 yards from the gate where Wendy was going in.
When our guide got back from taking Wendy to her hunting spot, he asked if we wanted to try to slip up on the tom we seen on the way in. We grabbed our gear and headed down the road. Richard went into the woods to be in a position where he could cut the turkeys off if we were to push them that way. Brian and I crawled on our hands and knees, with our back low and as quiet as possible for about 100 yards down the edge of the road where there was mud, rock, small branches. We literally had to pick our way through; Brian in the lead moving rocks as we crawled along–it was a slow go. Brian would check periodically to make sure we had not been busted and that we were still gaining on the birds.
When we were about 70 yards from the birds we stopped and watched waiting for the birds to work their way behind cedar trees and shrubs so we could crawl some more to get in a better position. We finally got within 55 yards of the birds. Brian asked me if I could see the strutting tom. I couldn’t. He said, “I see him from here, do you not see him?” I didn’t see him. I was on my knees at this point and he said if you are going to shoot, you better shoot him now. I told him that I still did not see the tom. He reached over and moved my head about 6 to 8 inches to where I was looking between a 8”x8” hole through a cedar tree at 10 yards in front of me and the tom that was 54 yards away visible through the hole. He asked can you make that shot. I said, “Yeah.” I mounted the gun and took the safety off as Brian kept saying, “Shoot him, shoot him, shoot the @&*!% gun.” I did not let that rush my shot; I took aim, lined up the bead where I knew to shoot at that yardage and squeezed the trigger. I didn’t see the bird get hit because of the small window of visibility I had, but Brian jumped up and took out after the bird. He walked to the edge of the field and waited as the other birds took out toward the direction Richard was in. Within a few minutes I saw Brian walking up to the fence with a beautiful Rio Grand tom. The tom was a young bird and I joked with Richard that I guess since I am a new hunter I am achieving my Grand Slam in baby steps. I was ecstatic with this bird, he was beautiful. And even more so, I was proud of the shot that I took. I was comfortable with the 52-54 yard distance with the gun/choke/shell combination I was using but the real challenge was the small window I had to shoot through to get the perfect shot.
We left that area around 2:50 p.m. headed to a new spot for Richard to hunt in. The guide was going to drop us off and we would hunt on our own as Brian had some errands to do before having to leave the next morning. It didn’t take us long to find a spot. Richard and I set up at the base of a cedar tree in a man-made blind. Richard let out some calls and a gobble came from in front of us about 100 yards away. A little later the gobble sounded like it was going away from us. Richard patiently waited about 10 minutes then let out some more calls and got two gobbles in response. He hit the calls a few more times and it was evident the toms were coming our way. Finally, three toms came from the edge of the tree line. Richard patiently waited for the tom of his choice to come within shooting range. He put the bead on the one he chose and within a matter of seconds we were running out to his harvest. Richard’s bird was also a Rio Grande. We high-fived and took a few pictures. I called the guide and asked him to swing by and pick us up before he headed back to town. Richard’s hunt was short and sweet and it got the job done.
Unfortunately, Wendy did not see any birds the entire 4 hours she sat on the feeder. I made it back to camp in time to make my 7:30 p.m. appointment to join in on episode 106 of the Up North Journal call in talk show. (www.upnorthjournal.com) We decided since we were not flying out until Monday and we would have the entire next day to sightsee, we headed to Kansas City and went to Cabelas on Sunday. We enjoyed our shopping time there and it is probably a good thing that we were flying so I had a real reason NOT to buy anything big.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009