May 10, 2009: Our last day hunting was an exciting one. We started out hearing three toms gobbling just before day break. Richard had decided at the truck that we would carry decoys into the field and set up in a strut zone where he had seen the tom cross that he shot at earlier in our hunt. He actually had tracked that tom right through there on an earlier hunt. We trekked to our spot as quickly as possible, having to negotiate some pretty steep hills. Richard set up the decoys; a tom, a breeding hen and a grazing hen. We sat back on our stools under a group of small cedar trees. We were not there ten minutes when a tom gobbled in a lower terrace. The ghost of the gobbler past—just taunting Richard. Two other toms answered back from the area just right of us and over the hill. That was a great sound. Our spirits started to rise a little as a smile crept over my face. Shortly after that Richard had told me to be ready because that tom could come over the hill anywhere in front of us.
The tom flew down and gobbled about five more times before we heard him gobbling down further in the terrace. After about 30-45 minutes Richard said he heard him gobble way off, but we still were not sure because we had heard those over the hill to the right of us right after daybreak. After about an hour we headed up over the hill to see if we could glass any toms down below. We didn’t see anything. We finally decided to walk over to the next bluff and sit for a while to see if we could hear anything. About 8:30 a.m. we were no longer hearing anything. We walked back to our original hunting spot to collect the decoys.
We decided to go over to Saw Mill Bluff which was just across the valley to scout that area. We would have to come down from this mountain and trek up the next to get there. Richard had spent some time the evening before exploring it on Google Earth. That was definitely a hike in and it was all uphill. I had to stop several times, but was bound and determined not to give up. I can honestly say, half way up that mountain, I once again started to question my sanity. What in the world was I thinking–out of shape, out of breath and at this point, out of energy. Once we were up there, we found some real pretty areas. We stayed up there several hours scouting and came down a different way than we came up. Richard was pleased with what he saw so he was planning on hunting up there in the afternoon. He decided he was going to take the express climb up that the GPS helped us find on our way down.
We had not planned on staying in the field all day but after hearing all three toms in the morning, it helped us catch our second wind and we decided to stick it out stay in the field. We ate what items I had packed in the backpack that morning; which were few since we had not planned on being in the field the entire day. When we headed out to our afternoon hunting spots, separated from each other, we made plans to check in via Walkie Talkie at 6:30 p.m. to see if either of us had seen anything.
I sat for about an hour at the base of the cedar trees that we started out hunting in the morning. I didn’t hear anything for the entire hour. I decided I would get up and walk to the other side of the bluff only about a quarter mile away but equivalent to walking a mile because of the terrain. I made several crow calls but heard nothing.
I found a nice big rock to sit on as I contemplated my next move. I was looking out over a beautiful valley where we had hunted on our first hunt and decided to just sit a while and take in the sight. As I sat there, I started thinking about how grateful I should be for my health-to be able to trek to these heights, my husband, friend and mentor-to guide me and give me the courage needed to even attempt such feats, for my job-for the financial stability to have been able to be here in Montana, and the good Lord-for creating such a beautiful place to behold so dear in my memories. After about 45 minutes I decided to make the trip back to my hunting spot, taking it slow and glassing the fields, bluffs, and noles along the way. I sat down in my original hunting spot at 6:10 p.m.; twenty minutes from check-in time.
I started to fight the sun soaking into my sore, tired muscles and bones and quickly found myself nodding. I glanced one more time at my watch; it was 6:25 p.m. I sat quietly looking at the terrain for any movement as I thought to myself….I may not have succeeded in achieving my Grand Slam this year, but I got extremely close and gained so much along the way. I had some great experiences in the field and made some great friends on the journey. I learned alot about myself; mostly that once I was determined, I was driven, I was bound and determined and a steep mountain may have put me through the test…but in the long run, it may have taken me a little longer to get to the top—but I made it there. The hours spent in the field and the hours spent digesting every thing I could about turkey hunting made this quest one I will never forget. I reached into my backpack, picked out my Walkie Talkie, hit the button, and said “Hey, can you hear me?” When Richard replied I told him I didn’t see anything and asked where he was. He said he didn’t see or hear anything either and asked if I wanted him to come get me. I told him “No, I will be there in a minute.” I stood, looked up at the sky then across the woods in front of me, and said until next year Mr. Tom and turned to trek back to the truck, once again like at the end of every season, with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face!!
I have to admit that turkey is my favorite game to hunt–mostly because it is extremely challenging and such an interactive hunt. We will, no doubt, continue this quest next year. We have plans to hunt a Merriam the first of the season next year in hopes of completing our Grand Slam. Then we discussed hunting Goulds in our quest for a Royal Slam…. and who knows, if time and money permits….. we will try our luck at hunting an Oscellated to complete the ultimate–a World Slam. Dreams and goals…. isn’t this what drives us and, once achieved, makes us truly happy to the core of our being?
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009