Sorry for the super late post. Been swamped lately but here is this years turkey season. The short version.
Turkey season is one of my favorite hunting seasons and other than shed hunting, I really canít imagine a better spring sport. This spring was like many others that Iíve had in the past, except the fact that this was my last spring in my home town for a while. As I mentioned in my first post, Iím moving out of my home town to finish college and I quickly realized the harsh reality that this was my last spring turkey season where I would have the luxury of only being 30 min from the turkey country.
I had high expectations going into the new season due to a stellar turkey season last year. Those high expectations were quickly met with a very action packed opening youth weekend! My younger brother is still a youth and has the opportunity to hunt the weekend before the opening day of turkey season in New Mexico.
We couldnít hunt the Saturday of youth weekend because my little brother had a baseball game but we planned on hunting a local ďhoney holeĒ for that Sunday. We started hiking right at day break and couple miles into our hike we finally heard some gobbles. We closed the distance to where we thought they might come in. After a 30 min setup of calling back and forth, we finally catch a glimpse of a turkey. It was actually 6 jakes that came into 15 yards. My little bro elected to pass on the shot and wait for a more mature bird. The rest of the day was somewhat slow with nothing answering our calls. That was until on our way back to the truck my little bro spotted to what looked like 2 gobblers feeding in an opening. Almost an exact repeat from last yearís youth weekend. I knew that these birds were going to be hard to call in so we elected that my little brother should attempt a stalk on these birds. Not long after he disappeared, we heard a shot, immediately followed up by another shot. A few minutes pass and my dad and I were surprised by the sight of my brother walking back with a gobbler in each hand.
Over the last few seasons my buddy, Manuel, had witnessed me call birds into breathing distance and last season he finally decided to get a tag himself. For some odd reason we had the worst luck last season. Every time he would tag along with me last year, the birds wouldnít cooperate! Little did we know that this year was going to be completely opposite.
Opening day of New Mexicoís spring Turkey season found myself waking up to heavy winds and light rain followed by a text message from my buddy, Manuel, checking to see if our plans stayed the same considering the new, unpronounced weather. Despite the curveball Mother Nature threw at us, we decided to stick it out and see if we could strike up a bird. We parked well before daylight at this one high point where we like to listen for gobblers off the roost. Surprisingly, the weather was quite calm with nothing more than a heavy overcast. About half an hour passed with nothing other than a coyote sounding off in the near distance. We decided to drive to another call point to see if we could locate a bird. We arrived at call point number 2 and parked for another 20 minutes only to hear nothing but dead silence. At this point I had 2 theories running through my head. 1) The youth hunters either pressured or killed all the birds in the area or 2) The weather was playing a factor in their silence.
We decided to drive up the road to other high points in hopes of locating turkeys. After a few more call points with no responses to our calls we decided to just look for a spot to put in a good morning hike. Not long after getting back in the truck and driving down the road we jumped a flock on the road with a strutting gobbler. Iím not normally one to road hunt but I wasnít about to let these birds get away so I grabbed my shot gun and by the time I broke open the single shot to puta shell in, they were gone! These turkeys were totally unresponsive to our calls because our last call point was no more than 150 yards from where we busted the flock on the road. There was nothing we could do in that situation so we just kept on our way. We ran into a big snow drift so we turned around and drove back to where we busted the flock on the road and parked. I got off and walked around to see their tracks and was toying with the idea of hiking down where we last saw them disappear into the timber just to see if we could run across them again. At the same time as I was thinking this, I got my box call and threw some very loud yelps. A gobbler instantly responded and my buddy and I ran back to the truck to get our shotguns. I couldnít believe one gobbled right where we spooked that flock on the road. We distanced ourselves from the truck and started calling. The gobbler was hitting every one of my calls and for a moment it sounded like he was committed to us. This was until I hear my buddyís phone go off playing music. It was his alarm for work. Being that opening day fell on Friday, a week day, he still had his work alarm on and forgot to turn it off. He quickly shuts it off and after a brief silence, I start calling again. The gobbler didnít respond to me until my 3rd call and he was on another distant ridge. We decide to walk down the main road from where we originally came as I was continuously calling at him. He definitely wasnít as responsive but he was still gobbling back. After about 30-45 min pass by of playing marco-polo with him, he completely shuts up. We continue to walk down during this complete silence and I call down the canyon to where we last heard him. He immediately gobbles and heís right above us approximately 50 yards but we canít see him because heís right over this small lip. We hunker down, hugging the rocky side of the road. I call one more time and he gobbles back right away and at this time weíre so close I could hear him spitting and drumming. I knew he was coming in so I whispered to my buddy Manuel ďGet ReadyĒ. The strutting gobbler walked right on top of the lip and my buddy Manuel swings his shotgun and caught the gobbler coming off of the lip into a small opening and shot him at about 8 yards. What a crazy series of events!
After a couple weeks pass by with little to no action, mostly due to bad weather, my dad and I decided to try some higher country in a familiar area that we knew held birds. I had really high expectations for this area. Especially late in the season when the hens leave the gobblers to go nest. This usually means that these gobblers were going to be alone and absolutely love sick!
We started hiking well before daybreak to get to this one old roost site where we to listen for gobblers sounding off in the dawn. As we approached the roost we couldnít help but be a bit surprised that there were no turkeys sounding off anywhere near us. My dad and I just kept on hiking and occasionally calling, trying to get a bird to answer. About a mile more into our hike, we finally heard the first gobble of the morning. He was a long way off so we covered most of the distance and begun to set up and call. We knew he still had hens because he wasnít paying much attention to our calls and only answering 1 out of every 6 calls. After waiting over half and hr, his hens finally had enough and took him away.
On our way back to the truck we couldnít believe what we were hearing. It was a very hot gobbler sounding off. He was double gobbling and sometimes even triple gobbling. We immediately set up and it didnít take long for him to come in. Shot him under 15 yards as he was just coming out of strut.
We finally got back to the truck and decided to check one more spot up higher on the road before we left. Sure enough we found one gobbling! Same situation as the bird I had just got! Another super hot alone gobbler. My dad took his shotgun and made his way down to where the gobbler last sounded off and set up. I think I threw maybe 2 sets of calls and the bird came running in half strut. I see my dad raise up his shotgun and fire off a round. Bird #2 of the day!
The next week we were off to Colorado! I had a few points saved up from a few years back and planned on using them a while back until a wildfire changed our plans. Here we are a few years later and I cashed in my points to draw a limited entry spring turkey tag in Colorado. We were somewhat familiar with area and I had a good idea where the turkeys would be. WellÖ lets just say it took us a bit longer to locate birds but we finally found them.
We were working our way up this deep canyon when we herd what we thought were 2 gobblers sounding off. Sure enough these 2 gobblers come in strutting to our calls. I though they came in very quick and wasnít ready for them. Only my brother and my dad had a clear view of the birds. It just so happened that during all the commotion a hen came in from the bottom of the canyon and took both of them with her.
After that very unfortunate mishap we decided to make our way up the road and try and locate another gobbler. It didnít take us long to strike one up. I made sure that I was going to be ready for this one. I set up on the edge of this small opening while my dad and little brother started to call behind me. This gobbler was very cautious. He finally appeared but he didnít want to break timber. I specifically remember looking at him through my binos as he strutted back and forth, refusing to come out into the open. After about 10-15 minutes he finally came out and committed to the call. I couldnít have asked for a more perfect setup! I let him come into 10 yards before he caught sight of my muzzle swinging toward him but it was too late for him to escape. What an incredible hunt and it couldnít have been in more beautiful country!