Friday, May 11, 2007

Make Mine a Merriam's

Northeastern WY. Great country to hunt: high meadows and deep canyons.

This longbeard (21 lbs./9-1/4" beard/sub-1" spurs) first came silently to the calls just behind this setup location, then spit, drummed and gobbled on a small grassy flat at the top of a canyon embankment, but just over the edge--couldn't see him at that point. Only heard the bird strutting there--pfft, dum, pfft, dum--after spinning around when he first gobbled at my slate's yelps. After slipping out of my turkey vest, I then made a S-L-O-W three-yard slither to the canyon edge (10-15 minutes?). Rem 870 ever ready in the event his head and neck appeared, I raised up slowly as the spitting and drumming faded. What, no bird?

It strutted slightly lower than I imagined. My buddy, the NWTF's own Jonathan Harling, sat at another tree some 20-25 yards away, and sensing the situation, kept the bird gobbling so that I could fix it in my radar. Creeping closer inch by inch, again I heard the spitting and drumming, and eased maybe another yard closer behind some deadfall. Sweet tension that was. I then saw the full fan there just ten yards away, the gobbler's head facing away as I'd hoped, obscured by his tail feathers.

His skinny jake buddy (had no idea HE was there) looked on like some alarmed butler in a bad PBS drama, and I thought that shortbeard would nail me. I clucked just then, the longbeard's head periscoped up, and I dropped him with the Winchester extended-range load of 5s (not exactly what Win Ammo had in mind with this long-range shell, eh).

Strutter down.

Game over? Not just yet. The greeny strut zone was slightly tilted--fine when the gob was erect and strutting there--and I helplessly watched as the dead bird slowly rolled by gravity, then slide-bounced down the canyon wall. You can bet I made like a Gen-X snowboarder (dirt and rock in this case), vaulting down the embankment to the turkey.

Under two hours later--down in a canyon below that high meadow--Harling pulled in another gobbler with his box calling. As mentioned in the previous post, that one creaked the camp scale at 24 lbs., and won the camp pool.

--Steve Hickoff

(Steve Hickoff photo)