One of my favorite outdoor pursuits is chasing turkeys in the high country during their spring breeding season. Merriam’s are Colorado natives and they inhabit some beautiful country…country that also has my greenbacks, another Coloradoan. It’s taken me 12 years of trial and error (& being schooled) but I now know where they’ll be during the peak of their breeding cycle…this isn’t a guarantee bird on the BBQ as turkeys are turkeys and as you’re well aware can be difficult to bag! Turkeys do whatever the heck they want.
The first two weeks of the season I saw very limited sign at the snowline…even talked to the local fish and game warden. His opinion was there were great turkey numbers this year and they were still below on private property. He was correct!
Saturday the 22nd of April at 0’dark-30 I was in the turkey woods listening to 7 or 8 different toms reveling in the nearby Ponderosas. I scrambled up the ridge to the snowline where there’s a flat area I know the birds love to strut. I’ve scared many a strutting tom off this area in the afternoons in previous seasons. I planned to sit there all day. I heard another tom up above the snowline as the sun started to peek up in the East. By 6:30 am I was surrounded by 12 to 15 turkeys, with a tom to my right strutting for his ladies and one directly behind me spitting and drumming. Another tom was heading to my Avian X decoys to thrash my jake…however he caught my movement and turned to escape! I rapidly raised my 1937 NID Ithaca 16 bore like a fleeting quail shot and fired the right barrel and he took off running so I fired the left full-choked barrel as he disappeared. I sat against the ponderosa awe-struct with a sickening depression weighing upon me. I had just blown the only chance I’d get today. I texted my brother Andy and our good friend Troy that I had just missed a nice tom with both barrels…then I texted Tyler Sessions and my wife the same depressing news. Clouds were starting to spit snow down on my turkey woods…I sat there and replayed over and over what had happened. I thought to myself that I had seen both barrels hit the bird in the head. I decided to walk down the hill a little to see if by chance my eyes hadn’t deceived me…AND there he was piled up on the forest floor. I was so ecstatic beyond believe!! I’m sure the other hunters in the area heard me holler!