Close encounters with a Merriam Turkey

After a busy day, we made it home, threw on our camo then grabbed the shot-gun and decoys. We still had about three hours of hunting time left. We hiked to our hunting spot, threw the camo netting up and decided since this would be the last day to hunt this mesa, we would “hit them hard.” We would do some aggressive calling and try to make it happen.

Hank with his Cane Creek Pro Custom Aluminum and me with my Primos “Ol’ Betsy” Slate started our run. He would cluck. I would purr. I would cluck, and he would cut me off. We chattered and waited and chattered and waited. We didn’t wait as long as we ordinarily would just due to the amount of time we had. We carried on with our concert for a couple of “sets” of calling.

Hank headed to peek over the hill and see if anything was down in the valley. Suddenly I saw him trotting back. He snatched up my decoys, and I knew just what to do. Below were two toms headed our way in full strut. To cut the distance, we would have to double back so they wouldn’t see us. We needed to drop off the edge to get a set up further down the hill. We high tailed it and tried to hide behind the juniper and sage.

I was braced on the side of the hill ready for the two toms to show themselves. We called, and they gobbled around the bend. I knew this would happen quickly.

Then I heard another gobble. This one was from the “wrong” direction. This one seemed to come from above where us, from where we had just come. I signaled to Hank and he gave me a signal back of “Yeah. I heard.”

We paused and waited then called again and then multiple gobbles from atop the mesa where we had just been. I looked back again at Hank and gave him a “What the heck?!” look. He gave me the “Get ready. Here they come!” look. We were amazed because just days before it had been silent in here. There hadn’t been a single hen cluck much less a gobble, or in this case, multiple gobbles!

I slid my legs down the hill careful not to knock any rocks loose. I rolled over onto my belly. The gobblers at the top were coming faster than the two toms below. I hid behind the root of the juniper and knew that Hank was going to be stuck in the wide open if the toms came in from the “back door.”

I lay on my belly and looked at him as he had no cover around. That is when I saw it. Two blue heads poked over the top of the ridgeline.

With Hank in between me and them, I signaled. TWO. He held still and steady.

I watched as they made their appearance and started down the very trail Hank and I had come down moments ago. Then I saw MORE. What?! I made BIG eyes at Hank. He could see nothing of what was going on behind him and remained still. I signaled to him. FOUR! His eyes got big, and he mouthed “Can you shoot?” I signaled “NO WAY!” He had no idea, but the toms came down not five feet behind him. The two first, then the next two and then four jakes. All came right past him, knocking pebbles loose, which tumbled into him.

I figured if I was going to get a shot I was going to have to wait until they not only passed Hank but also until they got around me. Once they got to Hank’s left side, the tree I was hiding behind would be obstructing the view. I waited patiently and then when the tree hid me from the tom’s view I drew my knees to my chest. The decoys were directly to my right, and I needed to pivot 180 degrees to be facing their direction again. I waited until the tom arrived at the location of the decoys then pushed up on my toes, dug in on the steep hill, pivoted and as he heard pebbles rolling down the hill he stuck his head up, and I shot.

With my toes dug in, I watched the tom go cascading. He tumbled to the bottom. Hank jumped up and came and give me a high-five. A high-five for me?! I think he deserved one more than I. He remained so still that those gobblers never even looked his direction. The scenario was incredible, considering his wife was making BIG EYED expressions of excitement his direction and he couldn’t move a hair.

HAHA! What a hunt! It’s always an adventure!

Mia Anstine - Colorado Merriam turkey hunt

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12 Replies to “Close encounters with a Merriam Turkey”

  1. Wow! What a hunt! I went on my first turkey hunt the other day. It was a blast! Not quite as exciting as yours, but still fun! Congratulations on a great bird and a great hunt!

  2. Thanks so much Jamie! I always say, “calling in a tom is almost as fun as calling in a bull elk.” Without the fear of being mowed down that is.
    Best of luck to you on your hunt!!!

  3. I read your blog after my post. I thought it was a Merriams at first glance. I hunted the Merriams in Montana! Beautiful birds! Mine was a cliffhanger! If my friend Jan hadn’t jumped up and grabbed him after my shot, he may have tumbled down into a ravine! It was a great hunt! I’ll never forget it!

  4. Nice bird,it was great to see it after you told me the story the other day.

  5. Mia, I just read you’re interview over at Outdoor Blogging Network, and am having fun checking out your site. You define girl power, and I’m looking forward to folllowing along! Your love of horses especially attracts me (I am horseless right now, but feel your need to bring a granola bar to share with your mount), and so do your interests in hunting and photography. I write 1,000 Miles on My Own Two Feet and that’s the kind of female empowerment I hope to attain. Contrats on your turkey! Happy Trails, Mia 🙂 -Abby Austin

  6. Thank you so much Abigail. I am happy you enjoyed the site. Please follow along at the Women’s Outdoor News as well. There are lots of women with power there as well. I’m headed over to check out your site right now. 😀

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