In many parts of the country, July spells are hot, or July suffers hot spells, in any case, the heat can be oppressive. While all this is happening memories of snow and frozen turkeys sound extra appealing. After experiencing an intoxicating Colorado turkey hunt that came to an end much faster than anticipated any “regular” turkey hunter would try to figure out where to hunt next. Well, Wyoming is on the way home from Colorado to Wisconsin, right?
On the drive north to Wyoming, hey forgot about having to traverse Nebraska too, the weather forecast for Sundance not only contained rain. But the rain was expected to turn into snow by morning in the shadow of Devil’s Tower. Change of plans on the fly seemed a prudent choice. Check the Wyoming map, err; What Wyoming map? A stop at the Sidney Cabelas fixed that problem with the purchase of aWyoming onXmap GPS map chip. Cell phones do not work where there is prime hunting in the hills of Wyoming.
Wunderground has personal weather stations all over the country for which they provide point weather forecasts. Due to incoming weather, my decision was to hunt much further south than usual where only rain was supposed to fall during the night. The map chip got me to a remote campsite in an area with lots of potential and high enough that I should be able to hear morning turkeys for quite a distance.
Totally content, sipping a hot cup of coffee in a snug camp I figured I’d better refresh the old memory about the ins and outs of Wyoming hunting regulations. “You have got to be kidding!?” my brain silently screamed, a habitat stamp is required, and the kindly elder lady at the gas station forgot to mention when I asked if this is all the license needed to hunt turkeys. Oh, well, bless her, my mother wouldn’t have told me any different.
Turkey hunting destinies do not work out in obvious ways. The jeep’s bouncing along in the dark on my camp’s trail signaling the 160+ mile habitat stamp round trip was nearly the end. I now felt like something great was going to happen in the morning. Thank goodness that Shopko had still been open on this fateful Sunday.
At my predawn awakening, it was evident by the sag in the tent, that snow had moved further south. The good news, the temperature was
well below freezing which ensured the Colorado gobbler was frozen solid, likely for the duration of the expedition.
At this point in the story, I’d love to write about toms on every mountain top angrily gobbling the snow away and stomping in practically tripping over their beards. But, alas, that is not the way the day went. This turkey hunter did his share, make that more than his share of tromping or slipping up then down hill and dale to the tune of a gobble-less day.
My body tells time, there is no sense to wearing a watch or checking a phone see what the time is, a turkey hunter must learn to operate on turkey time. Whatever in the world that is exactly. Unmistakably, it was approaching evening meaning it would be a good idea to move from my after dinner relaxation and into putting a gobbler to bed mode. Camp is remote, thankfully, I shouldn’t have to travel far, just to point over there and make some turkey talk.
Stretching as I stood up from a good camp meal I put the wingbone call to my lips and let loose some plaintive lost yelps immediately answered by the first gobble of the day. The sound echoed making it difficult to tell where it emanated from, yelped again. By golly, those birds are close and getting closer fast!
Grabbed the shotgun and started heading for some kind of a setup. As any experienced turkey hunter can attest a “setup” can be overrated in particular when you see the strutters heading your way across an open alpine meadow. Hunter movement is not helpful in this case, so I artlessly hide standing behind the closest towering Ponderosa pine.
The gobbling has stopped for what seems an eternity. A peek to see what is going is imperative in my mind. The peek reveals two toms strutting on their toes as if a pair of ballerinas. At thirty yards it’s time to get to the shooting part. Mountain Merriams are not noted for how close they get to a hunter.
As I stepped around and even with the tree keeping my left shoulder in contact the far gobbler drops out of strut and begins eating! The near tom stays in half strut while extending his neck to get a better look at the expanding tree.
Perhaps he thought the shotgun was just a growing branch. Somethings we will never know.
Nightfall brought clear sky with bright stars.