When he ran into my setup, the New Mexican gobbler’s chest seemed unnaturally huge. I assumed it was because he was so puffed up, ready to kick the grits out of the full-strut Hazel Creek tom decoy.
But later, when I checked my GPS and confirmed the elevation—10,400 feet above sea level—it occurred to me that maybe the tom’s breast was so large because his lungs were freakishly big, an adaptation to living in that thin alpine air.
The Vermejo Park Merriam’s is easily the highest-altitude gobbler I’ve ever killed, and hunting him reminded me that alpine turkeys are different from their lowland brethren.
Here’s what to keep in mind as you hunt gobblers above 5,000 feet, which is a pretty common elevation for public-land Merriam’s.
It’s been a long, hard and miserable winter up here in the Northeast. With the countdown to turkey season picking up pace, many of us are still wondering what sort of season we’ll be faced with. Have we lost birds this winter? Has the lingering cold weather delayed gobbling and breeding activity? When—if ever—will the hardcore gobbling cut loose?
As we await those answers, we’d like to thank Maine resident Lou Dagneau for sending along this intriguing turkey photo that’s worth a double take. Here’s the note that came along with it:
Aunt Linda has a problem, but it's solvable. She needs us to shoot different turkey guns.
The matriarch of our little group, Linda Powell, has switched jobs, moving from handling media relations for Remington Arms to a similar gig with Mossberg. So we dutifully trade our field-worn 870s for pump-action Mossbergs. The new Flex would be a good choice, Linda says, and would I be interested in trying one out on Mexican gobblers?
This is the kind of tom that turkey hunters dream of finding in the spring. He's ready for a battle and will try to lick anything that comes his way, including his own reflection.
The video was posted by Todd Clifford over the weekend: "This is a very cool video that happened at our house yesterday! A rare video of a Tom Eastern wild turkey fighting his reflection in our door window!"
The spring gobblers that waft in and out of our lives—refusing to sound off, ignoring our calling altogether, spooking at an errant movement, stalling just out of range, drifting off with a real hen—can be good teachers.
But unless you end up with a dead turkey in hand, those hunting lessons are incomplete. How can you say, with any certainty, what really went wrong?
It takes a remarkable gun to earn a nickname, but Morris’ Benelli Super Black Eagle II has both the track record and the reputation to join the pantheon of firearms with a handle. Netty, as the shotgun is called by its legion of fans, isn’t ornate, pedigreed, or particularly noteworthy. But in just three years, the semi-auto has killed more gobblers than most turkey guns will shoot in a lifetime.
As a 30-year veteran of the archery industry, I had pretty much given up on the concept of hunting turkeys with a bow. I’d seen too many fly-aways with hanging legs and birds running off to die but never be recovered. But my opinion changed when I started working with the guys from Elite Archery and Solid broadheads. They have perfected an all-or-nothing approach to hunting longbeards: You aim for the neck. That way, you’ll either miss or get a clean kill shot. No wonder their turkey broadhead is called the D-Cap. Here’s how you do it.
The A1ArcheryTV team shot this unique footage last year of a wild hen turkey gobbling.
This from the video description: "Stewart Korn (A-1 Archery) is in a blind with Marlyn Wiebelhaus of Wiebelhaus Guiding near Wynot, Nebraska and this hen starts to gobble at the hen decoy they had out. Marlyn had one of the A-1 cameras and didn't even turn it on until he heard it gobble the first time. He had his fingers crossed and was able to record this hen gobble twice after he turned the camera on."
If you walk into any sporting goods retailer, you can quickly find and buy a good turkey call. At Cabela’s, you can find hundreds of options including new mouth calls, box calls and pot calls, but sometimes being different can pay off. Every turkey hunter should have an oddball call in their vest — a custom-made call that sounds different from the rest. The following are four oddball calls you probably haven’t heard of or seen. They might cost a bit more than your run of the mill dime store diaphragm, but these calls are hand made, one at a time, by an artist, not by a machine.