Although I wish it were October and the boys and I could be on some chukar mountain looking for chukars, I’m still a lucky man and find reasons to be on the mountain. Turkey hunting is one of those activities that draws me to the hills once again. I always feel like something is missing when I walk up the hill because I’m used to having the two of them with me. I key off of them to know when an animal is around. Their keen senses pick up sounds and sights much quicker than I do and usually find an animal long before me. But turkey hunting is a dogless activity.
Sitting quietly and motionless on the hill as the first hint of light appears over the eastern ridges brings a great reminder of all the different animals we share the hills with.
As I make the mile and a half trip up the hill to my hunt, I have to use a flashlight to get to my destination. The moon is only half and isn’t giving off enough light to guide me up the trail through the timber and brush. Although I never see the critters, I once in a while can hear them scampering away. At one point I can smell the faint odor of a skunk and hope we don’t have an encounter. A few small birds fly off their nests in the brush, but those are the only animals I see along the trail. I suppose they are some kind of sparrow.
I finally get to my destination and pick a large sage brush to use for a back rest and camouflage. It’s still dark and I am startled by two huns that were roosting in the same bush I had picked. Obviously they can see in the dark because in the quietness I could hear them fly a ways.
The first hint of the world waking up on the mountain is the robins. They announce the slight glimpse of light coming over the hill. I settle back into the brush and make myself comfortable, knowing I’m going to be there for a while. Soon after the robins start, a distant gobble of a turkey emerges in the distance. Then another gobble further up the draw. For about fifteen minutes it sounds like the whole mountain is full of turkeys. It’s constant gobbling. It finally gets light enough that I can see the distant trees and I can see what I assume are turkeys flying down off their roost trees. As they do, they quit gobbling as quickly as they started. A few yelps from me create a gobble from a ways off but that was it. Time to make a decision.
A distant call of a chukar settles me down in the bush. I could listen to that all day long. But the bird soon quiets down and I am again wondering what my next move should be. It’s plenty light now and I am suddenly entertained by eight white tail deer about fifty yards away kicking up their heals and enjoying the cold Spring morning. The white tail have recently moved into this country. Just a half dozen years ago they weren’t here, just mule deer. White tail are so much more graceful than mule deer, but I would rather see those big eared deer. They were so much fun to hunt and I love the country they reside in.
Another gobble and I’m reminded of what I was on the hill for. A few yelps from me gets another gobble and I can hear some distant yelps. The sun is almost rising over the mountain behind me and the canyon across from me is getting lit up. White butts start popping up everywhere. Suddenly there are about twenty mule deer meandering through the sage on the far hill about five hundred yards away. They are now antlerless but I have seen some good bucks on that hill in the fall. As I sit there I wonder if one of them could possibly be mister big.
Another gobble and I’m brought back to the game on playing now. I think it’s closer but my focus was on the deer. Gotta get my head screwed on right. I get him to gobble again and he has definitely moved closer. But that’s it. He won’t gobble again. I know better, but after about fifteen minutes I’m thinking about getting in a little closer. As I start to get up I see a movement to the right. Not fifty yards away is a cow elk walking the trail I had walked in on. I hunker back down and watched as she and 43 other elk walk slowly away. It seemed like forever. I knew there was a turkey around and I was ready to see it but didn’t want to scare it away by alerting the elk.
As the last elk moves over the ridge I give a few yelps and now have the gobbler fired up. He returns fire with each yelp. Finally I get eyes on him at about 100 yards. He’s putting on quite a display strutting and gobbling. I even get to him him spitting and drumming. He’s fired up but won’t come any closer. He’s expecting me to come to him. He doesn’t have any hens with him but has picked his strutting ground and wasn’t going to move.
Once again my eyes captured another movement close to the Tom. There were about thirty quail feeding not far from the turkey. They were oblivious to the actions of big bird.
I was stuck. The Tom had me in a position that I couldn’t move. He was controlling the game. All the mouth calling I did got him fired up but he was demanding I come to him. Then I heard another yelp to my right. It sounded close and I stretched my neck over the brush enough to see a bunch of turkeys feeding about 100 yards away. There were some strutters among the hens, but I couldn’t get a good enough look to see if they were Jakes or Toms. Now I really had to play the patience game. I was stuck.
It was now starting on my third hour of sitting in front of that sage. I did much better than I usually do with being patient, but having that big boy putting on such a show helped. I had no problem keeping him fired up but he was not going to budge. Suddenly the birds to my right started gobbling and I could tell they were coming closer. My Tom dropped his strutting posture and immediately sprinted up to me. At twenty yards he gave his last last strut.
At the shot the birds to my right gave out a number of gobbles. I rose and the gobbles turned to putts as they formed a line of hens, Jakes and Toms sprinting away. They’ll be around to entertain someone else on another day.
I took the low trail heading back to the truck and was entertained by two hun pairs, a number of quail coveys, a coyote and a fox along the way. What a fun day.