.... for those of you that are not on cwt or FB ...
I would like to say it was by great skill and cunning that I called in and harvested my first (and probably only) AZ Gould’s Turkey. BUT, as is usual, Providence prevailed. It took me 13 years and 26 Bonus points to draw the #1 of 3 permits for the area for the early hunt. I went down to Patagonia RV Park on Tuesday to get in some scouting time after “setting up camp.” [:-D However, 3 days of before dawn and after dusk just about killed me – getting OLD! Super dry and dusty, the roads were actually not bad on the half hour drive into the area. On the first evening, I was heading back and here they came across the road -- about 6 mature gobblers strutting and gobbling and carrying on, along with a few hens. Talk about exciting! “This was going to be an easy hunt.” SURE!
I was up well before dawn the next day but not quite as early as I liked in getting to the area. The turkeys were gobbling but soon stopped early in the morning. I did quite a bit of driving but never found anything else, so I headed back to camp. My hunting buddy, Ed, showed up mid-afternoon and we got to see another show in the same area. The next morning, we were in the wonder spot before sunup and got to hear the show again – same thing they clammed shortly after hitting the ground. We went driving around to the south where they had headed but did not find them before the wind came up. We did run into the flock later on to the west before driving back for a nap. Man, Ed snores loud! The days get muddled in my mind but on one of the days we drove into Nogales the long way to get gas and saw a lone hen at a couple of different locations along with a cattle dog. We did see the turkeys every day in that same field, though, in the evenings.
Finally, the hunt started Friday and we got up at 2:30am to assure we were in-place before 5am. Instead of one gobbler, there were several going off without us calling. Unfortunately, there were also several hens making all kinds of racket. We had not called at all till we were set up in a likely place on the way to the field to the west where I assumed they would go. Being close enough to hear all of them fly down was so exciting. However, the sounds seemed to go south and try as we might, there was no bringing the gobblers back from those real, seductive females. We tried following their path and did identify the roost area. Again, they had all shut up just after heading south. In a desperate attempt, we drove around to the south and I sat some water while Ed napped but it never panned out. We stayed out all day in the wind scouting new areas and almost got hit by a falling 3” branch while napping in the truck.
Now the providence part … Early afternoon had us back in the magic spot. Opening the windows, we immediately heard a gobble to the south but from further off than the roost trees. At least they would call once in a while during some of the daylight hours while on the ground! I started getting ready to try to intercept them on the way to the field when we heard a gobble from the field to the west. I then decided to have Ed take me to the other end of the field to where I we had seen them every day. Just after leaving, Ed spied this lone gobbler in the field heading south to join his buddies near the roost site. We continued up the road and had a philosophical discussion about if I would be satisfied with a run and gun harvest. I told him I try not to argue the specifics with Providence. I got out and Ed drove back to the magic spot. I could see the gobbler moving south through the sparse junipers. It was a mature gobbler with a nice bead and a beautiful, bright red head. I glassed him looking at me with his left eye and it reminded me of that scene in Jurassic Park where the dinosaur was staring at the hero with one eye. He was pretty far away so I tried to stay behind the trees up to the fence line where I headed South to the corner. Well, the gobbler was also headed to that corner in no big hurry. After he cleared the last two big Junipers, I rested on the fence and flopped him at 38 yd with one loud boom (3” magnum, 12 ga, #4 shot). He was still flopping when I got to him.
Ed missed all the action because he forgot to lock the truck and went back to lock it, but he got there in time to record the aftermath of me holding the legs to avoid getting spurred and allowing the bird to expire without damaging the meat or cape. Following tagging the bird, we carried him back to some shade by truck to get some pictures. My head was covered by the bird’s tail in almost every picture but we got the one picture on a 2nd phase of pictures. He had nice spurs, one sharp (3/4 in) and the other rounded. His beard was a good one, too, at 11 inches. We found a nice tree with ample shade on Guajalote Flat where we skinned and cleaned him. His craw was completely empty which surprised me – too much time chasing the ladies!
It had been a long day and I was tired and probably dehydrated. We got the bird on ice, ate some deer loins for dinner and tried to go to bed early. As seems to be typical, after strenuous days, I ended up in A-Fib but oh well. I slept well until about 2 am when I had to go, but at least the A-Fib had stopped by that time. I was so thankful for not having to stay up for another morning. I drank some more water to re-hydrate and the next thing I know, Ed is coming back into the trailer and making all kinds of racket at 5am – he is an early riser, and prefers the RV Camp’s restrooms and has not embraced the old man syndrome of sleeping in like I have. I guess 5am was really sleeping in compared to what we had been doing. He even made us coffee! It was 34F outside and inside the trailer was 49F. He was in short sleeves and shorts -- I was looking for my sweat clothes. Did I tell you he is from the UP of Michigan? So, I got up and enjoyed someone else making the coffee and prepared to come home with the bird. He left an hour or so before I did. I pulled out right at 7:30am to bring the bird home, leaving the trailer since I had already paid for a week’s stay. Providence had reined and I do not get to brag – well, too much.