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New Mexico 2015 (Part I)

Posted April 20th, 2015 at 11:42 AM by Black Spurs
Updated April 20th, 2015 at 01:41 PM by Black Spurs

We arrived at the edge of the 2.7 million acre Gila National Forest at about 5:45 AM, Sunday, April 12, 2015. We knew very little about the forest or the area. We were thinking we had an inside track on some birds, but our sources turned out to not know quite as much as we thought they did, which was no big deal. We decided to get there three days early to scout a little before the season started.

We parked at a spot I had found on Google Earth that looked promising. Turkeys started gobbling in earnest at 6:20 AM, but they shut up when they hit the ground. And, we found out they were on private land. We set up camp and actually had one answer me with a gobble while I was fiddling around with my friend’s box call. We spent Sunday setting up camp and scouted a little bit that evening. We saw some gobblers and felt pretty good about the day.

Monday morning was our first full day of scouting. I heard several in a canyon before daylight, and I eventually ended up within shotgun range of a gobbler that was tearing it up. I watched him strut and gobble in the tree until he flew down. Once these birds hit the ground, they pretty much went quiet for the rest of the day. The rest of my day was spent running trails and drinking a little beer.

Tuesday morning we did not hear any turkeys gobble, but we saw birds while riding to check out some different places. By this time, we had talked to our sources a couple of times and were advised that the birds would generally gobble high, fly down, get water, and work up and down the mountains all day. The rest of my Tuesday was running some back country mountain trails, and drinking some more beer.

Wednesday morning was opening day, and we were met with high winds and temperatures in the low 30’s. I heard several birds gobble and set up on a drain leading to a larger creek. The turkeys pitched out and got quiet. Eventually, I moved around to try to find the birds. A guy came into the area and spooked three gobblers; I am not sure if they were longbeards of jakes. I just saw 3 red heads in the distance. I was not concerned with longbeard or jake; I was planning to shoot the first legal male turkey I could since I have never killed a Merriam’s.

By the time Wednesday came to a close, I was beginning to realize that these birds are not any “easier” to kill than any other turkey when they have hens. And, there were quite a few more people in the woods than I thought there would be based on my information. I decided to give my spot from Wednesday one more chance since I had one roosted there. Also, these birds did not gobble much this week on the roost in the evening. And, they are not very consistent with roosting.

Thursday morning started with some gobbles and high winds. Several birds were above me but didn’t seem interested in coming down the draw. I did have a couple of gobbles on the ground, but his interest in my calling was marginal, at best. By 8:30 AM, I decided that I wasn’t sitting in one spot for the last two days of my hunt waiting for something to happen. I was going to cover some ground until I could either find a turkey that was gobbling or find a spot I felt like turkeys were coming to consistently. I jumped up and headed to the canyon rim and started walking and calling every 150 or so yards. I used the box call because the wind was just howling down the canyon. After a few stops with this method, I found myself standing at an old road that led into the kind of terrain I understand, a controlled burn.
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