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- Category DBraman
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- Prostaff Member Dan Braman
From the Mellon Creek Outfitter lodge to the Coronado National Park entrance was a 953 mile drive. We arrived to clear skies, moderate temperatures, and 55 mile per hour winds. I thought for sure the tents we were sleeping in would blow away.
Not more than twenty minutes after we arrived in camp I looked down a draw and saw my first Goulds gobbler. He was feeding along the edge of a deep bank and he looked really different than any bird I'd ever seen. He looked a solid six inches taller than any turkey I'd ever seen an his white tips were very noticeable.
Before the first two hours had passed I'd seen two more and heard another. My hopes for the hunt couldn't have been any higher until 6:00 o'clock rolled around. Clouds started rolling in from the west. With the clouds came a cold 30 degree wind chill and sleet. I'd planned for what the forecast had said; forty degree mornings and seventy-five degree days. I was wet and freezing.
That night we had to cook our supper in a horse trailer to stay somewhat dry. It seemed it would never stop sleeting so I called home on my satellite phone. First I called my wife, no answer. I then called my son, no answer. I finally got hold of my mother and asked her to check the weather for Animas, NM. She said that it would be clear by morning.
We hired a local who knew the area and he had put up our camp. The tents we A Frame tents with canvas as walls needless to say we slept in 30 degree weather soaked to the bone. Why I didn't think to sleep in the truck only further confirms my insanity. I doubt seriously that I slept more than five minute the entire night. After one of the top ten most miserable nights of my life 5:00AM arrived. We had a cup of coffee, grabbed our vests and walked west down the draw we had seen the birds.
It was a crisp 29 degrees and my fingers were numb. I blew an owl call and heard two different roosts light up. We walked to within 150 yards or so of the closest one and set up. I made a quiet tree call and the gobblers responded. Great, I thought, at fly down I'll have my Goulds. I heard the birds fly down and start gobbling. They began to walk parallel to us and slightly away. They gobbled at every call but acted like they had hens. When the birds got to 300 yards or so I switched to by box call. One bird out of at least four immediately turned our way. He gobbled probably fifty times as he made his way to us. At around eighty yards he stopped and turned to walk around us. Seeing him strutting in the sunlight was an amazing sight. Goulds look so much bigger and their white feathers are gorgeous. He walked almost a full circle around me but never committed. I thought it was wise to just back off and let the sun warm everything up. Mainly I wanted the sun to warm me up because my hands were so cold I couldn't run my slate. I walked back to camp and had more coffee.
At around 9:00AM I walked back down the draw with a plan to just set up and cold call. I found a huge oak with a good size opening in front of it. I had been set up for about an hour when I heard a gobble. I looked across the opening and there stood a huge gobbler about 100 yards away. He walked under a tree and started strutting and gobbling. The Tom hung up there for ten minutes until I made some very quiet purrs on the slate call. This time he walked to within sixty yards and started parading back and forth in front of me. It seemed as if there was an invisible wall that he was walking up and down. He did this in full strut for well over twenty minutes.
Then this gobbler stood in a regular relaxed stance for seven minutes on my video camera absolutely motionless. My left arm was in knots holding that shotgun. Finally he stood up and turned to walk away. I grabbed my slate and started a fighting purr. Right then he strutted, gobbled, and came back. The bad thing was he came in to a place I could not turn and shoot. There he stood at thirty yards and I couldn't turn on him. As he turned around in full strut and his tail fan blocked his view I switch to left handed. I feel as awkward as a barking cat doing anything with my left hand but this was a now or never kind of deal. I putted with a mouth call, his head went up, and my Goulds was a done deal. Without a doubt this was the most exciting turkey hunt of my life. I'd try and sleep frozen again of that's what it took to relive that hour the bird was in front of me. We got I all on video though so I can relive it as much as I want.