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MrMogollon

San Carlos Gobbler in the Snow – LONG VERSION

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A big group of my hunting buddies and I drove up to the San Carlos Reservation on Friday morning to chase turkeys for the weekend. We got to our campsite around 2:30pm and got the wall tent and kitchen set up. After consulting OnX, we figured out where each group was going and hit the road for a little evening scouting. It was the first weekend of the first season on the San Carlos, so we couldn’t actually hunt until Saturday morning.

My hunting partner and I opted for a spot close to camp, hoping to minimize the drive time the next morning. We drove our road from about 4pm until just before sundown, without locating any birds (about 10 miles out-and-back with no gobbles). We had the windows down, heading back towards camp when I thought I heard a gobble. We stopped the car and listened for 5 minutes… nothing. I was sure I heard a tom! My hunting partner climbed back in the rig, probably thinking I was pulling his chain. He shut the door and BOOM - gobbles.

Perfect. We had at least two toms roosted and were even able to see one of them roosted halfway up a ponderosa. We dropped a waypoint on OnX and made our way back to camp.

After a good night’s sleep, we were up and at ‘em at 4:15am with coffee and premade breakfast burritos on the wood stove. While we were packing the truck, it started to snow (NOT IN THE FORECAST!). We made the short drive to our spot, parking 600 yards from where we had roosted the birds the night before, and heard the gobblers going off! That made it easier to pick a good spot to set up in the dark.

The snow was really starting to come down as we made it into our spot and set up our decoys. I only started hunting turkeys in the past few years, so I was unsure how the weather would affect the birds. But I was convinced our toms would just hangout on the roost all day because I sure as heck wanted to be back in the warm truck!

We made a few quiet yelps to let the gobblers know where we were and sat back. They gobbled for the next 30 minutes, without us prompting them. We felt like we were in a good position and made another quiet yelp sequence to keep them intrigued. 15 minutes before sunrise we heard some gobbles 100 yards to the north of where our birds were roosted. It was either another set of toms that we hadn’t known about OR our birds had gotten down out of the roost without us hearing them. It ended up being the latter!

The next 5 minutes was chaos, with the gobbles getting closer and closer. Each time they gobbled, I could feel it more and more in my chest. I understand the thunder chicken moniker now! I began seeing movement 75 yards out, which was a feat with the snow coming down in droves. I didn’t know it in the moment, but I think the snow covered up our decoys making it harder for the three incoming toms to know where we were.

They missed the “X” and were moving to my left. In doing so, they forced me to rotate my sitting position and turn my shotgun towards the birds who were in the open at 25 yards. Aiming at the middle tom, I squeezed the trigger and CLICK. While trying to be quiet at the truck earlier that morning, I guess I hadn’t let the bolt slam all the way closed on my 3.5” shell and had a misfire. Trying to not the let moment pass me up, I cycled the bolt on my shotgun and got another round in the chamber. With all that noise, the turkeys knew something was up. They were confused and fixin to leave, but not before I got a shot off!

What a cool morning! I had my first tom on the ground after an exciting hunt and the pictures in the snow will remind of this weekend forever. Side note: we filled my buddies tag in a similar fashion on Sunday morning, after it had warmed up a bunch.

I’m hooked - and we will be back in the turkey woods next spring.

CHEERS and thanks for reading!

-MM

 

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Excellent!!!!!   Cool that you got your first gobbler!  Also looks like you guys know how to camp! ;)

Good stuff!

S.

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Thanks for the feedback! I may have another writeup for y'all at the end of April.

Just booked my flights to visit my brother out in Texas to hunt Rio Grande's.

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You can get hooked real easy . I started on My own 30+ years ago. took till my 2nd or 3rd year to kill ,can't remember anymore but been hooked ever since. Even more rewarding when your self taught and then teach others. Just finished my Royal Slam in Florida 12 days ago. Can't wait to get back to AZ. to hunt on the 30th. I'm in PA. watching Turkeys and Snow now. Congrats. ..............BOB!

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Awesome!  Aint nothing like that feeling when you hear that gobbler getting closer and closer.  Hunting them in the snow makes for a unique experience. 

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UPDATE - BLUEBONNET LONGBEARD

My brother picked up me in Dallas last Thursday and we got on the road. It took us about 2 hours to get to some private ground we have permission to hunt - we cracked some beers and got ready to roost some birds that evening. We spent the last hour of shooting light trying to locate some longbeards and spent about an hour afterwards owl hooting, hoping to shock gobble a few. No luck.

We woke up Friday morning with an uninformed game plan, really just hoping we would get into this hayfield on the property and get lucky. We parked about 1000 yards from the tree line, on the far end of the hayfield, about an hour before legal shooting light. As we closed the distance across the field, we decided to stop and make a set of owl hoots. I couldn't even get the first three notes out and POW. POW. Two gobblers struck up on the left corner of the hayfield. We made a beeline for trees.

We set up as close as we could in the pitch black of the early morning, with a jake and hen decoy set out about 15 yards into the field. After 15 minutes of letting things cool down, I let out a soft hen call and immediately - POW, POW.  I gave them some time and hit them with a little bit louder and longer hen call - POW, POW. They were keyed in on our location and all we had to do was wait for flydown.

10 minutes after legal shooting light, the gobbles start to move direction slightly. Again, we don't hear them fly down... but we see two dark blobs 100 yards into the hayfield. In the grey light of early dawn, we can barely make them out. But we know one of them is a tom, with the thunder coming from their location.

20 minutes of cat/mouse calling, and we have this jake and tom barreling in our decoys. I'm sitting behind my brother and I give them a soft yelp to get the tom's head up inside the decoy spread. He fired off a round and the big tom cartwheeled in place.

Epic morning and a cool experience to get it done with my brother.

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