By Todd Helms
Spring in the Rockies is a time of unpredictable weather at best and being successful on spring hunts often means having to get creative with logistics. For example, when the time came for Dan Turvey Jr., Lindsay Simpson and I to head east for the Wingmen Turkey Hunt the weather across Wyoming conspired to keep us at bay. However, not a team to be easily deterred we dialed up road conditions and shortly had an alternate route mapped out. Granted this new route was to take us 200 miles out of our way but true Wingmen aren’t easily dissuaded.
After more time on the road than planned we arrived after dark knowing that the birds were already a step ahead of us due to our not being able to put them to bed. Prepping gear before hitting the rack ensured that nothing would be left to chance the next morning.
As we rolled through the inky pre-dawn dark of Northeastern Wyoming my mind was flooded with “what if’s”, but as I brought the Can-Am to a stop on a small rise those murky doubts were banished as multiple gobbles echoed across the rolling hills. As the eastern sky grew from leaden to pink my team crept into position a couple hundred yards from what sounded like a half dozen or so enthusiastic Merriam’s gobblers.
Now a Merriam’s gobbler doesn’t thunder like an Eastern bird when he gobbles, his is more a melodious crescendo of sound that I have always likened to falling water. However one describes it those wonderfully harmonic gobbles were resounding from the hillsides around our setup. Not putting birds to bed the night before was seeming to not be a problem at the moment.
As glorious as the morning was, the birds proved a tad difficult and despite a weather change firing up some gobblers around midday, day one of our day and half hunt ended without a bang. On to plan B it was and a phone call later the Wingmen crew had secured permission to chase birds on a sweet little piece of private ground, the hunt was on!
Again, we did not have the option of putting birds to bed so we snuck up a creek bottom in the grey pre-dawn stillness toward what sounded like three or four toms sounding off on a high ridge in the distance. We crept as close as we dared and got set up. As the sun slipped up the ridges a distant gobble drew closer and closer until, while still out of sight, the sound of his spit and percussion of his drum revealed his presence just out of sight behind a small rise. With some soft purrs and clucks the tom strutted his way into gun range where Big Dan folded him up with a load of Longbeard XR.
Later that day the Dodge’s tires thumped and hummed their way westward as we recounted the whirlwind hunt. Winding our way over the snow laden Big Horns I couldn’t help but be amazed how in a day and a half we had accomplished our goal. Springtime in Wyoming is full of promise and sometimes one even gets to capitalize on its sweet rewards.