The Merriment of Merriam’s

It wasn’t like any other hunting day, it was the last afternoon of a 3-day hunt that I thought might end as they had the previous two years before…turkey less.

It’s not that I never saw many turkeys. I had seen plenty!

I had easy shots on jakes the first day of each of my hunts, but always opted to holdout for that tom.  But it seemed as though I was mainly a hen attractor (when it wasn’t legal to shoot one), as they always came within spitting distance of my blind. I chuckled when one lone hen came by and pecked the heck out of the stuffed  “Henrietta” decoy, until it tipped over several minutes later. 

That morning was spent in a pasture where not only toms were spotted close by, but where horses also spotted the blind we set up. With visibility so low due to heavy fog, the horses kept my eyes focused on the landscape.

The horses also came over one by one to check out Henrietta Decoy and give her a whiff.

After trials of an errant arrow from shooting my blind window (that bounced off the ground 10 feet in front of me), and than an episode of a pouffy sleeve getting in the way of my bow string (and thoroughly whacking my arm that eventually turned purple and yellow), I missed the broad sided tom, which was even less than 10 yards away. Only a few tail feathers exploded into the air but my heart sank as the tom hurried away to a safer zip code.

I could mention the next couple misses on a different tom, but that would be too humiliating.

I probably would have had just as much luck hitting a tom as if I would have thrown the arrows at him! I’ll spare the awful details and go right to the last hunt of the day.

I had seen many toms, but most of them were shotgun range away and I was toting a bow. I wanted to make this as difficult as I could. Well, not really, but that’s how it seems to be when hunting with a stick and string, and I am fiercely a bow gal only. My arrow did finally connect with a tom this year though.

It was a warm Tuesday when cruising the back roads of Gregory Co., South Dakota , when two toms were spotted near a field surrounded by cedar trees. We drove the truck down the road, hopped out and preceded to quickly set up a Double Bull ground blind amongst the cedars. My guide and caller on this hunt was Don Ngyuen (Wing) of Double K Guide Service, who did an excellent job of quickly luring those two toms within bow range.

They strutted all pretty like for the hen decoy that was set up directly in front of us. At 19 yards, I knew the time was right to pull back, anchor, and release the string. I hit one of the pretty boys broadside, and both him and his comrade quickly turned and went back the way they came.

After some high-fives, Don said it was best to sit and wait for the turkey to expire before pursuing him. I could certainly sit patiently now, after waiting three years for this. From our blind, we saw the sick bird walk under a cedar tree and lay down. His comrade tom stood next to him for a while and then walked off, leaving my tom alone to his misery. Unfortunately for him, three other toms in the hood noticed mine under the tree, and decided to gang up on him. His comrade came back and joined in on the royal turk whooping. They all had their turn with him and wouldn’t stop so Don decided to end the show once and for all. He walked over to the cedar tree, which made the other toms scatter, and put one last arrow into him… not that “Tommy” was going to be going anywhere anytime soon, or ever again, but now he was laid to rest and ready to tag.

He was 19 lbs and sported an 8” beard with spurs just a little over ¾”. Maybe not the biggest Merriam in Gregory, but certainly one I was thrilled about for taking as my first.

Oh the merriment of taking a Merriam!

If you’d like to hunt Merriam’s, South Dakota is the place and Dave Kieser is the man behind Double K Guide Service that would gladly book your hunt.

Gregory County and surrounding areas have truly beautiful landscape, as they are nestled in the bluffs of the Missouri River .

On this turkey hunt, I hunted out of a Double Bull ground blind,
Used a Renegade Tominator ll bow (aptly named),
Easton Axis arrows with Rocket Mini-Blaster broadheads,
Copper John Dead Nuts 3-Pin Hunting Sight
And an HHA Sports Opti-Tune D.A.R.T. arrow rest
All helped in bagging a nice tom and getting me thinking of next years hunt already.

Shoot straight and shoot often.

© April 2005