A First Merriam | One Shot, One Flop

A First Merriam | One Shot, One Flop

My daughter, Haydyn, had not yet gotten her first turkey. And believe me, it hasn’t been for lack of effort on her behalf! Suffice it to say, turkeys are just jerks! She has long wanted to finally connect with a big tom, but sadly the toms didn’t have the same plans year after year.

This spring I had the opportunity to hunt Colorado Merriams with J&D Outfitters and Haydyn was able to jump into this hunt with me. It was a fun chance for some mother/daughter hunting time. We had not yet hunted with J&D Outfitters and were excited at the prospect. I have known Doyle Worbington for some time and sadly had to cancel a spring turkey hunt last year due to Covid. There was NO WAY I was going to miss this chance again.

We met up with our guides, Tanner Creel and Riley Hutton early in the afternoon. After a quick tour of our accommodations, which were amazing, we geared up and headed out. It was about a half-hour drive to the property we were going to hunt, then another half hour further by UTV. The weather was teetering on grim. High winds, snow, and rain all came at once, which is never uncommon in Colorado. The scenery, however, did not disappoint. We had beautiful views of the San Juans and the Uncompahgre Valley.

Once we arrived in the area we were to hunt that evening, we started to grab gear and load shotguns. As we were in the process, a nearby crow began to sound off, which immediately resulted in a gobble that was very close. Tanner and Riley hustled us up the hillside where we set up on the side of an old ranch track. Tanner called and had the gobbler fired up. He came at us quickly giving us an amazing show.

Haydyn was to be the first shooter. She was situated behind a bit of brush that obscured her view of the bird for a quick shot. Additional calling brought the bird into closer view. As Tanner called, Riley talked Haydyn through the hunt. The bird continued to strut and gobble his way toward us.

The wind kicked up and gave the hen decoy a bit of a spin which made the gobbler take pause.

He gave it more consideration, then slowly started to work away from us. At this point, Haydyn had to make a fast and difficult shot. From her position, she was going to need to swing to a kneeling position and level off a shot as quickly as possible. At Riley’s count, Haydyn did just that. In one quick movement, she was up and triggering off her shot. Feathers flew, the tom flopped. She got her first turkey!

As cliché as it sounds, it is indeed far more rewarding to watch your kids succeed than it is to succeed yourself. Haydyn had turkey hunted many times and had been skunked each and every time.

Her excitement was palpable. Her bird was huge and worth the wait!

I was able to harvest my bird the following day, but that will be a story for another day! I did, however, get the job done with my Mossberg 930 12 Gauge. One shot, one flop!

I do want to give another shout-out to the amazing crew at J&D Outfitters. If you are looking for any Colorado turkey or big game outfitters, look no further. Their crew was knowledgeable, fun, and accommodating. The lodging, food, and guide service were top-notch!