My brother arranged for me to hunt on a friend of his farm in Utah for my turkey in that state. I drove from Texas to Enid, Oklahoma to pick up our producer, Shane Roy, and left his house headed to Ferron, Utah. We arrive two days later in time to jump in the truck with the landowner and scout. The farm was located in a valley filled with alfalfa fields and irrigation pivots. Cottonwoods lined a creek bottom separating these fields and I could tell just by looking at it that if there was a turkey around they’d be right here. We hadn’t driven five minutes when I saw a turkey ahead of us about 200 yards away. We stopped and with our binoculars we were able to spot two toms, a jake, and two hens. As it turned out, that was the only turkeys we saw that evening and we were fortunate enough to watch them walk into the cottonwoods to roost. The next morning found us freezing cold with a stiff north wind blowing with temperatures in high 30’s. As daylight made it easier for me to see, I became even colder as I noticed the ice forming on the alfalfa where to irrigation pivots were watering the fields. Thirty minutes after good daylight I had not yet heard a single gobble or seen a turkey. Being so cold that my nail beds ached and not hearing a gobble certainly was testing my patience. The truck with a very good heater was parked four hundred yards away was a tempting and ever present thought. But, being in that truck wouldn’t produce a gobbler for me in Utah so I held out. I called again and strained my ears to hear anything remotely sounding like a turkey. I heard nothing but Shane turned to me and said that he thought he might have heard one. As Shane was saying that I looked to his right and saw a gobbler walking out of the cottonwoods about 200 yards from where we were sitting. One by one the gobblers, jake, and hens walked out. Once they were all out in the open, I sent some calm yelps their way. Either they weren’t interested or the wind was too strong for them to hear me because they never even raised their heads. I waited about three minutes and got aggressive on my call. I yelped loudly at them and threw in some cuts. One of the toms threw up his head and literally started running in our direction. Up the hill he came at a dead run and got to fifty yards and stopped like he’d seen a ghost. I’m not sure if he didn’t like our decoys or what was on his mind but it was evident that he was done coming any closer. I purred a little and scratched the leaves beneath me with my fingers trying to get him closer. Nothing worked but his snood was still hanging long so I wasn’t in a panic to shoot. He stood there perfectly still for a couple minutes and then I watch his snood get tight on his face. This told me that it was now or never. In the past, I may have been slightly hesitant to try a fifty-yard shot but with the new Apex TSS #9 shot shells fifty yards doesn’t bother me at all. I told Shane that I was about to take him shortly there after I had my Utah gobbler in my hands. I beautiful hunt in some really pretty country, for sure. The one thing that was different for me with this hunt was my post hunt camera talk. Usually and especially turkey hunting, I enjoy explaining who, what, when, where and why about each hunt. But, on this particular hunt I was so cold and my hands hurt so bad I couldn’t find many words. I squatted down next to the tom and can’t even remember what I said, all I could think about was “truck heater, truck, heater, truck heater”. As it turned out, we were done really early and on our way to Oregon.
My son’s team roping partner is from Oregon so I had called him and asked if he had any place that I could hunt in his state. He explained that he had a friend with a gorgeous ranch near Prineville and that I could come hunt it. Shane and I arrived late into Prineville so we elected to not hunt the roost but hunt later in the morning. We arrived at the ranch around 9:00 AM and set off up the roads through this gorgeous country hoping to strike a gobble. Where we stopped the first time was along a creek surrounded by beautiful pine trees and steep terrain. I made a few excited yelps on my pot call and we didn’t hear anything. Deciding to move to another area, we started the truck and the woods lit up with gobbles and way too close. We shut the engine down, grabbed out things, and headed down the hill to get set up. The landowner of my son’s roping partner, Brandon, had never been turkey hunting so I was hoping things would work out well for their first hunt. I made some yelps and finished them with some cuts and at least three gobblers cut me off. I got quiet and waited for them to start coming my way. Ten minutes later, as I sat perfectly still against a giant pine, I saw two blue heads bobbing up and down slowly coming to our set up. I had a jake and hen decoy ten yards in front of us and across a small stream. The toms paused for just a second on a small rise about sixty-five yards away and then came in at full strut. They circled the decoys and drummed making angry faces at the jake decoy. During this commotion, I whispered to Brandon to pick one out and shoot it. I felt like it was only right that he get the first turkey since he had arranged the hunt for me. It was then that I found out that although I had given him one of my shotguns and three rounds he still had the ammo in his pocket. I could hear him loading the gun and I just kept my bead on one of the turkey’s heads in case they decided to leave. With his gun finally loaded, he killed a fine gobbler at less then fifteen yards. After the high fives and pictures, we continued down the road stopping periodically to see if we could make another one gobble. We stopped at several places but couldn’t get one to gobble. Finally, we stopped and one gobbled and he sounded like he was a couple hundred yards away. We grabbed our gear and walked a semi-circle around a hill to set up and call. Where I decided to set up was along a draw and fairly open. The only thing between the turkey and us was a slight hill and what I thought would be about 100 yards. I was right on the hill but I was way off on the distance. I made the first yelp on my mouth call and it was cut off by a turkey that I could tell by my ears was well within range and not far out of sight below the hill. Within seconds, he came walking out in front of me and saw the decoys. I am always really skeptical about using decoys but the truth is that when they work they make for great TV. Sadly, the decoys scared this gobbler and he immediately started fast walking to our left and away. I called and he gobbled at every yelp but wouldn’t stop walking. At 87 yards, he stopped and started gobbling and double gobbling. I purred, I scratched the leaves, I clucked, and I think I may have begged in English, Spanish, and Swahili but nothing worked. He just stood there gobbling as my mind drifted back to when I was in North Carolina the month prior and tried the Apex TSS #9 rounds on a paper plate at 100 yards. That test had put 19 pellets in the plate at a greater distance than this turkey. I whispered to the three guys sitting my left that I was going to try it. I don’t know which one of them said it, but I heard someone say, “You’re going to do what, that’s a long way.” I aimed about ten inches over the bird’s head and squeezed the trigger on my old Remington 870. To my utter amazement, the bird jumped in the air and landed on his side and never moved a muscle. I pulled down my facemask, turned to my left and looked at three grown men sitting there with their mouths open. I too was dumbfounded at the lethality of this ammunition. With that said, I hope that forever remains the farthest shot I ever take turkey hunting. I don’t want to shoot birds that far because the fun is in bringing them close. However, it is nice to know that when things don’t go well and you’re short on time you have that to fall back on.