South Dakota Merriams


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Upon first glance at the South Dakota landscape, I had my doubts that there was even a turkey in the area.

While it was an amazing scenery, it was not the sight that I had pre thought out in my mind. With the sun about to break over the horizon and start to warm the cool air, my doubts were quickly laid to rest. The sound of gobbles filled the wide open air with what seemed to be no trees or leaves to stop them. As I sit there awaiting the highly anticipated daylight, I couldn’t help to think to myself how fortunate I was to be “in” my office filming with Will from Killer Gear.

With tags rattling around my pocket like loose change, I was chomping at the bit for Will to let the Benelli bark. The sight of these white tipped thunder chickens was always a dream of mine. With the dream becoming reality, I found myself struggling to watch these amazing animals through the three inch screen of the video camera. As my eyes drifted to watch the real life full size version, so did the camera. Constantly having to shake myself out of the dream thats unfolding in front of the camera, I reminded myself “you’re here to film, do your job”. Several days in I finally shook the bug of watching the hunt unfold with my eyes and started watching it unfold through the camera. Close call after close call yielded no results in the form of bacon wrapped turkey breasts sizzling on the grill. However, Will and I’s hopes were high with the action that continued to take place, it was just a matter of time.

The landscape of vast nothingness completely transformed on day three or four. We were hiking through a place affectionately known as ” The Devil’s Backbone”. As a flat lander from Ohio, I was way out of my element. We were walking through ditches, cliffs and hills that made my ankles bend in ways I didn’t know they were supposed to. The canyons and cliffs made these gobbles that you would bet your paycheck on were 30 yards in front of you, vanish like ghosts. Sitting behind the Turkeyfan in nothing but open surrounding us, we waited for these “ghost” turkeys to show up. Hiking up and down these canyons, I quickly learned the most appealing features to the Turkeyfan was it is lightweight and compact. I found myself day dreaming about how much worse this hike would be with a bag of decoys flopping around and clanking on my back all day.

After numerous days into the hunt, I’m completely blown away at the reaction of these birds to the Turkeyfan. While it’s not a full proof system, as nothing in hunting is, the things that we are able to do and get away with were nothing short of amazing. We were in the middle of flocks of hens that had no clue that they were literally feet away from danger. With Will having some success and giving a beautiful merriams a dirt nap, my hands shifted from a record button to a 12 gauge.

With an hour left and daylight quickly coming to an end, my opportunity was finally about to happen. A huge green field with rolling hills tucked up to a creek line was the setting. The target, a big, fat, loud mouth merriams turkey sounding off his position every 10 seconds. With a confused look to Will, I expressed my concerns about getting to this bird that is 400 yards from us in the wide open. What happened next was memory that will never leave my mind. We both opened our Turkeyfans and cautiously approached this turkey from 400 or more yards. As we get to 250 yards I look back to Will¬† almost in shock that he hasn’t gotten spooky. The real magic happened when we hit 100 yards. Will and I stopped and got a game plan together. He was going to stay put and film from his elevated position on the hill and I was going to keep moving towards this strutting gobbler. As I started to approach the turkey again, his demeanor suddenly changed. He knew this was his area and this approaching turkey was not welcome. As I saw him commit my way, I set the Turkeyfan down and positioned myself behind it for a shot. This last 75 yards is the memory that is etched into my mind forever. This big gobbler stomped his way in to 20 yards and gobbled in my face. As I told myself ” concentrate… He is close, you can miss this shot if you don’t burn that shotgun sight into his head before your finger is on the trigger,” he closed to 15 yards. I popped up over the top of the Turkeyfan, shouldered my gun and let a 3 1/2 inch shotgun shell do what it does best.

Everyone has that favorite gun, that gun that just feels right every time it hits your shoulder. This is the gun that I had on this turkey hunt. The reason we all have this favorite gun is not only because its comfortable, but simply because its reliable and you trust it to do its job when the time comes. After this hunt, the Turkeyfan became one of those trustworthy pieces of equipment for me, just like that favorite gun. Without it, this beautiful merriams that is currently at the taxidermist, would otherwise currently be perched up on a limb resting his eyes for the night. Im sure he would disagree, but I like it the way it turned out a lot better than the alternative.

Last modified: January 4, 2017

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