Category Archives: Turkey Hunting
Colorado’s southwest corner is home to some of the highest, wildest public-lands wildlife habitat in Colorado and the country: the San Juan Mountains. The San Juans encompass both Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands, and contain not only the largest designated wilderness area in the southern Rockies, the 500,000-acre Weminuche Wilderness, but also the largest roadless area, the 150,000-acre Hermosa Creek watershed.
And it’s a place both Merriam’s turkeys and Rocky Mountain elk call home. My first San Juans turkey was taken only a couple miles (and a couple hundred feet in elevation change) from where I killed my first elk. Zach Roth, Littleton-based regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation, says the Merriam’s turkey sub-species is often found in the hilly big-game habitat comprising much of the state’s public lands. “Anywhere that people hunt elk, there are probably turkeys there too,” says Roth.
However, taking a mountain Merriam’s can be as difficult as killing an elk. Statistics compiled by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the 2012 turkey season (the most recent available) showed hunter success rates for over-the-counter (OTC) license holders at around 25 percent, with limited license holders achieving a much higher 55 percent harvest rate. Read more
For the last six years I’ve been privileged to hunt public lands Merriam’s turkeys in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains with Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Habitat Watch volunteer Rick Hooley. Although Rick makes his living as a fly fishing outfitter/guide, he’s also a crack turkey and elk hunter.
In a May 2015 Colorado Outdoors Online story “5 Tips for Hunting Merriam’s Turkeys,” I shared some of what I’ve learned about turkey hunting from Rick and other informed hunters/sources. Here I’ll expand on some of what was covered in the 2015 tips and add a few new ones for this year. Read more
Whether you hunt turkeys or simply enjoy hiking in Colorado’s backcountry, you need to be on the lookout for ticks. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other serious diseases. In this Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tip” video, you will learn a few precautions that you can take to prevent tick bites anytime you are hunting or hiking in tick-infested areas.
Colorado has two subspecies of wild turkey—the Merriam’s, also known as the mountain turkey, and the Rio Grande, primarily found in eastern Colorado. Merriam’s are wanderers and frequent ponderosa pine forests. The Rio Grande prefer cottonwood trees along riparian areas. Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) says Rio Grande turkeys are larger and easier to locate than Merriam’s, so hunting them is generally not as difficult.
Merriam’s turkeys were historically found in the mountain forests of Colorado, New Mexico and northern Arizona. They have been transplanted into the pine forests of Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota. Merriam’s can be found not only in ponderosa pine forest but also other vegetation types in elevations ranging from 3,500 to 10,000 feet. Read more
The spring snows continue to come but soon they will fade to the green leaves of a new season’s birth for Colorado. Turkey season is just a month away, and I find myself tuning calls, checking my old turkey vest and, at times, day dreaming about those gobbles at first light.
I thought about how we might approach this new season for the novice hunter and will work to provide some insight about what you should attempt to put in practice in the woods this spring. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the upcoming season: Read more
Colorado has two subspecies of wild turkey—the Merriam’s, also known as the mountain turkey, on the Western Slope and the Rio Grande on the Front Range. Turkeys are most often hunted during the spring, when their mating season occurs, with females laying a clutch of eight to twelve eggs that hatch in May.
Just as bull elk are more vulnerable to human hunters during their fall rut/mating season, male wild turkeys (called toms or longbeards) become more susceptible to hunting in the spring. The tom is identifiable by hair-like feathers, called a beard, on its breast and red (white and blue) head. Colorado has spring and fall turkey hunting seasons. Be sure to check the current regulation brochure for season dates.
The limit is two turkeys in the spring (one may be taken with a limited license and one may be taken with an over-the-counter license). One turkey may be taken in the fall. Hunters can harvest only tom turkeys in the spring with shotgun or bow. Either sex of turkey is fair game in the fall, and hunters may use rifles and handguns. During 2012, about 55 percent of limited-license hunters reported harvesting a bird, compared with just 25 percent of over-the-counter (OTC) or unlimited-license holders. Read more
Virtual scouting is important if you want to increase your chances of harvesting a big-game animal. The Colorado Hunting Atlas is a great tool, developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s GIS team, to help you achieve greater success in the field. In this Colorado Outdoors Online “Quick Tips” video, you will learn how to use the Colorado Hunting Atlas and see an overview of the main functions and features.
The “Gooble Obble Obble Obble!” rolled in through the front window of our Double Bull and The Shakes started on queue. We had watched two toms and two jakes follow six hens across the field for two hours. It was our third day of hunting the former Bonny Lake State Park. The birds were getting closer, strutting 75 yards in front of the blind.
“Gooble Obble Obble Obble!” They took their time, grazing on an abundance of tiny new grasshoppers all the way in. They were eyeing the decoys, inching closer but slowly. We were set up on a funnel that led to the next sunny field where they wanted to strut, and not calling. The Shakes were growing — my limbs twitched in the spastic tribal dance of the amped-up turkey hunter. I was comically helpless to stop it. If you know the magic of a turkey hunt, maybe you know this dance?
When Mitch Martin, manager at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, invited me to attend and photograph the grand opening of his park’s new archery range, I have to admit, I really didn’t know what to expect. The term “outdoor range” immediately evoked memories of summer camp back in middle school, which consisted of lobbing arrows at hay bales and flimsy, easel-mounted targets that toppled over in the slightest gust of wind.
What I discovered, however, is a modern, first-class shooting facility. Quite simply, Cheyenne Mountain’s archery range can be summed up in one word: awesome. Read more