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.Read more
Category Archives: Turkey Hunting
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.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 hunting 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.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
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?
Anyone who’s heard the echoing “Gobble-obble-obble!” of a longbeard at dawn during April knows something primordial lives in the woods, hills, mountains and valleys of this country and continent. It’s an explosive vocalization, one like no other, that my friend David Petersen says is, “at once high-pitched, deep-throated, melodic and maniacal, with emphasis on the last quality.”
The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is endemic to North America and evolved more than 11 million years ago. While they have no close relatives, they’re cousins of pheasants. And not unlike a male pheasant, the wild tom, with his bold tail fan and bright wattle, is one of a kind. Prized for his keen senses and fabled intelligence, a tom can reach 30 pounds or more with a wingspan pushing 5½ feet. Read more
— Article and photos by David Lien
My first experience chasing gobblers was during May 2008 in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. I was with renowned elk (and turkey, it turns out) hunter, David “Elkheart” Petersen, who also founded the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the first official BHA chapter. Although we roosted a tom that evening, the next morning he gobbled a few more times before disappearing. We didn’t encounter another turkey that day.
David is well-versed in the nuances of mountain turkey hunting, like his friend Ed Dentry, a former Rocky Mountain News outdoors columnist. Both are aficionados of the daunting task of harvesting toms with longbows (i.e., real bows, not space-age catapult devices Petersen calls “wheelie bows”). Dentry, who hunted turkeys with David that spring, too, shed some light on Petersen’s outlook on life and hunting. The following are excerpts from Dentry’s May 8, 2008 newspaper column: Read more
CPW Field Journal
When it comes to outdoors expertise, no one understands Colorado’s fishery and wildlife resources better than Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s diverse staff of wildlife managers, park rangers and biologists. For these dedicated individuals, working for CPW is not just an occupation but a way of life. When they’re not enforcing fish and game laws, patrolling state lands or conducting fish and wildlife research, most CPW employees are avid sportsmen and women who spend their leisure time hunting and angling throughout the state. Here, CPW staff share their personal stories and experiences, provide on-the-ground field updates and offer a unique, “inside” perspective on all things hunting and fishing in Colorado.
In this segment of CPW Field Journal, Southwest Regional Manager Patt Dorsey explains how the solitude of hunting helps her to de-stress and escape everyday life.
Here’s what you need to know for the upcoming spring and fall seasons: Read more