From the very beginning of my archery hunting career, traditional archery has continued to remain at the forefront of my goals, hopes, and dreams. As often as possible, I accept the challenge of hunting with my Striker Sport longbow. So when Dustin and Rich from Big Horn Outfitters extended an invitation to help build an addition on the lodge and possibly get a chance to arrow a Merriam longbeard, I jumped at the opportunity. Helping a friend out, and turkey hunting with a longbow – it was a win-win situation that I couldn’t pass up.
After a quick six-hour flight, I was on Wyoming soil once again. Hunting turkeys out west in the Wyoming wilderness is quite different than turkey hunting back east. It involves lots of driving, scouting and trying to locate birds. But before long we had a group of jake’s, a tom, and a couple hens spotted next to a creek that was anywhere from 20 to 30 feet wide and 3 to 10 feet deep.
Unfortunately the birds were on the other side of the creek. However, we decided if we could sneak down against the creek bank there was a chance we could call them within bow range. Crouching behind turkey fans, we made our way until we were in position. I was right on the edge of the creek while my cameraman was about 12 feet behind me. Initially we couldn’t see the turkeys, but after a few calls, he popped up on a little hill strutting his stuff. The plan was to get him so fired up that he’d either fly across the creek or follow the creek bank right down to our ambush spot.
A couple dozen yelps, clucks, and purrs and the plan worked like a charm. We had him fired up, strutting and gobbling his beautiful red head off! With all the commotion, one of his hens decided to come investigate. She was very vocal, so the gobbler naturally followed right in behind her. Luckily for us, the hen worked all the way down the creek bank to about 10 yards. However, the longbeard did not want to come all the way in. He hung up about 18-25 yards out. I knew I was going to have to draw slowly, lean out and make a longer shot than I anticipated. It was a shot I had practiced hundreds of times. I picked a spot on his body to aim and released the arrow. I watched the fletchings spiral towards the bird and strike with a loud thud. The arrow buried into the turkey’s vitals, sending him into the air before crashing to the ground. After 3-years of turkey hunting with a longbow my bird was finally down.
The only problem was my turkey was laying dead on the opposite side of a deep creek. We devised a plan to avoid the deepest part, but it looked like getting wet was inevitable. So, barefoot and wet, I proudly made my way toward my beautiful longbeard – my first traditional archery turkey! The beauty of the white-tipped feathers, the Wyoming scenery, and the raw adrenaline of such an exciting hunt with my longbow left me with memories that will last a lifetime. Fortunately we will get to relive it over and over thanks to the great work of my cameraman and the Bowhunt or Die web show. Watch for this hunt on an upcoming episode soon!
Special thanks to Dustin DeCroo and Rich Sweeny of Big Horn Outfitters for the opportunity of a lifetime.