I have worked hard and long at getting a Colorado turkey, but have been unsuccessful so far. Many miles of hiking and searching for turkeys in the Colorado hills have allowed me see some turkeys, but never get close enough for a shot. It’s been a lot of work but no result.
For this reason, I was thrilled when a friend offered to take me turkey hunting on private property. The property owners knew where turkeys were on the property and told us right where to go. My friend had already been to the property with his two boys, and between the three of them, they were 3-for-3. I was excited for this great opportunity to finally get a bird!
I left my house at 2:30 am and met my friend and another friend at 3:00 am. We were at the property by 5 am. My friend told me exactly where to go while they went off around another way to try and get a turkey as well. The weather was definitely poor. After a mild spring with barely any snow, this morning was overcast and snow was starting to fall. The ground was just barely covered but was just wet under the pines trees. Not the best weather for turkeys, but we were still hopeful.
I quietly snuck around the horse barn on the property and into the woods. I say woods, but really it was a sparse covering of pine trees. There was a lot of open space between the trees with small meadows all scattered throughout. While I had never been there before, my friend showed me on my OnX map right where to go, and by 5:20, I had hiked in and picked a place to set up. I put out my hen and jake decoy on the edge of a small meadow and settled down under a nearby pine.
It was a perfect property. We don’t know that last time that anyone had hunted on this property before this year, and there were a ton of turkeys around. The last time my friend was there with his son he had roosting turkeys come out of the trees, less than 20 yards away. I was hoping for a similar situation! I had been warned that the owners had two horse on the property, but with close to 100 acres, we didn’t think we would even see the horses. With the weather, we hoped they would be near the barn and so we didn’t think about it much as we got out to hunt.
As it began to get light, I became more and more excited. First one gobble, then another, and another until I lost count how many I heard. It seems there was a large flock farther off to my left, but I had heard a couple gobbles immediately to the left and right of me. I was directly in the middle of a flock.
At around 6:15, I still had not heard or seen any turkeys coming off the roost around me, but I did see that larger group off to my left come down and head away from me off to the lake….right where my friends were waiting! I knew they were going to get a shot!
Sure enough…. A couple minutes later, a shot rang out. I saw off in the distance some turkeys running to the south side of the property and minutes later a text confirmed that the first turkey was down. Now it was my turn.
Suddenly about 40 yards in front of me, I saw movement. I was immediately on alert. But much to my dismay, instead of a turkey, I saw two horses slowly making their way through the trees. At first they didn’t see me, and so just slowly moved along looking for something to nibble on, but soon, they noticed my decoys.
I will give this to the horses…. they were curious. They cautiously made their way towards the decoys to check them out and then, when they were about 15 yards away, they noticed me hunkered down under the tree. At first I think I startled them, but I hoped that once they saw me they would lose interest, wonder off, and leave me alone with the turkeys. No such luck! As turkeys continued to gobble on my left and right, these two horses made their way right over to me and wanted to say hi. I tried to shoo them off, but they were fairly clueless to my desperate attempts. After a minute of two of trying, I decided to do the whole “ignore” strategy. I turned my head the other way and didn’t look at them.
After a couple minutes I hoped my strategy was working, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the horses start to move away from me. After a minute more, I turned to check out the progress…. and much to my dismay (and slight humor), I saw one of the horses go over to my jake decoy, pick it up out of the ground, and toss it around like a dog with a chew toy!
That was it. I knew my hunt was over. Once again my horse “friend” came over and wanted to play. I knew that I couldn’t shoot with the horses nearby, so my only hope was to get the horses out of the area and come back to still have an opportunity for a turkey. That hope was short-lived.
I stood up, and as soon as I did, four turkeys flew out of the tree 10 yards to my right and disappeared through the air down to the south. Moments later two more turkeys flew out the tree 10 yards to my left and followed the first four away. I had been in a perfect location with a perfect set up and had not even gotten a shot!
I walked back to the barn….and those two horses followed me the entire way. My two friends were waiting by the barn….. and were happy to show off their turkey. I showed them my two new horse friends and the promptly locked the horses in the pasture! But the damage was done. With the poor weather, the turkeys were not as vocal and active, and with seeing me and the hearing the other shot, had decided other places were better. We spent some time that morning looking for any turkeys on that property, but soon discovered that all the turkeys were gone. The hunt was over.
My turkey hunt had been thwarted by a horse. My best opportunity ever to finally harvest a turkey had ended in a humorous, but epic failure. My only consolation is that turkey season isn’t over yet. Turkeys beware, your horse friends won’t always be around!