Sitting with my taxidermists – Edward and Mari Juarez, owners of The Flagg Group – at the annual Dallas Woods & Water Members Banquet and prior to dinner, we began to look over the auction items. Noticing a Merriam’s turkey hunt in Trinidad, Colo., I asked Mari if she noticed any trips or hunts we could not live without, since we have traveled many exotic places together.
Mari suggested I bid on that wild turkey hunt for 1 hunter, donated by a Texas hunting guide named Walt. Lacking a Merriam’s to complete my second turkey grand slam (4 subspecies of continental US wild turkeys – namely, Rio, Eastern, Osceola and Merriam’s), I asked Mari if I won, would she go with me and be an observer. She agreed to this plan. The only problem? Mari and I do not camp, nor do we glamp! As I travel the world hunting in the outdoors, camping – to me – is looking out the window of a 5-star hotel at the woods.
“My motto: If it does not flush … I do not go. ”
As the auctioneer’s gavel dropped and I won the hunt, Mari and I squealed and hugged as if one of us had just won a small-town homecoming queen pageant.
We soon learned, not reading the small print, that we had to take the hunt that spring and our accommodations were to be at the outfitter’s elk camp. There’s that word: camp. I called the outfitter to inform him that I had won the turkey hunt and that Mari was coming as an observer. Walt was delighted, since we all had been friends for more than 15 years. I reminded Walt that Mari and I do not camp. He said it was a “nice base camp” and to come on. Much to our hesitation, we decided to give it a try.
What could go wrong?
As the departure date grew near, Mari and I decided this was going to be a road trip to rival Thelma and Louise and yes, we were driving since it’s only 12 hours away from Dallas and plus, we would not be restricted to what we could pack for our 3-day trip. We crammed the Range Rover and took off.
Upon arrival, we met Walt and his son, Will, for lunch in Trinidad. We followed them to Walt’s hunting concession and I noticed the “port-o-let,” which in my mind equates to “no running water.” Mari and I were looking at each other … with much anguish.
Where were we sleeping? Walt showed us around to the dining area and kitchen next to the sleeping quarters, which were set inside an 18-wheel trailer – with what appeared to be comfortable beds, but no windows. I asked Mari, “Where are the closets and bathroom?”
Walt kept reminding me this was an elk camp and to make myself at home. My first homey touch was leaving my Vogue magazine in the port-o-let. After an hour of unpacking my vehicle, we filled up the trailer and barely had any room left for us. Trying to recover from our decision of having a real “camping experience,” I made a pact with Mari – as soon as I bagged my turkey, we were down the road. Agreed, sealed with an ET-pinkie touch!
Leaving camp with high hopes and Mari wishing me good luck, Walt and I set off to hunt for a Merriam’s turkey later that day, around 2 p.m. Arriving at the double-bull blind, I entered and noticed the chairs were comfortable for sitting many hours. All settled in and set-up, we began to hear gobbling from afar. Walt is an excellent caller and knew all the tricks of talking turkey.
The bird came to Walt’s calls.
Back at camp, Mari heard my shot. She asked Will if he thought it was a good shot from the echoes. He thought it was, and Mari shouted, “Great!” Dancing all the way back to the trailer, Mari began packing.
After I arrived in camp with my beautiful Merriam’s, Mari informed me she was all packed and ready to go! Walt asked where we were headed:”To Dallas”, we said. We had been on the scene for less than 5 hours.
I explained, “Walt, my mission is over here.”
We went back into Trinidad for an early supper. Mari and I thanked Walt for the hospitality and great hunt. We never looked back!
Did you know?
Merriam’s turkey tails and lower back feathers have white tips with purple and bronze reflections.
TIP: When entering and departing a blind, you must be completely silent. Often, when a hunting area is disturbed, the birds will not return.
Did you know?
Hunting Merriam’s turkey can be the most difficult turkey of all the 4 sub-species for the Grand Slam, because of the locale and habitat, set in the West.
TIP: Turkeys can see every movement. Remain perfectly still and wait for the perfect shot. I suggest a shooting stick for holding your shotgun and steady your shots. Nerves do play a big part in bagging your bird.