In the premiere of Intrepid Outdoors’ Video Blog, “Challenge of the Hunt,” Executive Producer Mike Schmid takes a beautiful Merriams Gobbler on the Solitude Ranch. Intrepid Outdoors Lead Video Editor Wade McMillin shares the story through video and the written word as Mike found himself on an unusual spring Turkey hunt.
Only in Wyoming will it snow in the late Spring, smack dab in the middle of Turkey Season.
Well, maybe it’s not the only place, but the Cowboy state probably stands by itself to at least guarantee unideal conditions for hunters looking to stay warm while chasing Gobblers in the month of May. That’s what Intrepid Outdoors Executive Producer Mike Schmid was up against when he and fellow producer Bob Lott were finally able to go hunting on May 4, 2010. The sun was blistering on the Solitude Ranch just the day before when Bob went out to film Blind Turtle owner Ed Fell bag his first Merriams. Little did Bob and Mike know, the conditions would be the complete opposite just hours later.
As the two geared up for the early-morning hunt, it was raining near Mike’s house, so they had to get a little creative for any hope to harvest a bird in the unusual conditions. So Bob and Mike chose the high grounds of the ranch, finding an attractive Turkey area up on a tall ridge. In fact, their spot was so elevated that the rain had turned into snow, blanketing the grassy woods that lie in front of their setup.
“It’s like Bob said, I think that’s why these birds like it in here,” Mike said. “It’s kind of a spot on this ridge where they’re out of the wind.”
Brisk breezes or strong currents didn’t play a factor whatsoever on the cold hunt as Mike took his place in front of a tall pine tree. Mike was plenty early with the sky still dark and Bob actually getting footage of a handful of birds nestled in their roosts on the early snowy morning. Like they’re known to do, the Merriams stayed roosted until day light broke. Eventually, a few flew down to stretch their wings and legs. That’s about when Bob’s calling intensified, using mouth calls from Flextone Game Calls. Mike was also attempting to lure in the birds with Felxtone’s Tramp Stamp, a pot call that easily mounts to the side of a shotgun. At first, their calls seemed to not work as a group of birds traveled in the opposite direction.
But as they say in the hunting world, it only takes one. In Mike and Bob’s case, it took two as a couple of large Merriams responded to their sequence and darted toward them. Mike kept cool, readying himself for the shot as Bob stayed persistent with the calling. And as good as a turkey’s eyesight is, the bigger of the two Toms kept coming at Mike. The large gobbler took a hard right. Mike immediately jumped into action, firing a shot. He missed, but quickly reloaded to dump the bird, recovering from what could’ve been a waste of a morning.
“Why did I miss that first shot?” Mike asked Bob.
“I don’t know but the second one was dead on,” the veteran cameraman replied.
It really didn’t matter that Mike had missed. Sure, hunters want to be one and done, but his second shot was nothing less than perfect. Mike didn’t seem displeased or upset as he walked toward his downed Gobbler. And while some hunters may have stayed indoors, Mike toughed it out and reaped the benefits. After all, he’s somewhat used to it being born and raised in the unpredictable climates of Wyoming.
“It was an absolutely gorgeous morning,” he said. “Cold, but gorgeous. … It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Tune in for this weeks episode of Intrepid Outdoors, as a father and his two sons enjoy a great Merriams turkey hunt on the Solitude Ranch. You can watch the show on Monday nights at 6:30 PM ET, Fridays at 3 PM ET and Saturdays at 12 PM ET.