Today’s blog post comes to us from Bob Lott, Producer of Intrepid Outdoors. Bob shares the story of a young woman with a lot of spunk who heads out west for the first time in search of her first Merriams Gobbler. Watch this hunt unfold and some great turkey hunting during next week’s episode of Intrepid Outdoors: Monday at 6:30 PM ET, Friday at 3 PM ET and Saturday at 12 PM ET.
Traveling all across this country allows me to meet a lot of very unique individuals. This week’s episode of Intrepid Outdoors is all about one of those people. While attending the 2012 NWTF convention in Nashville, Tennessee, I was confronted by a young lady named Addy York. Addy’s smile was about as big as she was, standing at just under five-feet tall. She was interested in hunting out west, and being part of a show based out of Cody, Wyoming, I decided to offer her a chance at a Merriams Turkey at Mike Schmid’s Solitude Ranch. I told her that I’d have to check with the boss before confirming the hunt, so she spent the next two days stopping by our booth to say hello and to make sure I didn’t forget about the offer I made to her. Her charm and persistence paid off when Mike agreed to let her come out to try her luck at her first Merriams.
Seeing New Things
Fast Forward to May of 2012. Addy and her Dad, AY York, flew into Rapid City, South Dakota where I met up with them to act as their personal tour/hunt guide. The ride to the ranch was filled with lots of laughter and joking around, but after many photo ops of everything along the way, we finally made it to the ranch. We decided to take a ride in a UTV to see how many turkeys we could hear. Notice how I said how many, not if we could hear any. The Solitude Ranch is beyond explanation with its beauty of dense ponderosa pines and red rock canyons, but the amount of game that runs wild all over the ranch is absolutely jaw dropping!
19-year-old Addy York and her father A.Y. stare down the barrel of a shotgun, ready to blast a Merriams turkey.
In just one evening, Addy was able to see her first Mule deer, Antelope and of course, Merriams Turkeys. After our trip around the ranch, we met up with Mike Schmid, who was entertaining some of his friends and family members. We discussed the next morning’s hunt plans and decided to get as much sleep as possible because the sun was due to peek over the Black Hills at about 5 a.m.
First Morning: Hens 2, Bob 0
The plan was to get set up near a known roost in our Ameristep Carnivore Blind well before daylight. As we sat waiting for the birds to fly down, it sounded kind of like a turkey zoo. The big awkward birds were gobbling to every sound, from coyotes howling, crows squawking to cattle mooing. I patiently waited for good camera light before I began my calling sequence; soft yelps, a few clucks, and my favorite — “the pterodactyl cackle” — which is my best attempt at a fly down cackle.
The birds were responding well, but they were taking their sweet time coming our way. At one point, we had two big Toms within a 100 yards. However, both birds opted to follow the better sounding callers, which just so happened to be a whole flock of Merriams hens. Addy was a little frustrated with my calling skills, but she still had a great time seeing hens come to within just a few feet of the blind. It was at this time that I decided to come clean and let her know what a couple of other young hunters had already named me that spring, “Bad Luck Bob.” Addy wasn’t too surprised after witnessing it first hand that morning. We didn’t give up, though. We kept trying for another two days before finally putting ourselves in the right situation on day four.
A Wet Tom Turkey For Addy
The fourth morning started out miserably wet and extremely sloppy. The area we were hunting was so muddy that we couldn’t get anywhere, so we decided to wait for a break in the rain before heading out. We got our wish at about 10 a.m, and jumped in the truck, making our way to the ranch. As we pulled in to the grounds of the Solitude, we noticed a group of birds that were making their way back up to the canyon cliffs away from us. We decided to let them get out of sight before making our move. Our plan was to get as close as possible before making a peep.
Once set up, AY started using his wing bone call and box call. The luring sounds immediately got one big Tom’s attention. The gobbler turned and headed in our direction, but there was one obstacle keeping him from closing the distance. That obstacle had a name and her name was Henrietta! The Gobbler, as excited as he was, turned and headed up the canyon with his female companion away from our location. We thought, once again, we’d been had. AY continued to call, though, so I continued to film and help call as needed. Suddenly, a Gobbler appeared without making a sound. We all just sat patiently still, waiting for the bird to make his way to our decoy. He eventually did just that. Addy was ready, but she wasn’t about to rush her shot. In fact, I thought she wasn’t going to shoot at all for a brief minute or two. Addy was using a Caldwell Dead Shot Field Pod and it served her well as she took aim and made a perfect head shot, dropping her first Merriams Gobbler in his tracks. As I filmed this young lady’s excited face, I couldn’t help but think back to the weekend she worked her magic on me, Mike Schmid and the whole Intrepid team to get herself out west to take her first Merriams Gobbler!
A.Y. York (left) and his daughter Addy came out west for the first time in search of Merriams Gobblers in Northeast, Wyoming.
High fives all around, and no sooner did we get our video work done, the rain began falling hard again. I guess it was meant to be! I’ve said it a hundred times, I’m not only very blessed to do what I do for a living, but on top of that, I get to meet some of the coolest people in this country. If it weren’t for taxes and bills, I’d do this for nothing.
I asked Addy if she’d like to say something in this blog, and the paragraph below is what she sent me. It truly defines her charming personality.
To Intrepid Outdoors,
“What an outstanding hunt! I have never experienced such a turkey hunt. Going to the Solitude Ranch and killing my first Merriams turkey was a trip I shall remember for the rest of my life. The Intrepid Outdoors team and I connected at an NWTF convention and after that I used my snake-charming technique. What do I call snake charming? A great big smile accompanied by my big brown eyes and my bubbly personality. Bob Lott was like, “putty in my hands” or as we say in Tennessee, “it was like butter on a biscuit.” We have been friends ever since. The lord blessed me that day with a hunting trip out west and some lifelong hunting buddies. Some people say I have a way of stealing people’s hearts. Well, Bob Lott and the Intrepid Outdoors team stole mine on this Merriams turkey hunt. I have never felt so proud to be hunting with such a great group of guys. Please join the Intrepid Outdoors team and this Tennessee girl as we go on an adventure to kill a Merriams turkey on the episode titled, “Spring Thunder.” And remember, big things come in small packages. For this 4-foot-10 girl knows how to knock those turkeys down.”