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Author Topic: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?  (Read 2143 times)

Offline Skibbs

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New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« on: October 23, 2019, 11:01:53 AM »
I am completely new to hunting unless you count using a pellet gun to pick off squirrels and chipmunks getting into my garden, lol. I have always wanted to learn to hunt and be able to pass it down to my children, 6 and 1, and I finally have the means, motive, and the right location to do so since I moved to CO in 2017. I imagine turkeys may not be the easiest to start off with but I enjoy challenges and am happy just to be outside in some of the most beautiful country in the USA. I am an avid backpacker and fisherman and am comfortable in the backcountry so I want to expand my passion for outdoor recreation to hunting (my wife is thrilled I found another money-sucking interest, lol). Anyway, after researching here is the setup I am looking to purchase:

Firearm:
Mossberg 500 tukey/deer combo 12ga with 24" vented barrel - will pattern with Carlson's Longbeard XR Choke and 3" Winchester Longbeard #5 1-7/8oz
Is upgrading to the turkey/deer 835 combo for a 3.5" shot worth it, especially if I want to use it eventually for deer?

Turkey Calls:
Crystal Mistress Pot Call
Hooks Mouth Call - Executioner 2

Locator Calls:
Harrison Hoot'n stick
Harrison Crow Call

I live about 40 miles SW of Denver and would like to bag a mountain Merriam although I am fully prepared to have my hopes and dreams dashed with an empty pack lol. I am not easily deterred and always welcome a good challenge, learning new skills, and being as prepared as possible since I generally do recreational backcountry activities alone (until my wife and kids can join me anyway). I figure I have all winter to practice my calls, research areas to hunt, purchase some clothing, get comfortable with my firearm, take hunters ed, etc etc.  I wanted to get an OTC tag and hunt public land close to home the first time but am really second-guessing whether this is the best idea since while Pike National Forest is in my backyard (was thinking GMUs 501 or 511), I would imagine all the front range GMUs get hit very hard. The vastness of the public land here has me a bit overwhelmed as to where to scout and hunt but have started poking around with OnX maps and google earth to identify potential areas (boy I wish I could tell from imagery what trees are ponderosa's vs douglas fir vs cedar). Do my chances increase substantially finding a GMU with public land further away from the major cities or would something close but doing a lot of legwork yield me the same chances? I have no major issues backpacking at elevation 10 miles a day with 3k elevation change so I figure I can cover a lot of ground in a day on public land.

While I am looking at onx maps and the overlay of turkey ranges they cover a LOT of ground it looks like and everywhere I look it all looks the same to me and tough to tell where water sources will be in the spring. To me it looks like the best bet is to wander up drainages calling but I have heard that its better to call a turkey uphill rather than downhill? Along ridges its tough to find any meadows or flat spots where turkeys may strut, is this just the nature of Merriam territory and even the smallest of meadows or flat areas are worth a shot?  Most of the advice I find in books and internet are focused on easterns or rios but I enjoy the mountains so its Merriams for me.

On a side note i'm generally an introvert, have no friends or family here in CO other than my own, and backpack and fish backcountry by myself so I literally have no resources as far as knowing someone who already hunts so I am looking forward to learning through reading/internet and getting feet on the ground. Thanks for this great forum resource!  if anyone in CO is looking for a hunting buddy or wouldn't mind having me tag along I would be very interested!

Offline Ctrize

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2019, 11:34:01 AM »
Welcome to the fraternity.This forum is quite extensive and I am sure some CO hunters will chip in.The fact you are mobile is a huge bonus.I would find out where the birds are wintering through the DNR most will be on private properties then connect the dots as far as spring dispersal and public land in the vacinity of those grounds.Snow melting can effect dispersal so hunting later in the season  a be a bonus.Groups of wintering birds can be quite large maybe a knock on a door might gain you access as many farmers here in Mich look at them as a nuisance. Good Luck

Offline Bowguy

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2019, 07:24:35 PM »
First welcome. Second thing is you came to the right place, there’s tons of knowledge here and great guys willing to help.
My advice is forget the longbeards. They’re too unforgiving.
When are you planning to start hunting turkey ?

Offline FL-Boss

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2019, 08:04:38 PM »
Your equipment is fine. Don't worry about 3.5in shells.. most guys that have a 3.5in gun end up shooting 3in anyway. Shoot a few 3.5in shells and you will see why.
Your location is great, lots of birds in those parts....great country, in my top 3 for sure. Not a lot of pressure and room to roam.  I have killed a few just south of that area.
You should have no problem...those Merriam's like gobble a lot. Don't over complicate it, just do a  few scouting missions in the weeks before season opens. Boots on the ground, look for sign and listen. They are around there.

Offline Sir-diealot

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2019, 09:46:40 AM »
Welcome to The Disease" Like Bowguy said " ...there’s tons of knowledge here and great guys willing to help." they were instrumental in helping me get my first turkey this past Spring. Great bunch here. I wish you the best of luck.
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Offline Greg Massey

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2019, 10:02:04 AM »
Welcome to the forum , turkey hunting is addicting and a passion for all of us on the forum. Agree don't mess with the 3 .5 gun, the 3 inch will do all you want in the turkey woods, in the future as you upgrade your calls and gun , look at getting yourself a 20 gauge , you will enjoy carrying that gun in the mountains and with the right choke and shell it's as deadly as the 12 gauge ... Good Luck ...

Offline Skibbs

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2019, 11:42:34 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement and advice.  I don't plan to start hunting until next spring and have already began scouting (really just driving around areas that look interesting and hiking to various ridges to glass just to understand the lay of the land a bit better). 

So for merriams in the Spring, are they really just a bunch of small dispersed groups running around so you gotta move around a lot if you haven't found a specific roosting spot?  Are there any specific books relating to merriam tactics in the mountains I could read?  Everything I found just seems to be generalized and to me is seems that the landscape for merriams would require different tactics.  Thanks again!

Offline FL-Boss

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2019, 04:33:48 PM »
just find where they are roosting in the weeks leading up the season. They will generally stay in the same spot every night, unless something messes with them. Merriam's like to talk... and they do it pretty much all day in the spring. Makes it a lot easier when compared to my home birds that tend to shut down an hour after fly down.

Offline Double B

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Re: New hunter - am I in over my head or ready for a thrill?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2019, 10:05:27 PM »
You're on it.  Get near hearing of roost areas early mornings in spring, it may take a few seasons to learn the area and birds but you'll get it.  Your ability to cover ground and some glassing will help you out too.   Best of luck, you will pick up a lot of tips here.  :turkey2:
Followed by buzzards