Field Notes: Desert Gould Mine

Hunter and conservationist Gene Hopkins heads to Sonora, Mexico, in pursuit of Goulds’ turkey.

I have always liked turkey hunting in the afternoon. This afternoon I went back to the same ridge that I hunted this morning. There were just too many hens for there not to be a gobbler or two.

I left the ranch at 3pm and Jorge drove me back down the ranch road and dropped me off at the base of the hill. I climb as quickly and quietly as a flatlander can.

I found an old, old unopened pack of Lohman diaphragm calls in my vest that Brad Lohman had given me many years ago. Why not? I settle in and pull out the Lohman call.

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These calls sound great! I cluck, purr, and do anything that might sound like a foraging turkey and sit back to wait.

Not 30 minutes go by and I see a large body turkey coming across the drainage and up toward me! I can see the beard almost immediately.

The old gobbler feeds along to about 20 yards from me, and then I see a second gobbler coming up behind him! Could this be another opportunity for a double just 6 days after doubling In Nebraska?

A bird in the hand crosses my mind. I have never killed a Gould’s Turkey so why chance it. I pull the trigger and the big old gobbler drops instantly.

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But then the second Tom decided to run straight at me! He passes me at 10 feet running up the hill behind me. I stand up and peek around the tree and there he is standing at 25 yards. One quick shot and I have my second Mexico Gould’s turkey.

Thanks to God for allowing me the opportunity to have such experiences. Thanks for great friends like Tachi and Jorge for being great friends and wonderful hosts.

Now the long 4 hour wait for Jorge to come back to pick me up. I think I will play with my call some more.

For more information about hunting Gould’s Turkeys in Sonora, Mexico, contact Hopkins at gene@archerycollecting.com.

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Editor’s Note: Special thanks to John Maxwell for suggesting we include Gene’s field notes in The Report.

The Gould’s Turkey

The largest of the 5 subspecies and somewhat resembling the Merriam’s turkey, the Goulds’ have longer legs, larger feet, and larger center tail feathers than any of the other wild turkey subspecies in North America.

Gould’s differ by having distinctive white tips on the tail feathers and tail rump coverts which usually separate to show an “eyelash” appearance. Lower back and rump feathers have copper and greenish-golden reflections, not like the faintly iridescent. velvety black found on the Merriam’s.

Gould’s body plumage is said to be somewhat blue-green in coloration. Adult females have a less pronounced metallic greenish and reddish sheen and are more purplish. The Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in Mexico are the center of the Gould’s turkey Mexican range, extending south from the U.S./Mexico border.

Populations exist in Chihuahua, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Jalisco and Coahuila. In the U.S. Gould’s turkeys are found in the Animas and San Luis mountains of New Mexico and in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.

Mountain ranges where Gould’s are found orient north and south with elevations ranging from 4,500 to 6,500 feet in the U.S. and over 9,800 feet in Mexico. Turkey habitat can be rough with steep and rocky canyons.

Source: NWTF Bulletin No. 5

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Gene Hopkins is a life-long resident of Bartholomew County in beautiful southern Indiana. A hunter/fisherman/trapper since a young bow, Gene has traveled extensively for his outdoor pursuits across North America from Alaska to Mexico. Gene is a Past-President of the Indiana Bowhunters Association, current President of the Indiana Sportsman’s Roundtable, life member of Indiana Bowhunters Association, Idaho State Bowhunters, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Indiana Hunter Education Association, National Bowhunter Education Foundation, and a Patriot Member of the National Rifle Association.

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