A few days ago, I wrote a story about my Wild Turkey Grand Slam in 2004, but it doesn’t stop there. I decided to go after the Gould’s turkey to complete the Royal Slam. At that time, the only place you could hunt them was in Mexico, so I searched the different outfitters who provided those hunts and decided to hire Brad Faulk of Rio Sonora Outfitters. Brad was a biologist in Arizona, and he also took hunters across the border into the mountains of Mexico for guided deer and turkey hunts. Brad was my guy, so I made all the necessary arrangements to set my plan in motion.
Since I needed to fly into Tucson, I scheduled a few days ahead of the hunt to visit my Aunt Jean, Uncle John, and cousins. I’m so glad I did because we had a great visit and got caught up on our families – but I could hardly wait for Brad to pick me up so I could get that Gould!
When Brad picked me up, we crossed the border at Douglas, Arizona, and headed towards the interior of Mexico. Within a few hours, we were in the mountains. We finally arrived at the ranch, which would be our home for the next few days. Thankfully, there was a water tank, so we had running water and a toilet. They also had a generator that supplied power for lights at night, so we had all the comforts of home. There were two young fellows from Mississippi that were together (college students) and five other guys from the Tucson area that were all old friends. I was the odd man out again.
The next morning, we headed out on four-wheelers with one guide to every two hunters. When we got to our destination, we quickly set up and started calling. Soon, two turkeys came into our set-up, and one had an eight or nine-inch pencil beard. I could tell it was a bearded hen because she had a pale blue head and no spurs on her legs. I passed up on shooting this bird since I didn’t come all the way to Mexico to kill a hen! When I didn’t shoot, my partner didn’t either; when the birds left, he asked me why I didn’t shoot, and I told him I wanted a gobbler, and that was a hen. He said he didn’t shoot either, because he knew something must have been wrong for me to pass on it. We returned to the ranch for lunch without a bird, hoping the afternoon would be better.
That afternoon our guide took us to a different location, and we settled in for the evening hunt. In Mexico, it is legal to hunt over bait. They had a feeder out, and it was filled with corn. When the feeder went off, it wasn’t long before eight long-beards came running in to claim their share of corn – right in front of us. I picked out the largest bird and shot. To my surprise, I killed two adult gobblers with only one shot (which was also legal in Mexico, but not in Kentucky). It took me a minute to process what I had just done since it happened so fast! One bird was 19 pounds, with an eleven-inch beard, and .6250- and .5-inch spurs. The second bird was also 19 pounds, with a 10.375-inch beard, and ¾ inch spurs on both legs. I got two fantastic birds with one shot. I had a great story to tell!
Since 2004 I have registered most of my birds with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) which I am a card-carrying member. When registering these Goulds, I realized I had harvested five of the six different subspecies in the world, and after I got the Royal Slam, I thought to myself: “Self, you’ve got to get them all!” My next story will be about the World Slam!