With only one more bird to go in Mike Pentecost’s quest to take 450 turkeys before he turns 50 on May 29, the hunter, along with his cameraman Terry Sullivan and outfitter Brad Greba of Whitetail Creek Outfitters, left Montana and crossed back into Wyoming where Brad’s operation is based.
“It had been such a long season with a lot of challenges and successes," said Mike. "I was a little nervous, but also extremely positive, that we were going to find number four fifty and complete this goal like I set out to."
The very same afternoon after killing his Merriam’s in Montana, Mike and his crew found themselves scouting for birds in Wyoming when they spotted a lone gobbler in the distance. Mike began calling to see if the turkey was interested, but it was’t and it soon disappeared from sight.
Mike does, however, got a hen cranked up, and their calling together draws in the sounds of a gobbler also approaching. The guys realized after it was too late that they weren’t really set up right for the camera and when they got up to reposition, they accidentally spooked the hen and/or gobbler because everything went dead. As dark approached and they prepared to call it a day, they walked out on a rim to listen. Two birds were gobbling from the roost out in front of them.
“We knew where we were going to start the next morning,” Mike said.
Day Two in Wyoming
That next day, while the birds don’t gobble hot and heavy, the men are surprised during their first setup when a gobbler that had been otherwise silent suddenly appearsed right in front of them.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mike. “I just knew, ‘here we go’ this is going to be a quick hunt.” But it wasn’t. As quickly as the tom approached, it also got nervous when it didn’t see the hen it thought should be there and abruptly turned and walked away.
So much for Merriam’s always being easy to kill! In the end, they are still wild turkeys.
Mike kept hitting his crystal friction call and another gobbler they had responding earlier suddenly sounded off to their right.
The problem was, even though they could hear the gobbler drumming, meaning it was close, the camera wasn’t set up to get good footage of the bird coming in before it would be shot. Mike worried that this gobbler would respond like the other when it didn’t see a hen and take off, so he gambled and quickly set a hen decoy out in front of them.
The gamble paid off with one hitch, the turkey came right in and passed right by still out of sight of the camera’s lens.
“He was only twenty steps away,” said Mike. “I could’ve shot him, but the camera didn’t have him at all so I had to hold off.” That one was painful. Four hundred and fifty had just came and gone!
Mike calls and the bird turns back, but this time hangs up just a little farther than Mike is comfortable shooting.
“My mind was trying to make him ten yards closer than he was. He was just out of range in my opinion, and I am the one who would have to live with the decision if I had pulled the trigger and made a bad shot on him. So I let him walk,” Mike said.
He would ponder that decision throughout the day, knowing he made the right call, but still wondering if that was going to be his best opportunity to finish things out, for as the day wore on, the winds picked up and the hunting didn’t produce much action the rest of the day. They did, however, hear a tom gobbling from the roost as it began to grow dark. The gobbler was just 150 to 200 yards away from a blind they had built from brush that afternoon.
They had a starting spot for the next day.