Quest for 450: The Search for 449

After a fun, long road trip, Mike Pentecost and Terry Sullivan arrive in Hulett, Wyo., and meet up with Brad Greba of Whitetail Creek Outfitters. On this trip, Mike was going for his final two birds with which to wrap up his quest for 450 turkeys harvested before he turns 50 and planned to hunt both Montana and Wyoming. The decision is quickly made to hit Montana first, so they drop their gear and head out to buy a license and give it a try.

The wind was up that first afternoon as is typical in Big Sky country, and while the hunters didn’t get on any birds, it gave them a chance to study the terrain they would be hunting and make a plan for the next morning.

The group has a long drive to get to their hunt spot and with the sun rising so early, it is a short night of sleep. At sunrise, the men hear birds both to their East and their West, but it sounds like there are more birds toward the West. The hunters begin to head down into a valley where birds sound plentiful, and Brad suggests they set up on a flat and just try to call the birds to them.

“It seemed like it might work at first even though we were still a little farther from the birds than I would have originally set up. But you never try to guide the guide,” says Mike. The gobblers would work their way, and then they would head back the other direction.

Eventually, the group gets up to set closer to the birds, but quickly come to a point of cover that won’t allow them to go any farther. They try to call the toms to them, but the birds have had enough of the calling and continue to just drift away. Mike suspected they were with hens since they stayed in the same basic area and never came in despite a lot of response to his calls.

After the turkeys are gone, Mike and the other men slip into the bottom where the birds had been and discover an old road bed where they had lingered and scratched around off the roost. This is information Mike would keep in mind as he hunted later. Might be a spot to return to if they don’t have any luck later that afternoon.

In fact, the decide to let the spot rest for the day and head back to Wyoming to give that a try.

The afternoon the group enjoys a close call after calling a gobbler in from a long distance and getting it to cross a valley and a creek. The tom marches right up to a Dave Smith Decoy Mike had set out as he offers up some soft clucks and purrs and Terry lets Mike know that he’s “on him” with the camera as the bird approaches.

Suddenly, a deer bounds out of the woods and spooks the bird, which slips off unscathed.

“Why didn’t you shoot that bird?” Terry asked Mike.

“You never gave me the go ahead to shoot,” Mike replied in frustration. Terry had assumed Mike knew he could shoot when he told him he was on the bird, while Mike had been waiting for an explicit “shoot” command from his cameraman.

“It was a lesson learned to better communicate and understand my cameraman better,” Mike said. We were done for the day!

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