Found and hunted mainly in northern Mexico, the Gould’s turkey subspecies is on any gobbler fanatic’s lifetime hit list. The Gould’s (named after British ornithologist and artist John Gould, who identified the subspecies during his travels through Mexico in 1856) is a big bird, with gobblers commonly weighing 22 pounds or more. Many Gould’s gobblers have somewhat spindly beards and nubby spurs—products of the high-desert environment they call home—but their tail fans, ringed by brilliant white feather tips, are the largest of all the subspecies.
I hunted the Gould’s on Rancho Mababi, a 6,250-acre working cattle and sheep ranch owned by Roberto and Alice Valenzuela, in the rugged hills the Sonoran Desert. The south-of-the-border setting with ties to the Mexican Revolution, the hospitality of the Valenzuelas and the expertise of Ted Jaycox of Tall Tine Outfitters made it a memorable experience—but of course the highlight of the trip was hearing a Gould’s gobbles roll through the desolate landscape of Sonora, while I looked down the barrel of my Mossberg and wondered if this bird would put the cap on my royal slam.