Lisa Thompson’s Merriam’s Turkey Hunt with Her Daughter Kelli
Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak Pro Lisa Thompson lives in Littleton, Colorado. Growing up, Lisa was fortunate enough to be in a family where hunting and fishing were major parts of their lifestyles. “My grandparents, uncles, aunts, Mom and Dad all liked the outdoors,” Thompson says. “Hunting and fishing were a way of life for our family.” Lisa’s husband, Keith, also grew up in Colorado in an outdoor family. Lisa hunts primarily big game, elk, antelope, mule deer, sheep, ducks, geese, pheasants and turkeys.
I was fortunate enough to take two turkeys in the spring of 2016. You legally can harvest two turkeys in Colorado, if you buy a license over the counter, and you draw a license. Usually you only can harvest one turkey, but if you’re lucky enough to draw one of the limited licenses, then you can take two birds. I drew a limited license in Julesberg and took a Rio Grande gobbler up there. I bought an over-the-counter tag and went down to Trinidad and took a nice Merriam’s gobbler there. The Rio Grande turkeys stay more in the river bottoms like eastern turkeys do, and the Merriam’s turkey is more of a mountain turkey; so, I was able to enjoy two different types of turkey hunts here in Colorado. Merriam’s turkeys are Colorado’s native birds, and Rio Grandes were brought in some years later. Now we have a really good population of Rio Grandes in Colorado too.
My first hunt was my Merriam’s hunt. I woke up on opening morning of the season and had my 14-year-old daughter, Kelli, with me on the hunt. As Kelli and I were walking in the dark, we heard some turkeys gobble. We moved in quietly to try to get as close to the roost as possible. I set-up decoys and did some soft purrs and clucks, hoping to have one of the gobblers come in and check out my decoys. Just as the sun was coming up, a turkey flew off the roost, landed in the bottom and started walking up the hill to Kelli and me; but he passed by us - too far for me to take a shot. We could tell by the gobbling that other turkeys were roosting with this one. One tom had jumped off the limb and helicoptered down right under the roost tree. The gobbler that we saw was walking toward the other gobblers. We could tell that the gobblers had gotten with hens, and they had no intention of coming to where we were.
Kelli and I backed out and worked our way around the gobblers and went up a little draw. We could tell by their gobbling that they were going up the ridge, feeding, strutting and staying with their hens. We managed to get about 300-400 yards in front of the turkeys and reach the top of the ridge ahead of the flock. After we got set-up, we started seeing hens and moved in-between the hens and the gobblers a little further back on the ridge. There were several gobblers in the flock, and I really wanted Kelli to take a bird. So, I told her to take the first shot, and then I’d try and take one of the other birds after she shot. Kelli shot and missed her gobbler. As the other birds headed into the timber, I bagged a longbeard at about 35 yards. Kelli was frustrated because she didn’t take her turkey, however, she got another chance but missed that one as well. Kelli’s young, and she gets excited. That’s what turkey hunting is all about for the hunter.
Since the turkeys often don’t give you very much time to look at them before you have to take a quick shot, Keli didn’t have a chance to set-up as she likes to do. We didn’t take a blind with us that time because when we’re hunting in the mountains, a blind can become heavy to carry. But Kelli took turkeys in 2013 and 2014. Kelli has been hunting with me and my husband since she was so small we had to carry her on our backs. Youngsters can hunt when they’re 10-years old in Colorado, and Kelli was 12 when she took her first turkey.
The game warden in Trinidad checked our turkey tags and got Kelli off to the side and talked to her. When we arrived at the hotel where we were staying, I asked Kelli what the game warden said. She smiled and answered, “He told me, ‘You really ought to thank your mother for taking you hunting. I’ve been a game warden 44 years, and I’ve never seen a mother take her daughter hunting. I’ve never seen a mother and daughter hunting alone either, just the two of them.’” The game warden’s name was Bob Holder. I didn’t think our hunt was anything special because Kelli hunts with me all the time. However, Officer Holder said, “I’ve seen a father and a son out by themselves, but you’re the first mother and daughter I’ve ever seen hunting alone by themselves.” Kelli doesn’t have a problem hunting by herself, but we hunt together when we can; and I think she was born with hunting in her blood. Kelli has a twin sister named Kassidi, and she likes to hike but not to hunt. I have to occasionally remind Kelli, “You have to go to school and have a real life. You can’t hunt all the time.” She doesn’t understand why she has to go to school and do other things most 14-year olds do. She just wants to stay outside and go hunting.