The Cage Ranch is about two hours from my house in Parker, CO. The sprawling 40,000+ acres is home to about 1,000 head of cattle as well as a plethora of coyotes, bobcats, antelope, deer, foxes, dove, quail and turkey. I visited the ranch just over a half a dozen times over the last year. Trips to the land have become a source of complete relaxation for me. Bob, the ranch owner, is a friend and an avid sportsman. Bob is use to my many hunting related questions, and his adept responses are filled with insight that I covet. He is keenly aware of my lack of familiarity with certain types of hunting, and is more than willing to mentor me. For that, I am greatly appreciative.
The spring of 2013 meant that I would purchase my first ever turkey tag. The Cage Ranch would be the land where I would seek my intended quarry. I took a Thursday afternoon off from work in order to get some scouting done. Turkey habitat had been planted years back, and a flock of gobblers had been seen strutting up and down the dry creek that runs through the northern part of the land. As a result of this knowledge, we made our way northeast using the cottonwood trees as cover. Hundreds of pairs of mourning doves were feeding as the afternoon turned into evening. Trying to glass every hundred yards or so, we hoped that we would spot the large birds making their way up to roost. We also paid close attention to the sandy bottom of the dry creek, as turkey scat, drag marks and feathers would indicate that we were hunting in the right area. Every so often, Bob let loose a gobbler shaker call in order to see if we would receive a response from a roaming tom. Two miles into our walk we were left smiling but confused – there was no discernable sign of the elusive target. A rare and hard rain had just graced the ranch, so there were plenty of watering holes available. Without a defined hunt zone, we decided to speculate where turkeys would be come morning.
Four thirty am arrived quickly, and the hot pot of Folgers tasted pretty good. We downed a couple of MET-Rx bars, and made our way north to the creek. The sun was rising, the air was warm and we were armed with our Beretta shotguns loaded with HEVI-Shot Magnum Blend shells. We hoped that we could intercept the turkeys as they moved from the trees to the ground. Bob and I took cover in a group of trees just off the edge of the arid river bed. We sat back to back in order to provide a 360 degree view of the territory.
We glassed and called for over an hour, but soon realized that turkeys were not present. While there was some obvious disappointment we decided to change strategies and attempt a predator hunt. I had recently invested in a FOXPRO Wildfire II, and it was a perfect time to see if the electronic call worked. We mounted the speaker on a branch about 50 yards from our blind. I selected the Lighting Jack sound while cranking up the call’s volume to twenty. It did not take but a few minutes before a big yote appeared on the berm about 150 yards east of our position. My Howa Hogue Heavybarrel 1500 .223 was unloaded and propped up on its bipod to my left. I muted the call and reached for the rifle with the ammunition in my right hand. The coyote was running at us at a high rate of speed so my movements were measured. As I raised the rifle to stare down the scope, the coyote appeared 25 yards from our position. Fearing that he would bust us, I used my left hand to activate the Fox Pro. The coyote immediately turned to his right, and started to move toward the call. I chambered a round and took aim. My movement caused the coyote to suddenly change directions, and actually run towards Bob and me. Twenty five yards turned to 10 in a matter of seconds. At that range, the coyote spotted us, and began to cascade away from our position. My first shot missed high; the next two were not even close. Realizing that my marksmanship was less than stellar, I apologized to Bob for the obvious choke-job. We set up in a few more places, but had no success. As mid-morning approached, I thanked Bob for hosting me at the ranch, and headed back to the office.
Next year I plan to take time off work and dedicate a few additional days to preparing for my turkey hunt.