Bow-Hunting Montana Merriams

The five-hour drive from Bozeman to Glendive the morning after my 21st birthday was anything but enjoyable. As I fought through the headaches, which were only strengthened by the numbing view out the truck window, my mind was fixed on turkeys. We were headed to a ranch on the banks of the Yellowstone River, only a few miles outside of downtown Glendive, to bow-hunt Merriam turkeys.

Merriam turkeys in Glendive, MT

The days to follow were filled with frustrating blown set ups, due to impatience on behalf of two college kids hungry for turkey. Our lack of success was comforted by the scenery of the river-bottom ranch we called home for the week. Our mornings were filled with countless whitetail deer encounters, fields full of Canadian geese, heart-stopping flushes of rooster pheasants, and discouragingly wise turkeys.

Morning of day three brought us new hope. We had put a few birds on the roost the night before in some big

Merriam turkeys and a whitetail deer in Glendive, MT
cottonwoods on the edge of an alfalfa field, only a few hundred yards from the river. The alarms sounded and we were on our feet. 4am was an early wakeup call after sleeping in the ranch shop for a few nights.

We set up decoys in front of our blind, which we had put up the night before after sundown, and crawled inside to witness the morning unfold. It didn’t take long for the world in front of us to explode with life, as well as sunshine. Pheasants, turkeys, and deer, all took the stage like a scene out of Fantasia. Birds were present in the field but lacked any interest in our decoys, or my questionable calling.

Successful hunting day- merriam turkey in Glendive, MTHours melted away as the flock of turkeys seemed to cover every inch of the field, minus our “honey hole” corner. At 7am, it seemed as if they were finally headed our way! Working down a fenceline toward our ground blind, the turkeys closed the distance. As our cameras rolled, the big toms strutted their stuff trying to impress the hens. My heart was now at an unhealthy rate. The birds came within three yards, and I drew my bow back.

I held my pins on the side of one of the long beards and sent my arrow sailing. The arrow smacked into the side of the tom and sent him into an acrobatic move worthy of a Cirque du Soleil audition. The flock dispersed quickly and we lost sight of them all as they fled into the tall grass and cottonwoods. I was a mess, hootin’ and hollerin’ as we flipped back the ground blind and leapt into the morning sunshine.

After a long recovery effort through the thicket, we had our bird. My third Merriam turkey to date and one of the most memorable hunting trips of my life. My tomSuccessful hunting day- merriam turkey in Glendive, MT wore an 8-inch beard, and spurs just under an inch. Video of this hunt can be viewed at: