John's Journal... Entry 240, Day 1
THE TOUGHEST OF ALL TURKEYS
The First Hunt
Editor's Note: I've written four books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles about turkeys and turkey hunting. Two years in a row, I double grand-slammed on North American wild turkeys. I took two eastern's, two Merriam's, two Oceola's, and two Rio Grande's each of those years. Each year I travel the United States during the spring hunting wild turkeys. I believe there is such an illness as a "turkey addiction" because I have it. There's no other hunting sport I enjoy more than turkey hunting, and my dream always has been to take the Gould's turkey of Mexico and last year, I accomplished that dream. If you plan to take a Gould, I've found the place to go, the man to hunt with, and how to make your turkey-hunting dreams come true.
As the sky began to gray, promising the coming of the night, I noticed Raoul and I had passed the same tree, which apparently had been hit by lightning three times. We had left camp deep in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 1:00 p.m. and now it was almost 6:00 p.m. I had no earthly idea where I was, where camp was or how to get back. This was in the days before GPS and because I had a guide, I never thought I'd need a compass, but I had one in my pack. Although I hadn't taken a compass direction as we left camp, I always carry a compass when I hunt. Finally, I tapped Raoul, my 17-year-old Mexican guide, on the shoulder and tried to ask in English, which he didn't understand, which way is camp? Seeing that my guide had no earthly idea what I was asking, I brought the tips of the fingers on my right hand to the tips of the fingers on my left hand leaving a wide space to try and indicate tent. Raoul looked as though he understood. Once again, I made the sign of a tent, then pointed to my left and then to my right asking in sign language which way we needed to go to get back to camp? When Raoul shrugged his shoulders, indicating he didn't know, and I knew I was in deep trouble.
We were so far back in the Sierra Madre Mountains that I couldn't see any lights from any towns or villages in any direction. We never came across a road or a path, all we did was climb up and down mountains all night long. Finally, at 1:30 a.m. I heard a shotgun blast. I immediately dropped my pack, got my compass out, and took a compass reading from where I heard the shot come. I noticed that Raoul reached inside his pants and pulled out a .45 caliber single-action pistol. I didn't know what was about to happen. But he pointed the pistol up in the air and fired. As we waited in the stillness of the night, I heard the shotgun report again. This time I made sure I had an accurate compass reading on the direction I heard the sound coming from. I reached into my pocket, took out a small flashlight and read the direction, northwest.
I pointed in the direction that I knew we needed to travel, but Raoul grabbed my arm, shook his head and pointed in the opposite direction. I thought to myself, "This guy got us lost." I shook my head and pointed back in the direction where I knew the sound had come from. But Raoul insisted that we go the other way. Finally, I pointed to myself, then pointed in the direction that I was going to travel as if to say, 'I'm going this way, you go whatever way you want to go.' I walked in the direction where I had heard the shotgun fire and followed my compass. Reluctantly, Raoul tagged along behind me. We walked for 1-1/2 hours and finally I could see the glow from a campfire on top of a mountain. We went to the campfire and found six men drinking tequila and having a party. Raoul began to speak to them in Spanish and within about 10 minutes, we piled up in the back of their pick-up truck. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at our campsite just as the sun came up. My host, Allan Jenkins, president of the Lynch Game Call Company said, "Glad you made it back, John. We were just about to leave out to go turkey hunting. Grab your stuff and let's go!" I said, "You go ahead, I'll catch up with you after lunch." I crawled into my tent and passed out until 2:00 that afternoon.
TOMORROW: YOU'RE HUNTING THE GOULD'S TURKEY THE WRONG WAY