Hey everyone, this is Roger De Rok and this is my first post here at Son Of Grok. I want to start by saying thank you to SoG for inviting me to contribute to his website. I hope everyone finds my posts as interesting and entertaining as the classic SoG content. Here we go!
When I was young and still living at home, my father took me on several hunting trips every year. I always looked forward to these outings since it meant getting away from home, spending some time outdoors, camping, and in some cases I got to miss school. My dad’s brother also came with us most of the time, so it was a family event where we got to do some bonding. My dad and my uncle grew up hunting together since they were small children living in rural Northern New Mexico. Being exposed to this at a young age meant that I learned to shoot guns at an early age and took Hunter Safety courses so I was able to begin hunting with my own licenses at a very young age. We hunted just about everything you can get a license for in NM (and sometimes Colorado) and always had tons of wild game meat in our freezers and I’ve always loved eating it. During my high school years I became more interested in music, started my first bands, and my interest in hunting went away. When I moved to Albuquerque in 1999, hunting was something I never really thought about doing anymore.
Fast forward to present day. In late 2008 I went Primal and began focusing not only on what I eat, but also where it comes from. My thoughts about hunting started to return. There are many advantages to it. You get all natural, organic meat. This means that aside from the animal itself being healthier than your conventional grocery store meat, you yourself also get the health benefits from eating this meat. The second being that if you’re hunting large game, you get large amounts of meat at a fairly inexpensive price if you’re willing to put some time and work into it. You also get a break from your daily life routine, get to spend some time in the quiet outdoors, and get some exercise at the same time. From a personal perspective, you’re also eating a happier animal. I feel it’s much more respectful to animals as a meat eater to kill it yourself than to eat animals raised specifically for food in a CAFO. This animal got to live an animal’s life in the wild, did some breeding, and didn’t live some miserable life in a pen stacked upon other animals. Plus, you get to use as much of the animal as you want with little going to waste. I decided that I need to get back into hunting ASAP, especially since my father is now in his mid-seventies and I need to spend as much time with him as I can and also give him the opportunity to pass down his knowledge and skill in this area so I can continue to do this on my own for several years to come.
My father had double knee replacement surgery, then surgery on one hand for carpal tunnel and a pinched nerve, then had an accident and broke his other hand, so 2009 was basically a bust as far as hunting goes. We decided that spring turkey in 2010 was where we were going to get started again. I was excited about this because turkey hunts, along with antelope hunts, were when I had the most fun when I was a kid. It also had been about 15 years since I last killed a wild turkey. Another big bonus is that the 2nd turkey tag was free this year, so we could bag as many as 4 between the 2 of us.
I took some time off of work so we can hunt the first 3 days of the season. We went to Northern NM to areas near El Rito and Tres Piedras, but we didn’t see anything. No turkey, no tracks, no scat…nothing. I’d go as far as to say the first 2 days were a disaster. Northern NM got hit pretty hard with snow this year, and the winter lasted pretty late in the year. The first day we high centered my dad’s truck in a snowdrift in the mountains near El Rito and ended up being stuck there about 5-6 hours and had to dig ourselves out of the snow. Luckily some locals were up there and had some long shovels in their truck and made short work of us getting out after we’d been stuck for several hours. The second day, we got stuck in mud for another hour or so near Tres Piedras, then as we were driving through a small town later that day, my dad hit one of those concrete construction barriers with his tire which blew it out and I had to change it. There goes another hour. Third day there was no major disaster, however we didn’t see any signs of turkey and were completely discouraged.
After the first few days were a bust, we found a couple more days in my schedule where we could make time to go hunt again before the season. Two weeks later my dad decided to take us up near Guadalupita, NM (most people have never heard of it, it’s near Mora, NM) where he grew up. A lot of the land belongs to relatives of ours and the area we went to belongs to my dad’s cousin and we have permission to be up there. These are the same mountains that my Grandfather herded sheep alone for several weeks at a time at the age of 6. My father grew up hunting in this area and knows it like the back of his hand. My father even became a bit emotional at one point when he saw an Aspen tree where my brother carved his and my dad’s name in that was dated 1984. This was special because my brother passed away in 1988 when I was 7. We saw lots of game that day. Elk, deer, bear, and finally in the late afternoon we saw some turkeys and bagged this guy:
We drove up one of the roads (which are extremely rough, by the way) and came across a meadow where this Tom was hanging out with 2 or 3 hens. They saw the truck and immediately ran off. I got out of the truck and tried to follow them, but knew they were gone. My dad parked further down the road and began using his turkey call and this guy gobbled back and would not stop. I was farther up the hill from my dad and started calling too and his gobbling got louder and louder. I figured I’d sit there and call, while my dad called from down below, and maybe if we were lucky and he kept coming toward the call we’d see who he got to first. Within about 5 minutes there he was in front of me, answering every time I called and coming closer. I waited until he was about 15 or 20 yards away and shot him. He was about 25 pounds, about a 6 inch beard. We finally had some success after a bad start to the season. It was exciting for both of us, even my dad who didn’t even kill it. I was glad it happened there, where my dad had so many good memories of his childhood and other hunting trips.
We cleaned the bird that night and a few days later I took it to Son Of Grok’s house for “Thanksgiving In May” and enjoyed it with SoG and Mrs. Sog. My dad and I went back up there about 10 days later to try to get our other 3 but had no luck. We saw lots of turkeys, but they were pretty spooked and weren’t answering calls (the Toms we saw already had several hens with them so they must’ve not been looking to add numbers to their harems?). We just couldn’t get any decent shots in. We also blew another tire on a sharp rock (again, rough roads) and had to change it up there near the end of the day. My father ended up buying 3 new tires this turkey season and we only got 1/4 of our bag limit. Not completely successful, but at least it was an adventure and we had lots of fun. I’m looking forward to the remaining seasons this year. Fall Turkey, Bear, and Grouse. Next year I’ll be ready to apply for most of the big game hunts before the deadlines (which I slacked on this year).
Please share your thoughts, stories, comments, and opinions on hunting!