On one of our fathers and sons hike we were camped in a beautiful place that we called Red Rock on the Tinaja wash. We had been served a good supper and the program was over. We were sitting around the camp fire visiting and talking a little before retiring to our beds. Lynn Taylor came over to our camp and asked me if in the morning would be a good time to go turkey hunting. I told him that I had come prepared and that I would be glad to take him out in the morning. I cautioned him that we would have to leave by four A.M. and that we would have to climb the ridge in the dark of the early morning. He answered that he had never been turkey hunting and really wanted to go.

I set my mental alarm and awoke about a quarter to four the next morning. I dressed in the dark and put on my warm jacket and prepared my twelve gage shotgun. I walked over to Lynn's camp where he was ready and waiting. We quietly left the camp and climbed north along the steep ridge in the dark of the early dawn. I enjoyed the climb in the cool of the early morning and could see the sky beginning to lighten in the east. We topped out among the tall pines facing the head of the canyon to the west. I got out my wing bone turkey caller and gave a few plaintive chirps. Immediately we heard a resounding gobble coming from the trees on the other side of the head of the canyon. The grey of dawn was beginning to creep around us and after a few calls and answering gobbles we saw the shadow of the turkey fly down from the trees into a sparse undergrowth. The next gobble came from the head of the canyon, and I knew he was coming toward us. I carefully put a shell in the barrel of the shotgun and handed it to Lynn whispering to him that it was ready to shoot and to pull the trigger when he was ready.

After what seemed a long wait I could hear a faint chuck swish of the strutting turkey as he inflated himself running forward a few steps and dragging his wings. I could feel my legs beginning to ache because we were crouched down behind a huge fallen pine tree. I remember estimating that the tree trunk was at least three and a half feet in diameter. We were completely hid from the approaching turkey. Suddenly from what seemed just the other side of the log, came a booming gobble. I nudged Lynn indicating for him to stand and shoot. He suddenly stood up and pointed the big shotgun at the head of the surprised turkey. For a frozen instant I could see that big beautiful bird not ten feet away with his tail spread out in a big fan and his wings dragging the ground. I could see his bluish white head and his long beard nearly dragging the ground. In that instant that big gobbler exploded straight into the air flapping his mighty wings he turned and soared down into the depths of the still dark canyon. Lynn seemed a frozen statue. He turned around suddenly lowering the big gun asked in a surprised voice, "What happened?" I answered simply, "Lynn you didn't even shoot." He looked at me blankly and didn't say a word. I took the shotgun and carefully unloaded the barrel.

We walked in the growing light of the day down the ridge into the canyon to our camp. We had heard no other gobbles along the high ridge. I knew that we had been very lucky to find this lone gobbler so eager to come to my call. Back in our camp most everyone was up and starting to prepare breakfast. I said to Lynn as we parted. "It will have to be some other time."

The next year a couple of months before turkey season Lynn came over to our home. After chatting a while he said that he and his boys would really like to go on a big turkey hunt with us this year. I told him that I would be glad for him to go with us. We set the date and I told him that I would prepare and take everything we needed and all that he would need for he and his boys would be their sleeping bags and their guns to hunt with.

About a week before we were planning to leave Lynn came over and told me that he could not leave his pressing work to go with us on the hunt. I commented that I was disappointed that he could not go and since it was all planned we would go without him and his boys. Every year after that we would go through the same planning only to find that Lynn had to much work and could not leave to take his boys hunting. We were all caught by surprise by Lynns sudden death. He never did take time to take his boys and go with us into the Sierra Madre hunting turkey. I often thought of his desire to take his boys and enjoy a trip into the mountains but never could take time to do it. He was caught by surprise by that big beautiful bird high on the ridge of the Tinaja Wash and was caught again by surprise by his untimley death.

After Sam graduated from Choirpractic School he started to practice here in Nuevo Casas Grandes. He set his office up in the center of town and was building up a good practice. Some of the medical doctors became jealous and began to cause trouble for him, saying he did not have a license to practice medicine. Rather than to stir up trouble Sam decided to move to the United States where he could practice freely. John Brimhall invited Sam to come to his Choirpractic Clinic and work with him. John is the son of Naomas cousin LaRee Peterson. LARee is the daughter of her Uncle Erin Peterson. The brother of Naoma's Mother.

Sam brought John and his family down home to Dublan to go with our family on our yearly turkey hunt. That year we dropped into the head of Trout Creek between the falls and camped there in that beautiful place. Our turkey hunt was very successful and both families enjoyed the camping trip. After that John would bring his two boys down and I would take them turkey hunting. One year we went up through Chuhuichupa and down into the beautiful Torro canyon. We camped where the two canyons come together to form the Torro creek. The first morning we hunted up the west canyon along the beautiful little trout stream. Just as it was coming light I stopped to call into the early morning air. I always used my wing bone turkey caller with very good results. Each time I called we would all listen intently but we did not get any answering gobbles. Once I thought I heard a faint sound of the chuck swish of a strutting turkey. I decided to find a place of concealment. We all sat down behind an old rotting pine tree trunk. Johns two boys sat down and leaned back against the fallen log. I called again but got no answering gobble. I could hear faint turkey noises and the unmistakable sound of a strutting turkey. I looked at John and he was sitting alert with his shotgun ready leaning on the log. Suddenly a big turkey gobbler strutted into view about twenty steps from where we were hiding. I didn't dare move to alert the boys in any way. There was a loud boom and that big gobbler wilted to the ground. Flopping wildley. John and I got up and walked to the turkey. John's older son caught entirely by surprise began to cry and whine in a loud voice. "I wanted to shoot him!" This wailing continued all the time while John cleaned the big turkey gobbler. John explained quietly to his son that the turkey was suddenly strutting right in front of us and all he could do was to shoot him without waiting for his son to get ready to shoot. I had seen some turkey hens running up the canyon after the shot had frightened them. I knew it would be useless to follow after them, so we turned back to camp.

I prepared a leisurely breakfast of hotcakes and scrambled eggs. We sat around camp for awhile enjoying the beauty around us. The sun was darkened by the drifting clouds and soon it began to sprinkle. We moved under our kitchen fly to get out of the light rain. The rain continued on into the night. I settled down without worrying about getting up in the morning. I was awake when the early light filtered into my tent.

Suddenly a booming gobble brought me out of bed searching around frantically for my clothes. I dressed hurriedly and crawled out of my tent into the misty rainy morning. I could hear John and his boys talking excitedly in their tent. When they came out they each had their gun in their hands and were ready to start toward the sound of that booming gobble. We crossed the creek and up a steep bank onto the long sloping ridge that led up to the top of the high ridge. We stopped occasionally to call into the misty rain. The rain got less as it became lighter. About half way up the ridge we stopped by a huge jutting rock and called again into the still morning air. Two gobbles one right after the other answered us from across the low canyon. Again the gobbles came. They sounded to me like they were challenging each other. After a long silence I saw a strange sight. I could see a big gobbler fleeing away from another big gobbler who came strutting along behind. For few moments we could see this strange procession coming toward us. They were soon lost from sight among the trees and bushes in the bottom of the canyon.

John and his younger son sat with their backs in some wet bushes at the top where the trail came up out of the canyon. The older boy and I were standing down a little ways at the edge of a huge rock near where the trail passed by. I indicated for the boy to prepare to shoot. All was silent for what seemed like a very long time.

After what seemed a long weight I could see that John was ready and tense waiting. Suddenly there was a sound of running feet and the turkey came running up the trail right in front of the older boy. He was so surprised that he shouted out, "There he is!" At this loud shout the turkey flew straight in the air and John shot him and fired a fleeting shot at the other turkey as he sailed away down the canyon. John ran down and recovered the flopping turkey before it went very far down the hill. Again the older boy was caught by surprise and did not even shoot. John explained to his son that he had not shot until the turkey was in the air for fear of hitting his son who was about three feet from the turkey when he called out his surprise.

The next year when John and his boys came down I took them to our ranch in Corrales. We camped under the apple trees near the creek where a big pine tree sheds its needles to form a nice bed of pine needles for my tent. The leaves of the apple blossoms were falling like snow drifting down to the ground. We got into camp late in the evening. We set up camp and ate supper before drifting off to our beds. The next morning we all got into the van found our way across to the gate out of the property. We climbed up the steep ridge following the faint road to the top of the continental divide. We went in the gate into the Whetten ranch and parked the van just as daylight began to show in the trees. We walked about 300 yards to the rim of the Diablo canyon.

The turkeys began to gobble in every direction. Some near but most far away. It was a still clear morning and the sound came drifting to us on the clear cold air. John had a new turkey caller, so I suggested that he and his older boy go along the rim to where he could call up the turkey. I took the younger boy with me and we walked south on a dim trail across the mesa. As we came near the edge of the next canyon we found where a large old juniper tree had fallen across the trail. The trail long since had been worn around the tree and continued on down into the canyon. We made ourselves comfortable among the long dead branches of the old juniper tree. We were facing directly down the trail where it came up straight out of the canyon. As we settled down to wait in the growing light of the dawn, we heard the boom of a shotgun and knew that John or his boy had shot a turkey behind us on the rim.

I told the boy that was with me to prepare his gun and rest it on a limb pointing down the trail in front of us. I chirped occasionally and listened for an answering gobble. We heard no answer for what seemed a very long time. The boy was dozing beside me when I saw a line of turkeys walking along the trail toward us. I nudged the boy and whispered for him to get ready to shoot. He carefully pulled back the hammer and waited sighting along the trail. I whispered for him to hold it awhile. When the turkeys came to within about 30 steps of us, I whispered for him to shoot. Then came the loud boom of the shotgun and turkeys flew in every direction. The two lead ones went down and lay flopping on the ground. The boy dropped his gun and excitedly ran to try to pin down the two flopping turkeys. In his excitement he cried out "I got two of them."

After cleaning the turkeys we walked back to the van. I carried the shotgun and one of the turkeys while the boy proudly carried the other turkey over his shoulder.

When Tracy and Cathy were living here in Dublan, he was anxious to go turkey hunting. He was always a good hunter but had left home to finish high school in North Dakota, while living with Mary and Doug. because of his absence from home, he was not able to do much hunting. He invited Marvin Longhurst to go with us on our turkey hunt.

We left Dublan after school on Friday and camped on the ranch in Corrales. We got into camp just at dark and prepared supper by the light of the gas lantern. We talked to Lalo and had him bring us the riding animals by three thirty the next morning. Promptly at three thirty in the morning, Lalo came with the animals all saddled and ready to go. We all drank a cup of hot herb tea and mounted up and were on our way.

We went out through the west gate and up the west canyon until we came to the trail that climbed slanting up to the top of the ridge. There was no moon but the stars gave us enough light for the animals to find the trail. I was riding along on a long limbed pinto mule which loved to travel and kept well in the lead. She fidgeted a little whenever I stopped to wait for Tracy and Marvin to catch up. This beautiful mule had been given to me by a friend who had a ranch above Three Rivers on the San Juan. He was Rafael Garcia, the son of Rafael Garcia who had lived on the San Juan ranch for many years.

We rode along the top of the Continental Divide just as the light was beginning to show in the sky in the east. We stopped often to use my winged bone turkey caller and listen for a response. We entered the gate of the Maurice Whetten Ranch and rode southwest along the beautiful little valley surrounded by pines. Soon we came to the edge of a large meadow with a little stream trickling through it. Here I chirped again and received an answering gobble from the trees across the meadow. We rode back into the trees and tied our animals. We walked back and found concealment at the edge of the meadow . I was worried because there was a big black bull grazing near the little stream in the bottom of the meadow. I could see the turkey coming fast stopping only to strut occasionally. He passed the bull unconcerned by his presence. He crossed the little stream with a hop and continued strutting towards us. Suddenly there was a loud boom and the turkey wilted to the ground. I was surprised by the shot because the turkey was about 50 steps away. Tracy commented, "I was worried because the turkey looked to me like he was getting nervous and was going to leave so I shot him." I told him that I thought he was taking a big chance for that was a long shot for a shotgun. Tracy tied the turkey on the back of his saddle and we rode back to the edge of the Diablo canyon rim. We chirped there for awhile but got no answering gobble. We decided to go on back to camp because we had to return home that afternoon. We went back and rode over a little wooded Ridge. There we stopped so that I could send a final call into the still morning air. A booming gobble answered from back the way we had come. It sounded close so we dismounted and crept aways away from our animals and spread out a little along the ridge. The turkey kept gobbling and coming straight toward us. Soon I could hear him strutting very near. From where I sat I could not see him, but I could hear the chuck swish of his strut. After what seemed a long silence I finally heard the loud boom of the shotgun. I got up and joined Marvin and Tracy who were standing looking at a big gobbler lying at their feet. I said, Pointedly to Marvin, "The one who shot him, will have to clean him and carry him." I was surprized and a little annoyed when Tracy began to clean the turkey.

I had distinctly told them that it was Marvin's turn to shoot. Tracy carried the turkey back and tied it behind hid saddle with the other one. We rode on down to our camp. While we were packing up to go home Tracy apologized to Marvin, Saying, "I could see the turkey had stopped strutting and was starting to leave, so I had to shoot so he wouldn't get away" Marvin answered, "Every time I would aim to shoot a little limb of leaves would get in the way." I was very surprised to find out that Marvin had not shot the turkey. I was caught by surprise when Tracy cleaned the turkey and carried it back to camp, because I thought all along that Marvin had shot the turkey.

As I remember these moments when we were caught by surprise I think of the implications of the different ways we can take a moment of great surprise. We can learn to prepare and accept any situation without freezing up or over reacting to the situation. We hope you are all well and enjoying the beautiful spring weather and the blessings of our Heavenly Father. This time of year always reminds me of the many enjoyable turkey hunts that we have had in the beautiful Sierra Madre Mountains.