New York turkey dog Gretchen Meek. 1999 - October 6, 2012Gretchen is one of those rare dogs that was a true 'natural'. She showed her owner what she wanted to hunt. What a nice surprise it was turkeys. So sad she's gone, but Gretchen got to hunt more than most. What a dog.
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Ron lives life not as a journey to the grave, intent on arriving safely,My one wish for fall of 2008 was to get out west with Gretchen again and complete her 'Dog Slam'. Another hunt with Jon and Keena was planned for mid October in WI. We’d go from WI to KS, maybe include a hog hunt in AR then head north to WY Black Hills and catch that opener November 1st! After this it’d be back to WI and get in some grouse & woodcock hunting before heading back to OH and PA then home!
but sliding in sideways, all worn out, yelling: "WOO-HOO what a ride!"
Fall 2008 -- the 'Old Dogs Tour' -- NY - WI - KS - WY - WI -- hunting wild turkey with my dog.
During late summer Al Szymanski, a fellow AWTHDA member, contacted me and wanted to bring his young boykin Hunter out to hunt along with his friend Jack at 'Gobbler's Roost'. Ron Magnano from western NY contacted me also. He wanted to bring his two boytels, Junior and Dixie along with a friend Kurt Meyers and his boytel Cutter out for opening week too. Well, it took some thought on how I’d handle 4 extra hunters and a total of 5 dogs at ‘Gobbler's Roost’. But after a bunch of ground rules on dog handling was worked out -- the weekend was on!
A great 3 days it was! Gretchen did a wonderful field break on 7-9 gobblers. Three hunters and two dogs were left to work them! Ron and I took Junior, Dixie and Gretchen to my ‘Old Honey-Hole’. At the honey-hole Junior and Dixie hit fresh scent about 200 yards in and the break was on! After a 20 minute wait - Ron started calling on his Cox trumpet and a nice gobbler was called right in! Upon getting back to Gobbler's Roost we found that the others had as much good luck as we did! Two gobblers taken, one missed and 40 minutes of gobbling! The rest of the hunt went as good and a bearded hen was taken and one bearded hen missed! What a great start to 2008!!!
After working my butt off to get ‘On the Road, Again’ Gretchen and I were on our way to her ‘Dog Slam’. After our stop in OH to scout turkeys for a return engagement, it was on to WI! Jon and Keena awaited us, along with Ken and John, a father/son team and the sports writer Paul Smith, for what would be 3 days of intense turkey hunting! Now -- It's called hunting and not shooting for a reason! Gretchen and Keena did EVERYTHING they could do to break turkeys and we DID break turkeys! Only trouble - the turkeys had not read the same books on call back as we had! I think young John enjoyed his morning of turkey gobbling that was enjoyed with me beside him. Paul said, "We had the sports writer's curse put on us!" GREAT TIME -- Hope I can do it again! Off to Kansas we were! On the way out of Westby, a flock of turkeys was spotted and we stopped at the farm and asked if they'd like to join in on a ‘Fall turkey dog hunt'? SURE -- Farmer and son were treated to a classic break and call back and we now have Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving!
Upon arriving in Kansas my contact had a problem. Gretchen and I would be on our own to find turkeys! No problem! We picked up a Kansas guide to Walk in Hunting Areas, and a Kansas road map and were on our way to a Kansas Rio! BTW -- by this time a hog hunt in Arkansas was not in the picture! KANSAS Walk In Hunting Areas DO RULE! Gretchen and I left for central Kansas and Ellsworth County WIHA's! A Kansas Rio is what were after and I had a contact that had steered us towards Ellsworth and TURKEYS! Upon arrival it looked more like DEER country to me and there were a bunch of archers taking advantage of it! SOOOO! I took out the ‘Kansas Hunting Atlas’ that we had picked up at the Wally World where we bought our tags. They have WIHA's and Public lands VERY WELL MARKED and it was off to Mitchell and Jewell County and some GREAT HUNTING AREAS! Beloit, Kansas was our base of operations for a bunch of scouting trips! This is the markings on the corners of the areas and the Atlas list what game should be found on various areas! Most of the time there was a creek that ran through the area and some grazing cattle! Some had crop fields and they were full of game! One late afternoon we were watching a group of 30 gobblers chasing each other in the 30-50 MPH winds that made hunting that day impossible! Gusts to 65!!! BUT -- It laid down that night. Gretchen and I were there DARK AND EARLY! Now -- IT WAS DARK AT 5:30AM when we pulled up to the spot! I turned on my Weather radio and it announced that sunrise would be over an hour away! WELL- HECK -- Lay back and nap! Then as we were getting ready to get out of the truck I notice movement to the side of the truck! OUT OF A HARVESTED BEAN FIELD WALKS A "KANSAS MONSTER BUCK"!! OMG -- WHAT A BUCK!!! Got my blood pumping and we crossed paths again in the creek bottom! BUT______It was turkeys we were after! Gretchen and I went to the creek bottom and crossed another bean field and a field of planted wheat that was about 4 inches out of the ground! TURKEY TRACKS -- GALORE! We traced the creek and Gretchen sticks her nose in the air and BARKS! FHUPP! FHUPP! FHUPP! FHUPP! the sound of turkeys leaving trees greeted her barking from across the creek! Three large birds was what it sounded like! One came over to our side -- so we continued on down the creek! About 150 yards further- Gretchen starts to ground scent and takes off up over the bank --along the edge of the wheat field -- then back down into the creekside swail! I'm running along trying to keep up and -- SUDDENLY -- she flushes a huge gobbler right in front of me out of a deadfall that he had been hiding in! NOW -- I USUALLY DO NOT SHOOT ON THE BREAK! But this one was just like a Pheasant and I could not resist! Only trouble -- I CAN NOT show you any Pictures of this bird -- I had a camera malfunction and did not find out till after I dressed the bird and gave him away! THAT'S MY STORY -- And I'm sticking to it! Next -- I'll tell you about an EVEN MORE AWESOME BREAK that Gretchen had on about 150 rio's in Jewell County!
We headed north towards Nebraska and encountered a Wildlife Area at Lovewell, KS. This is a Free Day Pass hunting area and looked promising! Day pass made out, we went on a drive about scouting. Some good areas were found and we went back to sign out, figuring to be back in the morning and do some hunting! As I deposited the day Pass into the Slot, as it left my fingers, turkeys were heard about 80 yards away!! OMG! We would be back in the AM! Next day we were back and signed in for the day! Upon further scouting we found an even better looking place on the Wildlife area and put our plan to work! We scouted two flocks of turkeys working off the river flat towards a sidehill that they were going to feed on! Each flock had over 50 birds in them. They were off ground we could hunt them on! So I planned on doing some scouting of the river area and found great sign and some spots where they seemed to be roosting! We would be back and catch them coming back to the river flat area in the afternoon!
Getting back after some more drive around, one of the flocks was already working towards the river in the crop fields between the road and river. The other flock was spotted still on the side hill about a mile away! The river flats were about a mile deep and we waited until that flock worked off them, and towards the woods along the river. Gretchen and I then sprinted towards the area and got between the river and the turkeys where she could hopefully break them without them getting across! PLAN WORKED! She got on the birds and was working back towards the road! I got up on a little higher ground to watch and saw they were still a long ways from her!!! Then I saw the other birds had made their way to the river flat and both flocks were on a track to meet up with Gretchen in hot pursuit of one of them! SWEET!!! Those turkeys never knew what hit them! The air was just alive with turkeys. There had to be 150 turkeys in those two flocks! I finally gathered Gretchen and got set up to call. There was still 20-30 turkeys milling around in the field that just did not know what happened! A nice hen was called right up and we were done with Kansas! BTW -- I LOVE KANSAS!
Wyoming, Here we come! Now don't get me wrong, Wyoming is a beautiful State, but I have been there four times and it has always been just shades of brown and I wanted to get up into the Black Hills and out of the rest of it! Black Hills season opens November 1st, so Gretchen and I had a couple of days to scout. I happened to see that the area just east of Lusk was open now and upon searching the WY WIHA's it looked good! So Gretchen and I were there on October 30th and spotted a nice flock of Merriams! We were on them like Butter on Bread on the morning of October 31st. After flydown we entered the Black Hills spruce. Gretchen didn't take long to pick up scent and the break was on! It seemed to take no time at all and a HUGE hen came over the ridge! BANG -- We were done! ‘Turkey Dog Slam’ made! I LOVE THAT DOG!!!
We were now about 5 days ahead of schedule and made contact with our grouse destination in Kennan,WI. It is always a great drive through the Black Hills and we hit the weather better than could ever be expected in November! In Kennan we met up with our party and had a great two days of grouse hunting with two fine wirehaired pointers! We did get some grouse and woodcock. But missed many more! Even had turkeys roosting in the woods behind our cabin!
With our being ahead of schedule we were able to contact Jon and got to spend the night with him and Keena and see the ‘Cutest Little Barn’ in Wisconsin! Even got in some turkey hunting in a great area!! COME ON WISCONSIN -- Make dogs legal in the whole State! Jon got a nice bird, so Gretchen and I posed in front of his barn with our new truck! Here are the ‘Old Dogs’ in Wisconsin! At this time -- I was tired and I'm sure Gretchen was too! It was time to get home! A fast trip was made and we will have to catch OH and PA another time! Mission accomplished. I have to thank Jon for being a big part of making this come true! The AWTHDA has opened a lot of doors for Gretchen and me. She has a LOT of friends because of it! As for another fall trip? I don't think so! The fall of 2009 will be spent at 'Gobbler's Roost' -- after all, those birds have had it easy the last two years! Ron Meek
Fall 2007 - From NY to OH, WI, KS, WY, back to WI, then home.
Gretchen and Ron got several Wisconsin turkeys (including a nice gobbler) with Jon & Keena in Wisconsin - Oct. 2007.
First stop was for squirrel in OH. Then it was straight to WY and mule deer in the Gillette area. I had to find a place to board Gretchen for a week and found a wonderful l lady that took Gretchen in like she was her own! When we got done with a very successful mule deer hunt, the Lady didn’t want to give Gretchen back! After this the plan was to hunt turkeys in the Black Hills of WY but a mistake on my part led to a problem! The season dates for WY was Oct 1st, but Nov. 1 for the Black Hills. We contacted a game warden and he gave us the names of about 7 ranchers and upon contacting them -- Most were Booked deer hunting or saving turkeys for others!! It just meant Gretchen and I would have to plan another trip to WY. So, back to WI we went! On the way, the Black Hills of both WY and SD were loaded with turkeys, and Gretchen had fun breaking them!
After an over night breakdown in Albert Lea MN Gretchen and I arrived at Avalanche, WI to hunt with Jon and Keena. Talk about turkey country!!! Gretchen and Keena took to each other and we were off and running! Keena and Jon got a good break on a gobbler flock and we were able to call in a nice longbeard with Jon's wingbone, my slate and mouth calling. Only trouble with WI was the ticks! OMG! I picked about 60 of them off Gretchen and a number off me! Good thing Jon had warned me about them! Another cool thing about the hunt in WI was the elk herd on Dennis and Ann's Farm. It was great hearing them bugling all the time!
Now comes the crazy part of our hunt. Back across the west we go to El Dorado KS. We were greeted with harvested bean fields and turkeys, this was going to be fun! Turns out it was a little harder than that. But after some searching we found a nice flock in a creek bed with oak trees and grazing cattle. After a great blind break by Gretchen, a fast call back of a nice hen was made! Then it was goodbye to KS and OH here we come! Upon arriving in OH - we stayed a night in the Bucyrus area. OMG the wind can blow out there! Then it was off to Linesville, PA and a jump back across the border to hunt OH! Gretchen made a great sight break and after two set-ups we called in a nice hen for our buddy there! The next day it was a little harder finding birds, the wind had started back up and we had to put some miles in. Finally, we worked the edge of a corn piece with a CRP field next to it. Upon reaching about 100 yards from the end, and woods - Gretchen took off and entered the thick woods edge at a full run. An explosion of turkeys, there were about 30 of them! Gobblers and everything else! They broke real good and some went onto posted land! Well heck, I just called them back. After an hour of constant turkey sounds with the turkeys answering in three distinct groups, it looked like I was going to close the deal! We had the young birds kee-keeing, older birds yelping and clucking and then a whole bunch of gobblers gobbling their fool heads off! Then one nice gobbler broke over the ridge in range at 30 Yards and I missed! Dang turkey fever!! Well - That's why they call it turkey hunting and not turkey killing. Gretchen had done her job and I missed!
Wind was really howling, now and it was time to leave and hit the road to home! Upon arriving at home I had put on over 9000 miles and had a great time. Now it was time to hunt NY. I missed the whole month of October and had two weeks left to get it on. We went to our cabin at "Gobbler's Roost" and I sighted a nice flock in a field above the cabin. I took Gretchen through the field and upon spotting me, the turkeys entered the brush lot leading to the woods. Gretchen was left to work the edge and picked up the scent and a good break was made. We sat up in the middle of the woods and waited for some turkey talk. It didn't take long and they started in. After a while one started to gobble in front of us, with others coarse clucking to our west. I tried every thing I could think of and they would not budge. Then I thought - give the fighting purrs you had carried all season a try! Worked like a charm, we were overrun by three young gobblers and I had a New York bird!
Then I went home and told my wife I was taking her to PA for her birthday! Of course, we’d take Gretchen too! After all, PA season was open. I hunted with a friend there and we had a good sight break and a nice gobbler snuck in behind my friend and he did not get a shot! He decided not to take a hen and we had to leave! Great break and calling session all the same. 2007 was done. Great time and a worn out dog and me had all Winter, Spring and Summer to plan 2008's hunt!
I do own a beautiful piece of land called, "Gobbler's Roost". This has been a place to share with family and friends.
Taking up turkey hunting in '89, the Roost was a great place to hunt turkeys! Fall hunting was almost as much looked forward to as spring hunting! Little did I know that a mistreated (abused) puppy would come into my life and change my fall turkey hunting-FOREVER! Gretch came to me as an abused puppy! I was a little slow to take to her!!!!!!!! But she was insistent and just wanted a friend!!!!! I had her for about a year, and one day found that she was interested in turkeys! I had a bunch of decoys out on the lawn at the Roost. When I drove in she took great notice in them and RUSHED them when I opened the door! I thought, "I wonder what she would do with the real thing?". The next day I found a flock and let her out on them!!!!!!!!! The rest is to be told, later! She took to this new job like she had been doing it forever!!!!! Gretchen is a natural turkey dog.
Hunting turkeys in the fall with a dog has become the way to do it at the Roost since! Ron Meek - Chenango County, NY
One time a turkey surprised them and Ron wished Gretchen's leash wasn't around his leg when she drags him down the ridge!
Fall Season was open and my Brother brought his son, Kyle out for his first Fall Hunt! Gretchen and I had been working on getting back in shape after a Long Lazy Summer! NOT!!!! We had been busy as ever ALL SUMMER with projects at the Roost and were ready for our 40+ days of Fall Season! We chose a small woodlot that usually had Turkeys in it and started through the Brushlot toward it! Instantly!!!!!!! Gretchen hit Scent! Then the Explosion of Turkey Wings! She had a Classic Break-up of 5-6 birds in 5-6 directions! Now, I usually set-up my shooter about 20 to 30 yards in front of me and call with Gretchen in my lap. This time I set-up with my Young Nephew beside me and Gretch on my other side! This was his first try at Turkeys and I figured he needed the coaching! A few Yelps and KEE-KEE,s and I had a Bird Working! The underbrush is really thick on October First! The Bird was LOUD!!!! Gretchen was SHAKING! I was SHAKING! Kyle was FOCUSED!
Bird was getting close! 25 yards and we couldn't see it! They do come in through the thickest part at times! Finally Gretch could stand it NO LONGER!!!! I had to release Her! NO PROBLEM!!!! Just reset and start all over! This time I set-up Kyle at 30 Yards and called a Bird Right to him!
Here's a little story from Gretchen's point of view from the first day last fall!
Reeltime, from the NWTF Board came to fall hunt with Gretch and Me! Actually we broke-up 4 flocks and saw 2 others.
Each flock was between 12-20 birds with a mix in most! That was as many turkeys as I've seen all year! Lee told a story of us breaking up a small flock and calling them back to get a bird! Here's something I added to Lee's story: Reeltime, the pleasure of the hunt was enjoyed by me as well. I'll give it to you from my dog, Gretchen's point of veiw:
Well Dad! It's about time you got out my orange vest! I didn't think I was ever going to see that again! What, we're setting down ALREADY? OK! Hey is that a turkey I heard fly down over by Lee? Come on Dad let's go get it!!! What's that I hear behind me? A "Tree Rat"!!! Bark-Bark-Bark!!! Sorry Dad!!! Just couldn't help myself!!! WE LET GRETCH BREAK UP A FLOCK RIGHT FROM THE MIDDLE OF A ROAD!!!!! Let me out of this truck and I'll show those birds where the bear went through the buckwheat!!! How was that Dad? What, your not going to call to those? JUST AROUND THE CORNER THERE WAS ANOTHER FLOCK!!! There's another Flock!!! Whew they all just went in one direction! Oh well! That's the best I could do!
They didn't read the same book as I did on break-up!!! WE SPOTTED A SMALL FLOCK AND (MUCH TO GRETCHEN'S DISMAY) LEFT HER AT THE TRUCK!!! Dad, you're forgeting someone! What do you mean set there and behave, you'll be right back! I've heard that one before!!! Alright, I'm glad you're back to the truck! Just think how good you would have done if you had of let me help!!! WE GOT A BIRD AND SHOWED GRETCH!!!!!!! OK I'll smell that silly old bird! If it makes you feel better!!! NEXT FIELD HAD TURKEYS BETWEEN 2 CORN FIELDS!!! Are you kidding! Do you know how hard it is to break-up a flock in the middle of a corn field??? Wait a minute! We went through this "Stay in the Truck Crap!" before!!!! It isn't going to work this time! Bark-bark-bark-bark-bark... You'll learn Dad! Can't teach old masters new tricks! My Paw!!!!
Ron Meek New York director of the American Wild Turkey Hunting Dog Association.
Learn more about Ron Meek and his New York Turkey Dogs here.
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