By Bill Cooper
Plans for my Yucatan 2023 ocellated turkey camp are underway. Dates are set and the client list is complete with a couple of alternates, should someone be unable to make the trip at the last minute.
Dates for the 2023 camp were secured during the weeklong March 2022 camp run by TanKab Outfitters out of Merida, Mexico. The group that requested to go down with me had wanted to go in 2022 but contacted me too late to make the list of 2022 hunters. Most turkey hunting outfitters in the Yucatan stay booked one to two years ahead. Long-range planning is necessary for individuals wishing to take part in the most unique turkey hunting experience in the world.
The individuals making up the client list for the 2023 camp are the most unique group of individuals I’ve organized in a decade of doing so. The list is a who’s who of outdoors in the outdoor world, including a Missouri state representative and wife, a past commissioner of the Missouri Department of Conservation, conservation department directors from two states and spouses, a state tourism representative, a writer for both the National Wild Turkey Federation and Outdoor Life, a firearms company representative, a fly fishing podcaster, and one of the most famous bass fishing celebrities in the world of competitive bass fishing. They are a most interesting mixture of personalities, and outdoor experience levels. However, a common denominator is their shared love of the outdoors and dedication to fish and wildlife conservation across the nation.
Planning an out of country hunting trip involves a lot of details. Discussions with interested individuals often begin years prior to the trip. I have worked in the Yucatan for 14 seasons coordinating trips for state government tourism departments as well as private hunting and fishing outfitters.
My main goal of working in the tourism industry in Mexico has been to increase numbers of U.S. clients coming into the country. Mexico, in particular the Yucatan, draws most of their customers from Europe, South America, and Canada.
Through hosting media trips for outdoor writers, I have seen a great deal of success in attracting more Americans to the hunting, fishing, and tourism opportunities that the Yucatan has to offer.
I have dealt with TanKab Outfitters for over a decade. The owners lease 160,000 acres of jungles, interspersed with crop lands, where their clients can enjoy spectacular hunting for ocellated turkey, brocket deer, crested guan, great curassows, and other jungle animals.
Additionally, TanKab Outfitters offers tarpon fishing trips based out of the fishing village of San Felipe on the Gulf Coast. In 2023 they will be offering a cast and blast opportunity for tarpon fishing in the morning and hunting Mexican quail in the afternoon. I personally, look forward to experiencing this new opportunity to enjoy the outdoor world in the Yucatan.
With the client list complete for the 2023 ocellated turkey hunting camp, I’ll soon begin gathering their personal and contact information, including passport numbers and photos, to send to the outfitter.
The outfitter, in turn, will e-mail everyone a planned itinerary, complete with arrival and departure dates and activity schedules for the week. Importantly, they will also provide a list of needed clothing and equipment for their week-long hunting adventure in the jungle.
In the upcoming months participating clients will make sure their passports are up to date. Often participants also make sure tetanus shots are up to date and that any medications they need to bring along are refilled and packed for the trip.
Most people spend the upcoming months making lists of items to take along on the journey into the jungle. Good boots and new camouflage clothing are most often at the top of the list. Most Midwesterners own heavy duty hunting clothing. It can be very hot in the Yucatan jungle; light weight clothing is a must in the jungles to be comfortable.
Numerous changes of lightweight clothing are recommended. After the morning hunt, clients return to a comfortable wall tent, complete with air-conditioning. Next, they enjoy a solar-heated shower, a wonderful lunch under the dining fly, and then retire to the comforts of their respective tents for a long siesta.
After siesta time, clients and guides head out for the afternoon hunt. Guides travel in four wheel drive pick-up trucks , and in most cases can deliver clients directly to their brush blinds for the afternoon sit. Each blind is equipped with comfortable camp chairs. Guides also carry small coolers with soft drinks and water.
TanKab Outfitters offers ocellated turkey hunting both at the edges where the jungle meets milo fields and deep in the jungle as well. Each scenario has its own appeal. Field hunting generally takes place earlier in the season before the flocks begin to break up.
About a month prior to our group leaving for the trip, I double check all the details and check with all participants to make sure they have all needed essentials.
Throughout the year I answer dozens of questions from the participants about everything from flights, laws of Mexico, camp amenities, guide capabilities, likelihood of hunting success, meals, insects, personal item needs, and many more concerns.
Every discussion with participants serves to build anticipation and excitement, until the moment we board our flights and head to the jungles of the Yucatan.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Cooper is an award winning outdoor writer and inductee of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Outdoor Communicator. He is the host of the Living the Dream Outdoors Podcast, which can be found on most social media platforms. He lives in rural St. James and can be followed at www.facebook.com/ outsidealways.