About the Post

Author Information

Hunting is my passion, as I can imagine it is the passion for most everyone here. I was born with this drive to pursue wild game, to harvest an animal and bring to my table the meat provided. Ever since I was old enough to remember I have been hunting. Growing up in Dallas, Texas with a father who has a passion for the outdoors I can remember long sits in the deer blind, the pre-dawn hours nestled into the tall milo fields waiting on the first signs of doves and of course the great fishing that the lakes around our house provided.

Texas Rio Double

I was hopeful as I drove the 500 miles one way to Graford, TX. My mind was full of gobbling turkeys, of notching my Texas Rio Grande tags and of bagging my limit of 4 birds. I had three and a half days to get it done and as I drove from Missouri through Oklahoma and into Texas I grew excited with the anticipation of that first evening hunt. I arrived at 4:30pm, was shown around the property on which I had been granted permission to hunt (about 400 acres just outside of Graford, TX) and was in the blind for my evening sit by 5:30pm that evening. As I exited my vehicle and was placing shells into my 12 gauge shotgun I thought I had heard the faint gobble of a Rio Grande in the distance. Second guessing myself I made my way to the blind for my evening sit, having been told that gunning and running was not the best option on this piece of property. It was 84 degrees that day, much hotter than back home in Missouri and as I sat sweating, giving a few hen yelps and not hearing anything I began to worry.

An hour later, sitting in my blind I heard that distinct sound of a mature tom turkey spitting and drumming. There he was, my first glimpse at a Rio Grande turkey in full strut at 40 yards. I reached for my shotgun, noticing a hen in front of him. As I raised my gun to get a shot, he folds his fan, comes out of strut and dashes across the cattle road that I am sitting on, darting behind a thicket of cedars. There he continues to gobble and strut, the hen walking directly up to my HS Strut Penny Snood decoy. She was ten steps when the gobbler decides to move behind the cedar thicket, dash across a small road and disappear to where I had parked my car. And there he remained, 100 yards away for the next two hours. I had been told that Rio’s can be very vocal birds and I was not disappointed, but that first day should have been an indication of how my first trip to Texas was going to play out.

The next morning I was set up on the same bird along a pipe line, knowing that he had roosted on private property in which I did not have permission to hunt. However, I knew this bird would come to this property given time. At first light he allowed the world to know his location, and for an hour and a half I played the hard to get hen. I watched him, finally, step out onto the pipeline 200 yards away. He was beautiful. Full strut, the morning sun shining directly onto him, and him pausing every now and then to gobble and make sure that my decoy was watching. Then he did what I have only ever seen on television, he ran the full 200 yards to close the distance. His barrel chest swayed back and fourth and I waited for him to go down into a small valley to re-position. I was 30 yards on the other side of the fence and all he had to do was cross it. But when he hit the fence line he stopped, gobbled, went into strut and remained there. Many people would have taken the shot, but as an ethical hunter, I did not feel it was right to harvest a bird on property that I did not have permission to hunt. He disappeared and for two days I hunted in 25 mph winds with no luck. I went back to Missouri empty handed, thinking that I had blown my chance at a Rio for the year.

A week later and I receive an invitation to hunt a 200 acre ranch near Granbury, TX along the Brazos River. Property that had never once been hunted. It was a beautiful ranch with rolling hills that led down to the rivers banks, mature oak stands in which the turkeys roosted in and plenty of food for the birds to feed upon. I arrived and was shown around, able to hunt that first day by 6:30pm. I walked along the fence line, stopping to call every 100 yards and was making my way back to my car when five birds sounded off directly behind me. A quick look over my shoulder and I spotted them running along the fence line 100 yards behind me. I had just enough time to sit down and get my gun into position, quickly realizing that sitting at the top of a hill I was only able to see directly in front of me and at the very bottom of the hill. I had no way of knowing where the birds were or how far away they were from me. With anticipation I waited, motionless, with my heart pounding in my chest. A red, white and blue head appear in my vision and I have a moment to think of where I want my gun to aim before I squeeze the trigger. A loud sound of my shell leaving my gun and then nothing. All five birds remain standing. They have me pinpointed and as I quickly get another shell into the chamber they have made their way onto the neighboring property and into the scrub oak thicket.

One can let themselves get down when turkey hunting, especially when you can hear the birds they are not willing to cooperate. That is what seemed to happen on that second trip. Early mornings of setting up on the birds only to have them fly down across the river to strut in manicured lawns of a housing development. I walked that property for two more days, finally finding a location where they had been crossing and using in the afternoons. After confirmation from the landowner on where he had been seeing birds, I threw up a blind and climbed in at 4:30pm. Honestly I was not expecting to see or hear anything until right at dark when the birds were going to roost but I decided to call in between the 20 mph wind gusts, thankful for being tucked away in the oak thicket.

I feel that sometimes your mind plays tricks on you when you are about ready to throw in the towel, and that day was no exception. I called every fifteen minutes, giving out a light series of yelps. With the wind blowing it was hard to know if anything was gobbling but I could have sworn that I had heard something. After an hour of calling and not hearing anything else I was ready to convenience myself that I was going to sit another evening without anything to show for it. I was texting a friend about having not seen anything when I glanced up to see three bright red heads eyeing my decoy at twenty yards away. It took my brain a moment to realize what I was looking at, seeing thick beards on two birds and a shorter one on the third. Reaching for my gun I took steady aim on the first bird, gently squeezing the trigger and watching him fall over without moving. His two buddies flew straight up into the air before landing in the same place, confused on what had happened and giving me just enough time to get another shell into the chamber. I took aim on the second bird in front of me, the jake, and my gun sounded off again. The third bird was gone before the jake hit the ground. It took a total of an hour to harvest two beautiful Texas Rio Grande turkeys! After spending over $500 in gas, $100 in tolls, and $126 for the permit, I had been able to harvest two birds in one day. I was beyond excited, shocked and thankful for what had just happened.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.