LAST EDITED ON May-01-10 AT 03:27 PM (MST)
This last weekend my brother Grizz came down to Texas for a visit and he and I decided to do some spring hunting and take my 12 year old son Kayson along with us. Lynn the brother my friend Steve does some guiding and after several unsuccessful attempts to find a pig hunt for us, at the last minute was able to get us on a ranch for a spring turkey hunt near Copperas Cove, TX.
Our hunt was set for a half day on Sunday afternoon and a half day on Monday morning. Ater taking our sweet time to get everything ready we finally met our guide Lynn in Briggs, Texas only two hours late. But within just a few short minutes we were at the ranch and out hunting, with plenty of daylight left. The ranch, named the Lucky Penny Ranch is set in the middle of the beautiful Texas Hill country and as it is normally the most beautiful season it Texas, the spring time scenery did not disappoint us. The rolling hills and fields were covered with tall grass and wildflowers in bright reds, yellows, blues and indigoes.The mixture of piņon, juniper, scrub oak, live oak, pecan, and other decidious trees produced three different adjacent habitats and filled the land with every color of green you can imagine. The sky was clear and baby blue with temperatures in the mid 70's, a little warm in the direct sunlight, but bearable and nice in the shade. We started walking and calling for turkey and after several sets it was clear the birds were hanging tight to cover and remaining silent. This was my first turkey hunt and Kayson's too and though we weren't having any luck yet, we were thoroughly enjoying the day just being together with Grizz. We were unable to get a bird to come in to our set that night, but in the last area we got to - just a little too late - the turkeys were gobbling like crazy all around us and we knew where we needed to set up the next morning for sure.
After finally getting back home and to bed a little after 1AM (PM me with your e-mail for the details on why - you will probably want to hear that story!) we only had time for a short 3 hour nap as we wanted to be back at the ranch at first light and I set my alarm for 4AM. It seemed like only minutes but excited with the possibilities of the day, I quickly awoke and got ready and soon we were on our way. This time we arrived on time and found ourselves down the hill from where heard the birds the night before at the edge of a coastal oat field. The birds were going crazy - toms were gobbling all around us and we decided to set up in a small grove of live oaks at the edge of the oat field. The sun was just peaking its head over the horizon and the long shadows made for perfect cover and our camo patterns blended in perfectly. Grizz sat the decoy just out of the trees and the three of us sat down with our backs against an oak and waited for a few minutes for things to settle down before Grizz began calling. With turkeys gobbling all around us, we weren't sure from just what direction a tom would come in to our decoy.
It didn't take long to find out though as Grizz had only hit the call once or twice before I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye - a tom was closing in! When I fist spotted him, he was about 100 yards out and was cautiously making his way up a small rise and around a brush pile. We had the decoy set up to our right and the bird was coming from our left. At about 50 yards out he began to strut and fan his tail feathers, making a show for us and our decoy hen. Grizz kept calling softly, luring him in and whispering to me to wait for just the right moment. The wary tom took his time and at first seemed to be moving more to my left, which would have been troublesome for a good shot as there was only one good shooting lane between the trees in that direction and I would have to risk moving quickly to swing on him and maybe spook the bird away.
Though I felt calm, my heart was definitely pumping and as I was trying to breathe as quietly as possible through my nose, my glasses kept fogging up and I was worried I wouldn't be able to see clearly enough to get a clean shot. So I started breathing through my mouth softly, and eventually my glasses cleared up enough to see clearly gain. The turkey kept moving to our left but finally made a right turn and started heading for our decoy, exactly as Grizz had designed it. Well within range and in an open shooting lane the tom kept up his show, fanning his feathers and strutting majestically for his would-be plastic girlfriend. Grizz whispered to me to wait for the bird to stick his head up, but the proud tom wouldn't have it, and finally when it was apparent he wasn't going to, Grizz's patience wore thin and he said "Oh just take him!" and I didn't hesitate. BLAM!! Turkey down!
What a rush! Kayson and I jumped up quickly and went out to retrieve him in case the shot went awry, but it was quickly apparent that the shot was good and this bird wasn't going to get away. I was elated to have my first turkey and even more happy to have been able to share it with Grizz and my boy Kayson. My bird ended up being a young one, just older than a jake but with a full fan and about a 6 inch beard and I couldn't have been any more happy! I immediately knew I was addicted. We snapped a few quick photos and as it was still pretty early, made our way to another area and set up again for another tom for Grizz.
Once again, it didn't take long before we had a bird answering us back and we could hear him making his way up through a grove of pecan trees for nearly half an hour. Grizz's calling was spot on but this bird was a little older perhaps and a little more wary and though he came in to sight distance, would not cross a fence and stayed just out of range until he decided he had had enough. That was OK though, we figured you always have to have a "one that got away" story to be a true hunter and especially if you are from our family.
In all it was a fun couple of days filled with excitement and brotherhood, and though he wasn't there with us, we couldn't help but feel our late father's presence and knew he was happy for us. Wish you could have been there Dad - but just so you know - we had a great time!
View of the ranch we hunted - gotta love the Hill Country!
An example of the wildflowers there - though this was taken near our home (see the waterslide in the background?)
My boy Kayson and Me:
My little brother - the best turkey guide ever and me
Proverbs 21:19 (why I hunt!)