As my daughter Beth and granddaughter Madison followed me down a long,
mesquite-lined sendero in the dark, I was figuring out where to set up to call in a Rio
Grande gobbler at daylight. We hadn’t walked very far before an owl hooted and the
trees resonated with loud gobbles not 200 yards from us. Rapidly we moved in towards
the birds, but as I peered around a leafed-out mesquite, the silhouette of birds against the
predawn sky took me by surprise. One more step, and they would have erupted from the
trees. Backing off a few yards, we nestled into a clump of thorn scrub, and I removed
several calls from my jacket and laid them on the sandy soil fully confident that we
would have several gobblers fanned out before us at daylight.
It was Easter weekend, and my entire family traveled 100 miles south of our
home in Uvalde to enjoy our traditional turkey hunt on the Nueces Strip. Arriving on
Thursday evening, we simply unloaded our gear and relaxed before grilling hot dogs on
the amber red coals of mesquite.
The following morning at 5:30 a.m. my camo-clad six-year-old granddaughter
Madison entered my dark bedroom to ask if I was already dressed. It was her first hunt
with Pappy, and she was pumped up.
Not long after grabbing a cup of coffee, I was negotiating my pickup across the
ranch to where I have often enjoyed success. Once situated a stone’s throw from several
roosting toms, I let things settle down before I generated several low volume yelps from
my Lynch foolproof box call and the quiescent morning was interrupted by several
gobbles of several long beards. Remaining quiet, I waited until visibility increased when
I generated a series of soft yelps and the gobblers responded immediately, but so did a
hen. Calling again, the hen responded by flying down out of the trees to within 20 steps
For the next few minutes, she responded to each of my calls as she remained
focused in our direction. Once I emitted a low volume cackle, the sound of wings hitting
branches could be heard as the toms lit between us and the hen.
As Beth prepared Madison for a shot with her .410, I continued calling as the
gobblers responded in thunderous gobbles, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before
they detected something was wrong. So I whispered to Beth to take the longest bearded
bird, and as the morning silence was shattered by the rapport of her shotgun, not one bird,
but two gobblers dropped to the sandy road.
Walking back to the truck, we heard another gobbler, so we set up once again, but
Madison was getting fidgety. Two series of calls later, several jakes were staring at us at
ten steps, while several drumming long beards were working their way towards us, but it
was all I could do to keep Madison still, and our morning hunt was over.
My daughter Nan joined me in the afternoon, and she had a nice tom within
twenty minutes of calling. We were on a roll. As Nan hiked back to get the truck, I
called in two nice toms to within only a few feet and actually started to raise my shotgun
when they caught a movement and dissipated.
Saturday morning I was on my own and called in quite a few young birds, but the
long beards were reticent.
Beth accompanied me in the afternoon, and like the morning all I could call in
was young birds until we worked our way to within 100 yards of several garrulous toms.
Once set up, I yelped a couple of times and followed up with a high-pitched cackle, and
within a minute four blood-red-colored heads appeared in the colorful prickly poppies
lining the sendero heading right for us. As the birds approached to within 20 or so steps,
they paused and I fired. Once again, two toms were flopping on the ground as we
enjoyed our first double-double turkey Easter weekend hunt.