A Tough Turkey Tale

If you’re looking for a pushover gobbler, push your cart down the nearest grocery store and toss a Butterball into your cart.

That’s as easy as it gets. Now and then you might run into an inexperienced gobbler that runs to your calls like a dog downwind of a barbecue. When the moon, stars and planets align just right, you might even stumble upon a gobbler that’s never encountered hunting pressure. But let’s be honest. That only happens on hunting television shows.

Texas Two-Step Turkeys
Several years back I was invited to Texas to test CVA’s new Optima on hogs, javelina and Rio Grande Turkeys in April. Turkeys back home were still snowbound. How could I refuse? The shock of 100-degree weather upon arriving in South Texas greeted me and I couldn’t imagine turkeys strutting freely in such oppressive heat. I was right.

Teamed with longtime guide Gabe Price, we attempted to scatter pellets in the direction of a gobbling tom, but the morning action was briefer than the premiere of “Brokeback Mountain” in a Wyoming theatre. Temperatures rose from sunrise and barely backed off at sunset. The gobblers gobbled off the roast and hastily shut up from the heat and my intense calling.

Price would drop me off before sunrise and pick me shortly thereafter to track the birds, which had taken a vow of silence soon after leaving the roost. After 2 days of Speedy Gonzales’ morning hunts and skipping the afternoon hunt due to heat, Price asked me if I wanted to hunt the afternoon for turkeys and hogs. The temperature was going to edge near 105 degrees. Again, how could I refuse?

Since I figured my chances were better for a hog than a gobbler, I swapped barrels for the .50 caliber muzzleloader. If I was lucky enough to stumble on a vocal gobbler, Texas allows you to shoot turkeys with a rifle. It was the perfect backup plan in case I couldn’t get barrels swapped with speed. Price didn’t drop me off this time. He had a strong hunch of where the turkeys that had been giving me the slip were headed.

On the way to the shady hideaway we jumped an illegal alien. At least we figured he was illegal since he ran from his shady bed faster than a spooked whitetail. Of course it probably didn’t help that two guys dressed in head-to-toe camouflage and carrying a gun almost stepped on him. Our thoughts of the border jumper were quickly pushed aside by a distant gobble. Did we really hear it? Heck, it was the middle of the afternoon and 105 degrees out, but a repeat confirmed a gobbler was on the prowl.

Price pointed to a tree for me to back up against and he dove into some brush 30 yards behind me in hopes of luring the gobbler past me. I knew I had to be precise in aiming since my muzzleloading shotgun barrel was in the truck nearly a mile in the distance.

Starting out softly, Price perked the attention of the gobbler, which spit out another round of gobbles and showed an intensifying interest. I couldn’t believe it. Fifteen minutes later the gobbler ambled into view and it was a good thing I had the .50 caliber instead of my earlier choice of the muzzleloading 12 gauge. The bird paralleled me at 60 yards on the opposite side of a creek, but his skirting days stopped with the pounding of a Hornady SST. Perseverance, a firearm with range and soft talk turned this cagey bird into a Butterball feast.

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