Ladies Turkey Hunt for Texas Rios

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Ladies Turkey Hunt for Texas Rios

Posted 2013-04-08T10:56:00Z

Ladies Turkey Hunt for Texas Rios

I'm sitting in the airport in San Antonio exhausted but elated. I've just taken my second Rio Grande gobbler, and I couldn't have asked for a better hunt.

I was pregnant with my second little boy when I took my first Rio, a big four-bearded gobbler, during a freak April snowstorm. At that point, I wouldn't have dreamed that I wouldn't kill another bird for six years, but life gets in the way sometimes. I gave birth to my son Ransom that following September, and then 20 months later I had twin girls. Finding time to breathe, much less hunt, has become quite difficult. That's why when Cally Morris of Hazel Creek Taxidermy called and invited me on a women's hunt, I hesitated. I was dying to go, but between caring for my kids, running my business and preparing for a move into a new house in a few weeks, I knew it wasn't exactly prudent to be flying off to Texas in pursuit of longbeards. But, sometimes you've just gotta throw caution to the wind and follow your heart, and I'm certainly glad I did.

As Cally, his wife, Annetta, and I pulled into the beautiful South Texas Los Sueños Ranch owned by Alan Griffin, I felt both giddy and nervous. I was rusty. I hadn't shot a gun in quite some time. I worried about making a fool of myself in front of the other lady hunters and knowing that Cally was going to film the hunt added to my anxiety.

The first morning of the hunt, we set up in the dark, being careful not to sit on a cactus, or even worse, a rattlesnake. The guides positioned two hens and a strutter decoy on the dirt road in front of us. Cally's Hazel Creek decoys are made from taxidermied birds. They're remarkable, and they work like a charm.

As the sun began to rise, the toms began to gobble and I began to tremble. My nerves, the cool breeze and my awkward sitting position caused me to shake so badly, I worried if I'd be able to hit a gobbler should one approach.

Our guides, Bob and Walker Daugherty with Redwing Outfitters, called in a couple of hens and jakes right off the roost. I could see a gobbler hanging back from the flock, but he didn't come into range and eventually disappeared into the brush. As some time passed, I began to relax a bit, only to be sent back into the jitters by an approaching gobbler and group of jakes.

The gobbler approached from the left, and then spooked, jumping back a bit. He approached again and got spooked again. This time he decided to leave for good. As he ducked under the fence, Cally whispered, Kill that turkey, Stephanie. I put the bead just below his head and fired. I was shaking so ridiculously bad at this point that I ended up making a body shot, but the turkey went down and my hunt was a success.

I can't begin to tell you how excited and relieved I felt to finally have a bird on the ground after so many years. Cally later explained to me that the gobbler spooked because the decoys were set up too tightly. Gobblers are extremely claustrophobic. If the decoys are positioned too close to one another, the turkeys won't hang around. I witnessed this first-hand and appreciated the tip.

I'm on the plane now, flying high above the clouds and floating on them as well. After several years, I'm finally returning home with a bird under my belt. Feels good.

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