Rios Bravo!

Shooting Editor John Snow goes head-to-head with Rio Grande gobblers in Texas.

httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey02.jpg
First stop was the West Texas Feed and Mercantile in Eldorado to get our licenses and last-minute supplies.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey03.jpg
The gals in the shop were very helpful and two of them were very pregnant. They told us it was something in the water.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey04.jpg
Our destination was the James L. Powell Ranch, which is the largest sheep ranch in the country. The ranch’s ample food, water and lack of predators makes for ideal turkey habitat.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey05.jpg
Turkey camp: 5 a.m. The boys are loading up on coffee, oatmeal cookies and lies before heading out to hunt.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey06.jpg
The early morning light on the fan of the Rio I shot the first morning. We had set up perfectly near a roosting area and the birds pitched down nearly into our laps.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey07.jpg
A couple soft purrs and yelps on a slate call was all it took to get the gobblers to sound off and puff up.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey08.jpg
My buddy Ben Maki from Mossy Oak with my bird over his shoulder. Ben had done his homework by scouting out the roosting area and guided me to the bird that first morning.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey09.jpg
The bird has pretty nice hooks on him–he was a three-year-old in all likelihood.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey10.jpg
As soon as we got back to the truck we punched the tag. If you’re really ambitious you can kill four birds in Texas each spring.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey11.jpg
Ben Maki posing with my and my bird. He has a hell of a beard on him for a Rio.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey12.jpg
The turkey’s feathers erupt in gold, copper and green iridescent colors in the sun.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey13.jpg
Another detail of the Rio’s plumage.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey14.jpg
And another.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey15.jpg
Hiking out with the bird.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey16.jpg
Time for my buddy Pete Angle from Under Armor to get a bird. That’s Pete following Ben to a watering hole out in the mesquite.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey17.jpg
We spent some time glassing the water hole before moving in to make sure we didn’t bust any birds that might already be there.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey18.jpg
Pete shoots…and scores. This tom came in with another tom to check out the hens that were scratching and feeding right in front of us. Nothing like having live decoys to bring in the boys.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey19.jpg
You can’t go wrong with hunting water sources in the middle of the day in dry areas like Texas. Be patient and the birds will come.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey20.jpg
Walking back out of the mesquite with a bird over the shoulder. Success.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey21.jpg
Two different shotguns, same result. I was shooting the camo 870 with the red dot on top. I like that gun’s oversized thumbhole stock. It is very comfortable. Pete’s gun on the left, a Winchester 1300, is undeniably more stylish and with its single brass bead has a more old-school feel.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey22.jpg
I used 1 7/8 ounces of No. 5 shot in these Remington Nitro Turkey loads on my bird. It killed him in his tracks.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey23.jpg
Here’s one sheep that didn’t make it on the ranch. We found his skull next to a spot where we stopped to take a photo of Pete’s and my bird together.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey24.jpg
First morning. Two shots. Two Rios. Life is good.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey25.jpg
Everywhere you look–and, unfortunately sit–in Texas you’re going to find cactus. Every time I come home from a trip to that great state I spend the next two weeks digging thorns from my hands, arms, legs and butt. A hunt in Texas is the gift that keeps giving.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey26.jpg
One of the hunters in camp killed a nice blackbuck on the ranch with a 7mm-08.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey27.jpg
Dustin Whitacre, from Mossy Oak, cleaning up the latest birds that have come into camp. Over the first two days the guys in camp shot something like 14 toms.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey28.jpg
Another camp ritual: taking a siesta while watching turkey hunting videos before the afternoon hunt.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey29.jpg
Bad news for the turkeys: A rack of tightly-choked camo shotguns ready to roll.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey30.jpg
Ben Maki guides another hunter to a bird. This Rio was killed by Mark Estrada.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey31.jpg
Mark shows off the hooks on his Rio.
httpswww.outdoorlife.comsitesoutdoorlife.comfilesimport2014importImage2010photo6TXturkey32.jpg
Great rope on Mark’s beard. The Mossy Oak/Under Armor Rio roundup will go for another two weeks.

Shooting Editor John Snow goes head-to-head with Rio Grande gobblers in Texas.