Rios Bravo!

First stop was the West Texas Feed and Mercantile in Eldorado to get our licenses and last-minute supplies.
The gals in the shop were very helpful and two of them were very pregnant. They told us it was something in the water.
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.
Turkey camp: 5 a.m. The boys are loading up on coffee, oatmeal cookies and lies before heading out to hunt.
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.
A couple soft purrs and yelps on a slate call was all it took to get the gobblers to sound off and puff up.
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.
The bird has pretty nice hooks on him--he was a three-year-old in all likelihood.
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.
Ben Maki posing with my and my bird. He has a hell of a beard on him for a Rio.
The turkey's feathers erupt in gold, copper and green iridescent colors in the sun.
Another detail of the Rio's plumage.
And another.
Hiking out with the bird.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walking back out of the mesquite with a bird over the shoulder. Success.
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.
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.
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.
First morning. Two shots. Two Rios. Life is good.
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.
One of the hunters in camp killed a nice blackbuck on the ranch with a 7mm-08.
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.
Another camp ritual: taking a siesta while watching turkey hunting videos before the afternoon hunt.
Bad news for the turkeys: A rack of tightly-choked camo shotguns ready to roll.
Ben Maki guides another hunter to a bird. This Rio was killed by Mark Estrada.
Mark shows off the hooks on his Rio.
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.