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Texasí 2007 Spring Turkey Outlook
Plenty of mature toms are out there, and ready to talk turkey. Howís the coming spring season shaping up around our state? (March 2007)

In the Hill Country last spring, the author shot this longbeard after it came to a box call. It dropped just 20 yards from the muzzle of Brandonís .410!
Photo by Brandon Ray

Nothing gets me more excited about an upcoming spring turkey season than reflection on the best memories of the last one.

In 2006 I shared some great hunts with friends and family in Central Texas and the Panhandle. In early April I watched my wife, Amy Ray, get off a round from her single-shot 20-gauge to tag a huge tom. Later in the season, I witnessed a few buddies armed with bows and 12-gauges tagging 10-inch longbeards. And along the way, even I managed to tag out on Texas toms -- two downed by means of archery tackle, two others blown away by a .410 shotgun.

Where else but in Texas can a hunter achieve such success?


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One of the more memorable birds from last year was a gobbler with jumbo-sized spurs that I arrowed near the town of San Angelo. The hunt was memorable, but painful at the same time.

TOM GREEN COUNTY, APRIL 9, 2006
It started in the dark. I heard what sounded like three different gobblers sounding off only 150 yards away. Like a slow yawn, the thorny landscape started to come to life with a hint of daylight. When I finally spotted a turkey silhouette in a distant oak tree, I also heard the sounds of wings beating the air. The turkeys were coming out of the trees like falling acorns.

Then, for what seemed like an eternity, all was silent. Finally, I spied a few hens headed my way, weaving through the cedar bushes on a dusty cow trail. Behind them was a strutting gobbler as big as a washing machine. His black beard stuck straight out of his inflated chest maybe 8 inches. He seemed to be showing it off, like the winner of a race proudly wearing a blue ribbon.

For more than 30 minutes the harem of dust-colored hens wandered around me. Some came within hand-shaking distance of the front window of my ground blind. The big tom, however, stayed hidden behind a screen of bright green mesquites 50 yards away, never getting out of his strut. I had the best bait in the world -- live female turkeys -- at armís length, but wondered if he would ever come close enough.

A lifetime later, that bird started a slow-motion shuffle in my direction. When he went behind a bushy cedar tree I drew my bow. He reappeared at 18 yards, facing me in a full strut. I was testing a new, aggressive broadhead, its 4-inch cutting width designed specifically for head and neck shots at turkeys, so when I had a clear look at my targetís colorful neck, I dropped the string, and stiff carbon arrow met turkey neck dead center with a loud thwack.

The tom stumbled and fluttered around like a fish out of water. In a rush to claim my prize, I exploded out of the blind and pounced on him like a cat. When I hefted the flapping bird by one leg, his opposite leg kicked me, jabbing its needle-sharp 1 1/2-inch-long spur into my left hand like an icepick.


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