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Texas’ 2007 Spring Turkey Outlook
Plenty of mature toms are out there, and ready to talk turkey. How’s the coming spring season shaping up around our state? ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
Texas’ Spring Turkey Forecast
If you’re expecting a good year in the turkey woods, you’re probably right! Here’s how things are shaping up for turkey chasers around the Lone Star State. (March 2008).

Photo by Burt Carey

All these years later, I still don’t know for sure how it happened -- but the experience haunts me yet.

A friend invited me to join him for a spring turkey hunt in Mason County, the veritable bull’s-eye of the best turkey territory in Texas. After a comfortable night in an old two-story ranch house, German-built and made of rock, that had been converted into a bed and breakfast, we moved quietly in the dark early morning down a sandy two-rut road toward the Llano River.

Clad in camo head to boot, we positioned ourselves with our backs to a couple of big live oaks and waited for what proved to be a glorious April dawn. Before long we heard the distant gobble of a newly risen tom looking for love in all the wrong places. A turkey’s gobble will carry a mile, but this one sounded closer.

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Larry raised his call and started talking turkey. When the gobbler answered one of his lovelorn putt-putts and plaintive yelps, we knew we had the tom’s attention. Over the next 10 minutes or so, sitting as quiet and still as I could, I eavesdropped on an intimate conversation between a polygamous gobbler and a too-good-to-be-true hen. The self-taught Larry seemed to be able to talk the talk of a feathered flirt.

Firmly griping my old reliable .22 Magnum pump, I listened as the gobbles got louder and louder, the decibel level growing to match the sound it felt like my pounding heart must be making. The gobbler’s heart must have been racing as well, but for different reasons. He thought he was about to make a new friend. I, on the other hand, realized I had a healthy gobbler strutting straight toward my place of concealment.

And then he came into view, bronze feathers fanned and scaled feet dancing at the prospect of love in the time of bluebonnets. The sun bounced off his finery (for trivia buffs, some 5,000 feathers) as he came a-courtin’. When I threw up my gun, he filled the lens of my scope. Delaying only a moment to marvel at his nice beard, I laid the crosshairs squarely on his chest and pulled the trigger.

It was a shot I couldn’t miss and I didn’t. He rolled over in a spray of dust, his vision of romance shattered by the crack of a high-speed bullet. But when I stood up to go get my turkey, he got up as well, electing for an immediate change of scenery. Before I could shoot again, he had disappeared in the river bottom.

It hurts too much to finish the story. Suffice it to say I didn’t get that gobbler. As best we could figure, my bullet made a neat hole in his breast muscle, missing anything important, and slammed hard if harmlessly against a breastbone that on this morning acted like a built-in piece of body armor.

Not long after, I traded off the gun, blaming the rifle for my overconfidence. Of course, a .22 Magnum has plenty enough punch to take down a big gobbler. As close as he was, I realize now that I should have raised my aim and zeroed in on his neck. Alas, a lesson learned.

The only solace I can take is that I am not alone in having gotten an education from a prideful Tom.

Zavala County rancher John Kingsbery, a World War II veteran, former rodeo rider and accomplished taleteller, had another sad story to relate.

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