My roots are in turkey hunting, and there is nothing I would rather do than chase spring gobblers with my family.Through hosting two television shows, I travel the world all year long hitting some of the top hunting destinations the earth has to offer.
This spring my wife was unlucky at work and did not get spring break off as a vacation, so I decided to take my dad and my 10 year-old twin boys to Texas for the spring turkey hunting opener. Good friend Tom Mansell invited us to stay on his ranch and said he had a few birds we could hunt. I spend some time looking at some RVs for sale in Texas, but ran out of time so I booked some cheap tickets and we were set.
We live in Kentucky, and anyone who knows a thing about the Bluegrass State realizes that basketball is king here. The week before our TX trip, our Kentucky Wildcats beat North Carolina to go on to the Final Four in Houston, and since I am a season ticket holder, I put in for Final Four tickets and drew two great lower arena seats. A new plan was hatched!
My son Drew is a basketball junkie, so we decided we would drive back and forth to the games as long as the Cats were in it, and hunt in between. It was a six- hour drive, but this is UK basketball.
Opening morning found my son Will under the weather, so I took Drew out to a Primos Double Bull blind I had set the evening before. We heard very little gobbling at dawn, and it was all in the distance. I decided to hang in until 9:00AM and then we had to get to camp and on the road for the ball game.
I called about every ten minutes through the first hour of the day, and at 8:00, a bird gobbled way behind us. I called a bit more and he began answering in earnest, and I knew we were in the game.
The old tom got pretty worked up, and I peaked out the back window of the blind, and I saw him across a big wheat field, but when I hit my call again, he tucked up and ran across the field and was then only 60 yards behind us.
He made a big swing around us, and I saw him enter our narrow field about 200 yards to our left, but he gobbled once and continued on up the hill away from us. I was completely shocked. He had come 500 yards on a string, and now he was going away!
I decided I had nothing to lose, so I began yelping aggressively and cutting some on my aluminum call and Primos diaphragm. The longbeard doubled gobbled, and within two minutes, he was back in our field. This time he had an attitude change, and he strolled right to us. He stopped at nine yards gobbling and then tucking in to strut, and he spun and pirouetted in the morning sun at point blank range.
Drew was on his TC Encore 12 gauge, and had the bird centered in his Nikon Turkey Pro BTR scope, but the old Rio would never stay still long enough for a shot. Finally he turned and faced us a second too long, and Drew released a 2 oz load of Hevi 13 #6’s that ended a spectacular hunt.
We took photos, grabbed a shower, and hit the road to Houston. We got there in time to see the second half of the Butler vs. VCU game, and then we watched as our Wildcats lost a heartbreaker by one point. For both of us, it truly was an experience of a lifetime to attend such an event. When you couple that with the fact that Drew took a nice 3 year-old Rio gobbler the same morning, it is a without a doubt one of the most memorable days of my life.
We drove the six hours back to the ranch the next day, and I was able to take my other son, Will, out the following morning. Conditions were just awful. We had cool temperatures and sustained 40mph winds. No gobbling was heard on the roost, and I just knew we were wasting our time.
Fifteen minutes after I though the turkeys should be on the ground, I bird answered my loud yelping on a box call, and I knew he had to be close to even hear him. I called again, and within 30 seconds, I saw two white heads literally running to us.
When the two young gobblers saw the decoys, they blew up into strut, and did the same spinning routine that Drew’s bird had. It took a full five minutes, but Will finally got his shot, and the TC and Hevi 13 again did their job. Will was ecstatic, and I was in heaven. Both my boys had taken their first Rio gobblers as I looked on, and at that point, the Final Four became a huge bonus.
We stayed a few more days, and it was quality time as a family, and the boys really enjoyed the week turkey hunting with their grandpa in camp as well. I am pretty sure I couldn’t write a better script for a spring break than this one. Just don’t tell Mom!!!