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Bob Robb
Turkey Trot
By Bob Robb
Apr 29, 2008 - 12:14:38 AM
 

When it comes to turkey hunting, nobody has ever called me “Lucky.” Oh sure, I have shot my share of gobblers around the country, but you’ll never confuse my sad calling skills with those of even a local contest winner. And it just seems like on many of my turkey hunts, something improbable happens.

 Like having a big gobbler charge me and, having to get hid quick, plop down on the only fire ant hole in three counties. (Now I know what the phrase “dancing like he had ants in his pants really means.) Or the time just west of San Antonio when I was hunting on a big ranch and permitted to do my own thing. I had a hot gobbler fly down off the roost and begin strutting in a little open spot among some small oaks but not coming to my call, so I decided to sneak him. That’s when I belly-crawled over a small hump and came face-to-face with a mangy bobcat thinking the same thing. I’m not sure who jumped higher, but I do believe that turkey has not yet stopped running – or laughing.

Then there’s the weather. Late snow storms and rain squalls have wrecked many a turkey hunt over years, and cold and wind have made life miserable for both gobbler and hunter. Those nice, bright days you see on all those cable TV shows never seem to occur when Bob shows up.

 
Of course, many years ago, having now become something of a turkey hunting “guru” (in the outdoor writing business it is not uncommon for many writers to go on some guided hunt financed by a manufacturer, shoot an animal, then in their own mind become an “expert” now qualified to write the definitive treatise on the topic) I decided to take up turkey bowhunting. Little did I know I was about to get an education in humility.

This was back before Double Bull popularized the pop-up hunting blind, and before Feather Flex started the turkey decoy craze. Back then it was get on the ground and go hunting, simply substituting my compound for the 12 gauge. I tried killing a gobbler on my own and got spanked so badly so many times I thought about filing abuse charges with the DNR. A few times I even hunted with some of the very best turkey callers and hunters in the nation. These guys could bring birds in, but we all quickly learned that getting drawn and an arrow off without being busted was about as easy as a politician keeping a campaign promise.

 
Scouting on the go proved to be the ticket for me on my 2007 Texas hunt. When I found a spot where gobblers were traveling under a fence from a roost area to strutting pastures, deciding to build a quick blind and set up was an easy choice.

Then one afternoon in western Kentucky it all came together. I went off alone and built a makeshift ground blind on the edge of a green field, then set up a couple of old feather Flex hen decoys 20 yards from my spot before hunkering down. I decided to not lower my odds by calling, instead playing treestand whitetail hunter with a paperback book and a lot of patience. That afternoon a lone gobbler came to the field, saw my decoys and started gobbling his head off as he approached, puffed up like a big city lawyer in a singles bar during happy hour. When he turned his fan to me to strut I came to full draw, and when he spun sideways my broadhead zipped through both lungs. I about fainted.

Since that time I have bowhunted turkeys a lot. I’ve gotten a lot better as a turkey hunter over time, and though I still consider myself a rookie I have killed a lot of birds. And while I dearly love the stick & move style of hunting, the most effective way to bow hunt them remains the blind-and-decoy combination. Nowadays I’ll haul along one of those full-sized strutting gobbler decoys into which you can place a real turkey fan together with a couple of realistic hen imitations, set them up 20 yards from a comfortable pop-up blind, and get comfy with snacks and a good book to help pas the time. It’s big game hunting on a smaller scale and if you’re in a good area, very very effective.

The Primos B-Mobile, with real fan attached, has been very effective in drawing strutting longbeards in tight to my set-ups. These new decoy types can be very deadly!

Sometimes I get on the ground and go, though. Last April I went to a new spot in Texas, the Miller Creek Ranch just outside Seymour. There I met Stony Trainham, a 29- year old bundle of nervous energy who grew up hunting and fishing and, after trying to make a living doing other things, realized his love was the outdoors. That’s when he began a career guiding and found his calling. Today he outfits and guides on the family’s 5000 acre property, a low-fence family operation in Knox and Throckmorton counties.

 
There are plenty of places to turkey hunt in Texas. What drew me here was a conversation with my good friend Wade Derby (Crosshair Consulting, 925-679-9232; www.crosshairconsulting.com), easily the best hunt booking agent I have met in 30-some years in the hunting business. Wade told me all about Stony and the ranch, and while his tales of successful clients for a wide variety of hunting trips were impressive, what got me going was both the fact that here you are allowed to hunt on your own if you want, and the cost is less than $250/day, all inclusive. “I guide the guys when they want me to, but a lot of our clients like to hunt on their own,” Stony said. “If they have any skills at all they do quite well.” Not only does that keep the cost quite reasonable, it allows you to win or lose on your own merits, something that appeals greatly to me.
 
I killed this dandy Texas Rio in 2007 using a new BowTech Guardian compound bow affixed with a RipCord fall-away rest, Sonoran Bowhunting Products bow sight, and carbon arrows tipped with a 100-grain Thunderhead broadhead.

To make a long story short, one morning I went alone to a big brush field near a creek bottom where we had roosted some birds the evening before. I had found a spot where the birds were obviously crossing under the fence, so I carved out a little ground blind nearby and paled a Primos B-Mobile strutter decoy in front of me. Patience, patience, patience … and he they came. A whopper Rio gobbler saw the decoy and attacked, and when he gave me the chance I drew the BowTech Guardian back and zipped one through his ribs.

As you read this I’ll be getting ready for another spring of turkey bowhunting. First off is a stop in Florida where Cheryl and I will be after Osceola’s. Later I’ll be back at Stony’s and hunting a new spot in Texas. Finally, Cheryl and I are off to Chihuahua for Gould’s turkeys. It will be a wild and woolly spring that I am sure will be filled with way more takes of “almost” than “I got him!”

That’s why bowhunting is so special, though. Isn’t it?

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Primos
Ripcord Arrow Rest
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