For nine years I served in the Marines and served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantry machine gunner. After I started working jobs that involved offices my need to get back outdoors drew me to hunting. Three years ago I started getting into hunting seriously. I used to go once a year but now I try to go way more.
As I was getting more into it I started learning about turkey hunting and wanted to try it. I had no one in the family who had any experience turkey hunting and my Dad swore there were no turkey's in East Texas. On this forum I met up with a guy who offered to take me to a public land spot that he had heard and seen evidence of turkeys. This guy is a turkey hunting guru and I figured that out fast.
In the spring of 2014 we went to the Sabine National Forest and planned on camping out there two days. By nine in the morning he had his eastern turkey down. We went to the check in station and then by the time we got back it was 12. We figured we would call a little bit and then go set up camp. He called a little and then both of us fell asleep. At 2PM my first turkey came running in and in my dazed state from just being woken up I still hit my target. He posted the whole story on this forum back then.
This spring we tried to hunt together again but our schedules did not work out. I made a few calls to some folks at the TPWD and the NWTF and they pointed me to a hidden gem where you could walk in and hunt Rio Grande Turkeys on public land.
I showed up on April 17th after a long drive and talked to a local named John Black. He pointed me to some good locations to start. My brother who was going to be my hunting partner was not arriving until later and since I had some time I decided to run up to the hunting ground and run the call a little. After ten minutes of calling I heard a faint gobble. The road was a mess coming up and I almost got stuck so after thirty minutes of sitting a drizzle started and I decided to leave. As I rose to retrieve the decoys I heard a distinctive "putt". That both frustrated me and excited me now I know there are turkeys here but just a few more minutes and I might have called in my first gobbler.
The next morning was rough. We stayed up drinking to late but we still made it out before sun up. We began to set out to one of the spots the local contact gave me on the map. Much to every Marine reading this disappointment we screwed up and ended up setting up in the wrong spot. My brother the east coast Marine and I the west coast Marine have no excuses. At 10 we realized our mistake and moved out. We ended up hitting two spots in rapid succession not hearing birds or seeing any sign. We moved to a spot in side a fenced field where the game manager grows wheat for deer and turkeys. I had dropped my striker on the hike and could not find it so I had to walk a mile back to get another one I had left with some other gear. My brother stayed there in the event a wondering gobbler saw our decoys and came in without a call going. I was tired and pissed off so when I got back we were going to look at one other spot if we didnt see anything or hear anything then we were going to leave. As we walked we saw tracks leading to the spot we were going. When we got there tracks were all over. We decided to sit and call. After ten minutes of calling I thought I heard a gobble. I called again and then I heard the gobble for real this time. I told my brother he was on his way. He did not believe me and proceeded to get comfortable to go back to sleep. I waited twenty minutes then called and my brother was awakened to a loud gobble ten yards away from him. He watched the bird come out of the woods and get ready to gobble again then he fired. My brother just knocked down his bird and I had called in my first. We called it a day after the celebration because we were both spent. After the victory beers we did no drinking and were asleep by 8PM.
The next morning feeling a little refreshed we got out to the hunting ground a little after sun up. We began walking out to the spot we sat in the day before when a cow mooed and three gobblers sounded off very close. We were not even three hundred yards from the truck. We began calling and all three birds came running and gobbling the whole way. They were real close when I made a call and to my ever lasting frustration coyotes started howling from all directions. We sat in the silence for ten minutes then called again. Nothing but coyotes answered. My brother and I decided the turkeys were long gone and we were ready to move. I stood up and turned the corner to grab the decoys when I saw one of the gobblers bolting not ten yards from us.
We started to walk to the spot we discovered yesterday laughing at out amateurish efforts and impatience. We came across the field we had sat at yesterday and something told me to call. We stopped I pulled out the call and a loud booming gobble came from very close. We set down and called. Our set up was perfect we had a long range of visibility and every call was answered with a gobble. We set perfectly still. Soon I saw the tom run across the path and enter the field we were sitting in the day before. He strutted the whole way in. He went under the fence and ran up to our jake decoy struttin and staring down the decoy. I let him interact with the decoy and waited for an opening. Then his head raised up and his body turned away from me so my shot would not mess up the tail feathers so I fired. He dropped and I had my first Rio on the ground.
I want to thank Terrance Jackson, Jason Hardin, The NWTF, and John Black for making this a wonderful hunt and lifelong memory. If you want to know where we were I will be happy to tell you but you have to pick up the phone like I did.