Down on the Rio Grande - Turkey Time By Jim Miller
May 19, 2010 - 6:00:54 AM
This is one of the most sacred thoughts to me as a kid growing up and watching John Wayne, Westerns and some how the Rio Grand, Rio Grande, or the Rio Bravo what ever you want to call the famous River that separates a large portion of the U.S. and Mexico seemed to be always in one of his movies. Then Johnny Rodriquez came along in the 70's and sang a great Country Classic about Down on the Rio Grand, how does this all fit into a Rio Grande Turkey Hunt, you ask? Well lets travel back several months.
I was at the Second annual Mathews Dealer Show in Wisconsin Dells, WI at the Chula Vista Resort. And was visiting with Lennie Rezmer of Eastman Outdoors about hunting Rio Grande Gobblers and we decided that Lennie and his wife would come down and hunt turkey "Down on the Rio Grande"
The winter really dragged and I though that the last week of March would nevershow up. Finally we had some very nice weather that would get the gobblers cranked up. Of course Lennie and I had stayed in touch through out the winter and he and Connie were ready for the break from the long winter in Michigan. They showedup in San Antonio around 11:00 am and both had their new Mathews bows set up and ready to go hunt gobblers.
As we drove to Del Rio, Texas, I stopped off in Hondo, TX. at My favorite Jalisco Mexican Restaurant "EL Rodeo" and we had some of the best home cooked Mexican food you will ever put a tooth to. What a way to start hunting trip.
Lennie and Connie, ready to go get em some turkey.
We arrived at Del Rio, Texas and then crossed into Acuna, Coahulia Mexico and went through the check points in U.S. and Mexico. FYI, you do not have to declare bowhunting equipment in Mexico like you do guns so the check point was handled quickly. We then drove a short 30 minutes from the city limits of Acuna and on to the ranch 'Rancho La Venda' which is within the Rio Grande River Valley.
After getting our gear stored and shooting their bows to make sure they are on target we loaded up my truck and went out to get a good layout of the ranch and do some scouting for turkey. We started on the East side of the ranch near the creek and this creek is fed by the under ground springs that were created by Lake Amistad, and the water was ice cold, teaming with fish, ducks and all kinds of wildlife. We found a good looking spot and set up our ground blind along the creek. We then traveled to a high spot and listened till dark to roost some gobblers. We heard four different gobblers on the roost and several were within 200 yards of the blind. After a great meal and visitation with Jaime Garza our host at Rancho La Venda we went to bed with visions of Monster Gobblers Running to our Decoys with Lust in their Eyes.
There is just something about a 4:45 am wake up even though you're going to kill gobblers. It's just hard to get rolling that early until I get that first jolt of hot black coffee in my stomach and then I'm ready to tackle those monster gobblers I had dreamt about all night!
We arrived at our blind at 6:50 am and it was just breaking light as we crawled into the blind. I knew we were in trouble! The wind was howling out of the Southeast and there was no way those gobblers were going to hear our calling. We had placed our decoys out in front of our blind and settled in calling anyway. Hoping we could get some action through all that howling wind. I started out with a fly down cackle and then lost called. And then we waited NOTHING! Nada! Zip, Zilch.
Changing tactics I went into my boring calling program of making small / low calls purrs / clucks/ yelps on the five's and loud/ cuts/ cackles / lost calls on the quarters. I figured if any gobblers were moving through the area they would hear my calling and if they were in the right frame of mind they would come in.
The morning crawled by and around 10:30 am I suggested to Lennie and Connie That we pull up stakes and find a new area to hunt. They agreed so we went back to camp had a late breakfast/ early lunch and moved to the west side of the ranch, still staying on the same creek bottom.
We drove into the area and it had a large amount of huisahache (acacia type of tree with plenty of thorns) and the ground underneath was bare and I knew that the Gobbler wouldlove moving thru this type of cover where they would have protection from hawks and owls and yet, still be able to see the underscore.
We had gone about a ½ of a mile down a sendero (two track) and I decided to stop and make a lost call and you know it, a gobbler answered me. Before we could get the truck parked, a blind up and all of our gear in the blind or get ready to film the wily bird knew exactly where we were and was on us!
He gave an alarm cluck and was gone. No choice, so we traveled further into the huisahache and set up our blind. This time I waited for a half an hour to pass to let things settle down. I then started making low calls followed by loud calls which are part of my calling sequence. After making the first lost call I had a gobbler cut loose rattling the blind and when I looked out there were three long beards came strutting in and they were really close. One of the gobblers really loved the mating cackle and would boom out a gobble every time I gave a mating cackle.
As the Gobblers came in strutting they got close to my decoys and were all fired up until they saw the Juvenile Delinquent. That's when the dominate gobbler folded down and started to walk away. Not wanted him to get out of range I cut loose with a mating cackle and they all went back into a strut. They were fired up but they started walking out into the sendero. They were starting to lose interest in the decoys and started to eating "yella akerns" which we had put out for the hogs last evening.
Connie picked up her bow and got ready to put an arrow into the dominate gobbler. We watched as she drew her bow, picked a spot and let fly one of the wicked Carbon Express Arrows with a F-15 fixed blade broadhead, and shot right over the top of the birds back. I let loose with a cut and cackle and those gobblers went right back into strut. Connie, got another arrow ready, took careful aim and turned the arrow loose. This one didn't miss.
Connie may have missed the first shot but she was dead on for the second.
The bird went up in the air and came down at the same time I started cutting real hard and the other two went back into strut as the dominate bird went about 10 yards and laid down. I knew he was in big trouble, we could see him laying down and not moving. As we waited, the two other birds hung around for about two hours more then finally tired of the game and walked off. Lennie and I then went and collected Connie's turkey. This one was a real dandy with a 10)" beard, 1" spurs and weighed 20 Lbs. A true Mexico trophy Rio Grande.
It was now 7:00 pm and we crawled back into the ground blind. We no sooner got settled in when we heard pigs squealing and cracking corn. Get the arrows ready and the mesquite wood hot for the pit! Lennie got his bow ready and before you know it we had about ten sows and maybe 40 little pigs eating and cracking corn in front of us. Lennie picked out a big dry sow and hammered her with a Eastman Outdoors F-15 expandable. The pigs scattered like a covey of quail and the sow that Lennie shot ran about 70 yards and was bled out completely. We dressed the hog out and hauled her back to the truck.
Lennie with his corn eating hog. Feeding is over, time to Bar-B-que.
Our last morning and Lennie was still looking for a turkey so we returned to the
same location and blind. As we was crawling into the blind we could hear four or five different birds, gobbling their butts off.
As daylight came and went we still did not have a long beard in front of us. At 9:00 am we watched as two came in. Before we turned around they had moved in behind our blind within 10 yards and started to cluck and putt. They slowly circled our blind putting on a great show.
The next thing we knew we had two more birds come in and we had a dawg fight from hell. Feathers were flying in every direction as the two dominate birds whipped the heck out of the two subordinates and the race was on. Plus we then had 5 jakes come in and that really fired up everyone. While all of this was going on Lennie picked out a big boss gobbler and drew his bow back and equipment failure occurred. The arrow rest did not come up and the arrow skipped down the sendero and over the top of his intended target. It was bedlam as turkey exploded toward the river.
As we sat and talked about the hunt and the number of turkeys we heard and saw it was agreed by everyone that we would be back next spring "Down on the Rio Grande" chasing and shooting arrows at birds and hogs.
We want to thank our host and my compadre Jaime Garza for allowing us to come and hunt with him and his wonderful staff. The one thing about keeping hunting journals is that they keep the memories of the hunt and the people you hunt with alive so you never forget.
What memories I have from this hunt that will last forever. Especially seeing Connie's face light up with that gobbler in her hands. If you're interested in booking a great turkey and hog hunt in Mexico next spring feel free to give me a call or go to my website and get information.