What started out as a slow first week for big toms in the South Zone has begun to pick up.
Nick Anderson, hunt leader at the Brushy Hill Ranch in Sabinal, said hunting is going well, but he has seen a huge change in the last 7 days.
“These upcoming weeks are looking really good,” Anderson said. “Last week, we saw a lot of birds on camera but couldn’t find them.”
Anderson said the drought has stressed the birds and they weren’t gobbling as much. Anderson and his customers are now seeing more birds answering their calls — more jakes than mature birds.
Last year, the hens were more spread out by this time, but this year the hens are still in big flocks, often being followed by jakes. Anderson is finding the best time to hunt is 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. if the hunters are near water, or 11 a.m. throughout the day if they are near a roost.
At the Y-Bar Ranch in Tilden, Office Manager Mellissa Bielonka has seen a lot of happy hunters coming back with turkeys in hand.
“Every hunter coming in has shot their bird,” Bielonka said.
Bielonka said the guides are reporting turkeys gobbling well and responding to the calls. The hens are starting to spread out throughout the ranch but mature birds are harder to find. The hunters have been shooting toms in the early morning and again between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Texas Game Warden Chris Swift called the LSON office today and reported solid hunting around the Cuero and Beeville areas.
“We hunted two different ranches last week — one near Cuero and the other near Beeville,” Swift said. “There was not a lot of gobbling on either ranch. The birds would gobble on the roost and then for about 30 minutes on the ground before they got henned up.”
Swift said his group had to hunt in the middle of the day to shoot their gobblers.
“There were a lot of turkeys on both ranches,” he said. “In Beeville, it was the same for gobbling, but there were a lot more 2- and 3-year-old birds. We had success using the strutter decoy, and I shot my mature bird at 4 p.m.
“I’ve never seen so many turkeys on these ranches. In two weeks, I think it will be even better.”
Swift said to hunt strutting zones and dusting areas. He said his group did not hunt feeders, but they saw birds at the feeders everyday around noon.
“The big gobblers had hens all day long,” he said. “I know it is early because the hens are still in big groups, the gobblers are still in big groups and the jakes are still in big groups.”