The elusive tom

Story by Lili Sams, Lone Star Outdoor News

Photo by Lone Star Outdoor News

The goal was a mature Rio Grande turkey, without assistance from a experienced hunter and caller as guide.

It took more than a decade to achieve.

“I’m not what you would call a lucky turkey hunter,” said Lone Star Outdoor News’ Executive Editor Craig Nyhus. “My hunts have been foiled in every way possible.”

Cows showing up at the wrong time and knocking over the decoy; gobblers coming from seemingly the wrong direction; a neighboring landowner driving to check out where the noise was coming from as a gobbler approached the decoys; and opening the eyes too wide when getting surprised by an unexpected gobbler.

Photo by Lone Star Outdoor News

Photo by Lone Star Outdoor News

“My friends talk about seeing birds, calling a few times and having them come running in so they can watch them strut,” Nyhus said. “That didn’t happen to me.”

On Thursday evening at the X-S Ranch in Sutton County, it was a typical no-luck hunt, without even a gobble or a hen’s cluck.

“I stayed in one spot and probably should have moved,” Nyhus said.

Friday morning started off the same.

“After nothing early, I covered a lot of ground, stopping to call every so often,” he said. “The landowner of the X-S Ranch, MD Shurley, told me when he picked me up that the birds were another few hundred yards ahead of where I turned around. Figures.”

Another spot was tried in the late morning, near a water trough that might bring in some birds.

“It did,” Nyhus said. “One was gobbling behind me and two hens and a jake came to water. That ended that.”

An hour later, another hen was nearby.

“I had a hen decoy out,” Nyhus said. “She didn’t like it and was making a lot of racket and I answered back. She stood in one spot for at least 15 minutes — we had a little battle going on.”

A little later, the hunter knew why.

“I looked behind me and there he was, in full strut about 80 yards away,” Nyhus said. “The hen was in front of him.”

The battle of sounds began.

“I kept calling lightly,” Nyhus said. “She did too, but finally she started to move on. The gobbler came out from behind her, following, so I got a little louder.”

This gobbler broke the bad-luck chain, though, and turned and headed toward the hen decoy, until at about 25 yards, the shot was taken and he was down.

“I guess I won that battle with the hen,” Nyhus said. “All the messed up hunts were worth it.”