Mossy Oak’s Kevin Burleson Says Rio Grande Gobblers Are Different
with John E. Phillips
Editor’s Note: Kevin Burleson, near Brody, Texas, who operates the Heart of Texas Bowhunting ranch, offers Rio Grande turkey hunting in the spring for both bowhunters and shotgun hunters. Mossy Oak wanted to know what makes Rio Grande turkeys different from Eastern gobblers, and what hunting these birds is like. Burleson, a Mossy Oak and PSE Pro Staffer, appears on the “Mossy Oak Deer Thugs” TV show on the Pursuit Channel.
One of the things that makes Rio Grande turkeys in my section of the country near Brady, Texas, different from Eastern gobblers is that our turkeys don’t have specific trees they roost in every night. Our gobblers like to travel and tend to roost wherever they are when nightfall approaches. Several creek bottoms are on our property with pecan trees along the edges of the creeks. Turkeys may be in those creek bottoms but probably won’t roost in the same tree every night. So, catching up with gobblers early in the morning before they fly off the roost is a big challenge.
We hunt these turkeys by getting to a spot where we know the turkeys like to be after they fly down from the roost. Then we use a shock call like a coyote caller or a coyote howler to get a turkey to gobble. Owl calls also work very well, but I think the coyote callers are the best. One advantage we have when hunting Rio Grande turkeys is they tend to set-up on the routes they travel every day. They usually will be feeding down in a draw or across the top of a ridge at around the same times every day. Like other turkeys, Rio Grandes set-up strutting zones in open fields where they want to meet their hens. Many turkey hunters in the East hear a turkey gobble and go to that turkey. They’re trying to hunt that turkey where he is. Out here in Texas, we hunt the turkey where he will be. We don’t have many green fields, but we do have places where they like to feed or strut, and we usually set-up in those places.