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.
I was guiding a father and a son on a bowhunt for turkeys. We were sitting in a Mossy Oak pop-up ground blind, in an area where I expected a turkey to come. As the turkey moved in, he drifted off to one side of the blind and started gobbling behind us. So, we all turned around in the blind, closed all the windows behind us and opened up one of the shooting ports in the back of the blind. The boy was trying to shoot the turkey, and I was trying to get into position to film the hunt. By this time, the turkey had drifted about 40-yards behind the blind. My bowhunter finally took the shot, and I watched the arrow hit the turkey. The gobbler jumped straight up in the air, flopped and flopped and then lay still on the ground. All three of us got out of the blind, and the dad and his son went to look for the arrow. They walked all around the bird, searching for the arrow. When my hunter finally walked up to his bird, he laid his bow on the ground to pick up the turkey. Suddenly the turkey’s head came up, and he took off running. Of course, that turkey could outrun the dad and the son, and I was trying to film all the action. The turkey finally made it to the ridge and into some thick cover. We decided to return later and get him.
When we went back to the ridge later, we had no problem finding the gobbler. He was laying only a few yards from where we had seen him enter the thick cover. When I examined the bird, I saw that my young hunter had made a lethal shot. I still don’t understand how that turkey was able to jump up and run after being shot through the vitals. Once we arrived at camp and looked at the video, everyone really started laughing. Seeing that father in hot pursuit of a bird that was supposed to be dead was far-more interesting than watching the boy make a lethal shot at 40 yards. The really strange thing about the shot was we had the turkey within 20 yards of the blind, but there were two or three other turkeys with this gobbler, and my hunter couldn’t get a clear shot. If I hadn’t been directing my shooter, there’s a good chance this young man would have shot two gobblers with one arrow. By the time this one gobbler split off from the other turkeys and decided to leave, he was 40-yards away at the back of the blind.