USA: Rio Grandes At The Rockin G Ranch


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Apr 15, 2009
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For whatever reason, I have never killed a turkey. I started hunting while in college in Virginia and did hunt them a little there with a close call or two. But since graduating I have not had much chance to hunt gobblers. It's not something that I haven't want to do, I consider turkey hunting in the spring to be somewhat similar to hunting elk in September with all the calling.

Well sometime last year I had hoped to hunt with Erik aka @gizmo at his ranch in west Texas. But work just wouldn't let that happen. But now with a long project completed at work and with it some vacation hours to use or lose, it was time to go blow off some steam and make this happen.

So last Tuesday evening my long time hunting buddy Kevin aka @AZ KJ and I headed northeast for the 800 mile trip to some 11 miles southeast of appropriately named Turkey, TX and the Rockin' G Ranch. Some 13 1/2 hours and several cups of coffee later, we arrived at the ranch gate and let ourselves in. Erik was still in Amarillo (some 100 miles away) getting supplies. We got our gear in and took a nap. A little while later Erik and his dad Chris arrived and it was on.

Our first day of hunting was to be Thursday but we got a hunt in that evening. Decoys were setup and some turkeys did come to Erik's calling but hung up just a bit far out to shoot.

On Thursday morning we setup in the creek bottom again, but the birds moved off in a different direction going to the field above the creek. The birds were calling, but they were really not hot for the call yet. We moved up to the edge of the field and one gobble took interest in a decoy and seemed to come in. His buddy who he had been in a game of walk one way and cut the other off then walk the other way pulled him away. Meanwhile a large group of gobblers was at one end of the field, but they just weren't interested in playing.

Thursday evening, a fried of Erik's arrived to act as a second guide. Wade is a good gent and very easy to get along with. The four of us setup on another edge of the same field mentioned above on Friday morning. Just as I got settled in I could see in a large cottonwood down in the creek bottom a group of 3 birds roosted at the top. As light came on this group of 3 became a group of 8 gobblers. The one at the very top was gobbling and fanning in the pre-dawn light. As the sun began to rise I watched the birds one by one fly out in different directions. After some time, we did have a hen and gobbler approach us from behind, probably no more than 60 yards away. But they just wouldn't come in to check out the decoys.

Off to the cabin we went for breakfast. About 10:30am we split up. Kevin with Erik and myself with Wade. KJ and Erik went to a spot in the bottom downstream of Wade an myself. We setup a popup blind and a couple of decoys. Once settled into the blind, Wade let out a few light calls. Down in the bottom you can see very far to the right, left or in front. I was sitting on the left and looking to the right with Wade on my right and he was looking left. We'd been in the blind no more than 10 minutes. As I was looking right I noticed Wade raise his left hand and pointing to the left with his index finger.......all I could think was you must be kidding.

I slowly turned my head left and sure enough two gobblers, one in the lead and the other about 5 yards behind were almost in the decoys. The lead bird was moving from my left to the right. I couldn't bring up my gun until that bird's head turned and so I waited. In short order he turned left and was moving away from me, I raised my Benelli and managed to get it pointed out the center window without spooking the birds.

No good.....the lead turkey now turned to his left and started back in the direction he came from. Now I can't without making a major move point my gun at the bird. So I pulled my gun back in and opened a small hole on the left and got my gun out. About this time the bird that was further out has crossed the creek and about to disappear into the brush and the closer bird drops down into the creek. No problem I'm thinking, I'll get him when he comes up the other side. But he doesn't appear. About now I'm thinking it's time for another quiet hen call.

I guess Wade read my mind as he hit the call. The closer bird decided to turn back around and come back up the creek bank towards us with his head and neck stretched up nice and high. The 3 1/2" shell did it's job and the bird dropped without a twitch.

The shotgun blast encouraged the further bird to jump and bolt behind some brush moving to my right. I think well if he continues on he'll come into an opening to the right. Instead he decided to come back and check on his fallen comrade. That was not a smart move as he also came back with his head and neck stretched high and the second shell did it's job. This bird fell and flopped its wings a few times but never raised his head much less get to his feet.

Time between shots, roughly 5-10 seconds. No turkeys to my name to two, I couldn't believe it.

KJ and Erik didn't have any better luck that day nor on Saturday. I got to have fun with Wade calling for coyotes and exploring the ranch. The wind very likely contributed to much of the problem. Sustained 30-40 MPH winds isn't good for calling. Not to mention temps in the high 90's on Thursday and Friday which then plummeted into the 30's Saturday morning.

So it was decided to give it one more go on Sunday morning for KJ. He and Erik went back to the field that morning mentioned above. Again the turkeys weren't in the mood to be called in. But Erik brought his .22-250 and Kevin got a shot on a nice gobbler.

Outside of chasing turkeys, there were a few beers drank, a number of lies told, a lot of great food ate that Erik cooked and an untold number of laughs had! In other words we had a great time and I very much look forward to hunting there again.

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Congratulation, Very Cool! The Rockin G has its share of Rios for sure.
Congrats to both of you!! Thanks for sharing your hunt!
That was a good hunt! Congrats Phil.
Congrats on your first turkeys! I expect that if I ever shoot my first gobbler it'll be at the Rockin G as well!
Looks like you could have used some more coffee in that first pic LOL

Congrats Phil! Can’t hardly believe that y’all drank any beer at the Rockin G! Lol. It is a great place for sure!
Looks like you could have used some more coffee in that first pic LOL


Had a head cover I'd taken off and forgot to put on my AH hat.....not my most picturesque moment for sure.
Thank you Phil, Bruce and I had a blast getting to hunt with ya’ll and can’t wait to do it again.
Thanks for sharing the hunt, Phoenix Phil! Turkey hunting can become highly addictive especially once you call one in yourself.
Calling in game of any kind is easily one of the most exciting ways to hunt!

Erik has some wonderful game on his place of all varieties!
Congrats on the hunt ... waiting patiently for the 25th of April to arrive so we can chase em here in Ontario!
Thank you Phil, Bruce and I had a blast getting to hunt with ya’ll and can’t wait to do it again.

Dang it, my poor name skills strike again. I had Wade in my head but meant Bruce. For those now confused, Wade is another friendly gent who works on the ranch. Bruce is the friend of Erik's that came in to guide too.
Nice job busting the Thunder Chickens!!!
Congrats to you all!

The Rocking G is hard to beat for sure. I still need to get Nancy out there as well. Plenty of stuff beyond hunting that she will enjoy too.
Nice birds!

I need to add a Rio to my "list"...

Being from the South East originally, I have chased my fair share of Easterns.. and WAY back in the day I was privileged to have a chance to go after Ocellated in Guatemala (although we never saw/heard a thing)..

Now that Im in TX, I definitely want to take some time to go after Rios and maybe do a weekend or two in New Mexico and chase Merriams..
Another note on the Rockin G, turkeys are only part of what's going on there. Erik has a high fence area where he has various exotics including sheep, Blackbuck and Scimitar Oryx to name a few. We didn't hunt in that area, but we did take a ride around within it.

In the low fence area there are lots of wild pigs. KJ took Erik's nightvision equipped AR-10 out the last evening and got a shot at one. Short shot and I doubt he missed, but unfortunately the pig was not recovered.

In addition to the creek that runs through year round providing precious water, there are at least two tanks on the ranch. The larger of which is quite sizeable with fish in them. The wind was the only thing keeping me from giving a go at some bass.

The other thing of note is the work that Erik has done on the property. It is a working cattle ranch, but there are fenced off areas to keep cattle out. I can only figure this is to provide food / cover for the wildlife. I know that Erik is working to improve the mule deer herd in his part of Texas. Texas is certainly not the first state that would come to mind for a trophy mulie at least for me. But they do exist there. With a very liberal approach to removing predators and restrictions on what mulie bucks are legal, the effort is underway. There are other variables that are out of anyone's control such as the drought that Texas has experienced. But in time, I think this will bear fruit.

The key part of this is it will take time. In the meantime, the ranch still needs to be profitable. Between the hunting ranch and taxidermy, this is how Erik makes his living. By paying for a hunt there, you are contributing to his living and this conservation effort just as you do in Africa. So if there's something Erik has to offer, please give him consideration for a hunt.
Congratulations to you, KJ and Erik. Glad you got your birds.(y)

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Because of some clients having to move their dates I have 2 prime time slots open if anyone is interested to do a hunt
5-15 May
or 5-15 June is open!
shoot me a message for a good deal!
dogcat1 wrote on skydiver386's profile.
I would be interested in it if you pass. Please send me the info on the gun shop if you do not buy it. I have the needed ammo and brass.
Francois R wrote on Lance Hopper's profile.
Hi Lance hope you well. The 10.75 x 68 did you purchase it in the end ? if so are you prepared to part with it ? rgs Francois