Knowledge of Rio Grande turkey behavior is more important than one’s calling ability.
Story and Photography by Bob Zaiglin
Working my way through the thorn scrub paralleling a small artesian-fed creek in the ink-black predawn hours, I paused occasionally to listen for the sound of turkeys that often roosted in the live oak trees on both sides of the shallow stream. Suddenly a characteristically loud, almost abrasive (‘who cooks for you’) hoot of a barred owl interrupted the silence, firing up several gobblers in the nearby trees as they erupted into a series of thunderous gobbles shattering the quiescent morning. Rapidly maneuvering as stealthily as possible towards the birds, I came upon a sandy clearing surrounded by sacahuista and got situated in the knee-high grass within view of the opening where the toms would gravitate and drum displaying their attributes to hopefully a willing hen.
Once situated, I removed several aged yet proven Lynch foolproof box calls from my vest, placing each at my side. As ambiguous predawn configurations began to take shape as a cacophony of bird songs filled the refreshingly cool spring air.
A white-eyed vireo the size of a silver dollar dangled precariously from a low-lying limb of a nearby oak while a brilliant, blood-red vermillion flycatcher perched on the branch above awaiting its prey. From the very top of a nearby mesquite, Texas’ state bird, a mockingbird, blurred out its characteristic four-noted call.