I am blessed to travel to Texas each year to hunt turkeys with my family and friends. Part of the reason for going is the wonderful friendships forged over the years with the many landowners in Texas we have hunted with. I have seen hundreds of turkeys in some regions over the years, and watch drought conditions take turkey numbers down to moderate or low numbers in other years for the Texas Rio Grande bird.
This year my 86-year-old father was fortunate enough to take two Jakes in Brady, TX with one shot in mid-April. This old football Coach was pretty proud of that accomplishment, and his son was glad to share that day with him. Our second 3-day turkey hunt to Crowell, TX in early May was filled with daily rain, periodic high winds one day, a hail storm, and even some local tornados. Our guest Coach “Skip” Holtz, head football coach for LA Tech University, took his first Rio Grande gobbler within 30 minutes of our hunt beginning, so some of the pressure was off for our guest.
After that quick harvest, we heard only sporadic gobbling during the day and at early morning fly down time. Nothing like we have usually experienced hunting over the last 15 years in TX. What was clearly evident was the range conditions of this usually arid west Texas landscape. This spring, because of abundant rainfall, the landscape was very lush, green, with vegetation knee high on all the habitat. Quail were whistling everywhere, and it was not uncommon, traveling over the property, to see single and paired quail jumping up as we drove or walked through property. Mourning Doves were prevalent all over the property, and white-tailed deer were in great physical condition going into the fawning season.
Although three turkey hunters wished hunting weather conditions would have been a little more favorable during our hunt trip, what I feel is setting up on much of the Texas landscape because of the abundant rainfall this winter and spring is a great spring summer hatch for ground nesting birds like the turkey and quail. A little rain goes a long way in Texas to see range conditions, wild flowers, and brood habitat for the future production of these two game birds. Although the number of turkeys harvested was less than we had hoped, I am very optimistic as a wildlife biologist of the “More” expected next year.
Luke D. Lewis, CWB
NWTF Regional Biologist