I like to think of myself as a planner, somebody who has his ducks in a row, gear organized and hunt calendar dialed in long before seasons get close, But sometimes things fall through the cracks and I need a backup plan. Such was the case in spring 2016 when a couple of turkey hunts went south and I had some time. So, hoping against hope that my friend Steve Rortvedt of Western Outdoors (www.westernoutdoorshunting.com) would have a couple of days open for my wife Cheryl and me, I made the call.
BAM! He did. So we loaded the truck and made the drive up historic Route 66 to McLean, Texas, and got after it.
Rortvedt is a friend that I’ve hunted off-and-on with for more than a decade, pursuing both whitetails and turkeys. A former combat medic who served in Vietnam, Rortvedt and wife Angela are solid as a rock and have a ton of great land to hunt and. Best of all, Rortvedt’s a firm believer in a game management program that allows all animals on his property — gobblers included — to grow old.
Our plan was for Cheryl to bring her trusty 12-gauge Remington Model 11-87 — OK, it used to be mine, but she sort of adopted it — and I’d bring my bow. Once she had a big gobbler down, I’d do my thing with decoys and see what happened.
Related: Top 10 Wild Turkey Hunting States
Wild Turkey Hunt No. 1: Shotgun
The northern Texas region Rortvedt hunts is blessed with lots of water, so the cover is excellent: lots of big roost trees, tall grass for nesting and plenty of food. That first morning we snuck out to a spot Rortvedt has hunted for years and set up in a small copse of oaks. As the sky began to lighten the birds started talking — everywhere! Using my binos, I saw three flocks roosted nearby while another about blew our eardrums out directly behind us. We were surrounded!
As dawn broke, the birds flew down. Rortvedt and I began doing some soft yelping and purring. The next thing you know, 100 yards straight out in the tall grass, three big red heads popped up looking for us. Cheryl had the shotgun rested on some shooting sticks, but when the birds came they took a path through the tall grass to our left. She had to lift the gun off the sticks, swivel 90 degrees and — when a big-bearded bird stuck his head up — she hammered him with a 3-inch Winchester Longbeard load of No. 6s at 40 steps. An hour into it, and she had a 20-pounder with 9½-inch beard in the bag.
Wild Turkey Hunt No. 2: Bow
After roosting a flock that night, I arrived on station well before dawn and set out Avian X laydown hen and LCD Lookout hen decoys 18 yards in front of my little ground blind. The entire flock fed 90 yards away, but the group heard my calls and along came the hens. “OK,” I thought,” now we’ll see if these decoys are attractors or terrifiers!”
Related: Hunt Wild Turkeys on a Budget
The hens came down and started pecking through the grass right next to the decoys. And then two big gobblers appeared, one was an old battler with a big chunk of his fan missing. When he climbed atop the laydown hen, I hammered him. I was shooting a Mathews Halon, Beman ICS Hunter carbon shafts fletched with NAP QuikFletch and tipped with a 100-grain NAP Gobbler Getter turkey broadhead.
That evening Rortvedt sent me to another spot. This spot was one where the birds liked to creep along a small tree-lined ditch when making their way back to a roost area. I set up far enough away from the roost hoping the birds would give me a shot with plenty of daylight left. There was zero gobbling. I had a book to help pass the time inside my blind. I’d read a paragraph or two, look up and check out the creek and decoys for a while, repeat.
About two hours into this routine, I looked and movement caught my eyes. A lone gobbler was sneaking his way along the ditch. When he saw the decoys, he puffed up like a balloon. A quick rangefinder check (30 yards), draw the bow, settle the No. 2 pin on his wing butt, release. Whap! He ran all of 5 feet before piling up.
Western Outdoors Hunting (McLean, Texas)
Talk about a great trip! We ate like royalty, enjoyed good friends and were covered up in turkeys from start to finish. And this was late in the season, a testimony to the care in which Steve Rortvedt manages his resource. “I don’t believe in overhunting,” he told us. “Who wants to come to a place where they shoot it flat just to make a few extra bucks? That isn’t good for the resource or any fun for our clients.”
Still looking for a good place to get after it this spring? Cheryl and I will be back in May. Why not join us?
Related: What Are Those Blasted Birds Saying?
- Where: McLean, Texas, approximately 80 miles East of Amarillo.
- When: April 1-May 14, 2017.
- Camp: A comfortable ranch house with all the amenities.
- Hunt Tactics: Run-and-gun hunting along field edges and among roost trees, or from a strategically located ground blind. Decoys often employed.
- Gearing Up: Full camo, including face mask and gloves. A padded seat cushion helps. Bring some bug dope.
- Weapons: Shotguns, archery tackle, crossbows all legal, and welcome.
- Hunt Cost: $1,200 for one bird, $350 for a second bird, and unlimited coyotes, all-inclusive save hunting license for two, full days of hunting and three nights in camp. Licenses available online or in Amarillo. Success rates near 100 percent.
This article was originally posted in Whitetail Journal’s 2017 special Wild Turkey issue. Grand View Outdoors readers can access the special issue here at no cost.
Photo Gallery: His and Hers Texas Spring Turkey Hunt
The author’s hunt with his wife in Texas created numerous memories the two brought home. Here are more pictures from their incredible trip: