Photo from Beth Darnell
Hunting turkeys at Cibolo Creek with a younger brother
I have two brothers. Billy, two years younger than me, lives in Tennessee. That doesn’t mean “out of sight, out of mind,” but because of distance we rarely get to see each other. My younger brother, Wayne, lives in Aransas Pass where my wife, Beth, and I have a fishing cabin. So Wayne and I often fish the bays together. He is also on our turkey lease on Cibolo Creek near Panna Maria.
Wayne had never done much turkey hunting. He wanted to hunt with me last spring but he was still living in a little trailer while trying to get his house repaired after Hurricane Harvey. So this spring, he was ready to chase the turkeys.
We camped in an open field a few hundred yards from the creek. I camped in my tear-drop camper and Wayne in his pickup. Just before dark we heard turkeys gobbling as they went to roost. We had the spot marked. We knew they were across the creek off our property but we had hopes of calling them back across into our field.
The next morning, we walked from camp in pitch dark. We wanted to be in position well before they left the roost. Wayne picked a spot about 150 yards from me. He was well-hidden in brush on the creek bank. I crawled into a big batch of thistles covered with beautiful white flowers. I was against the brush on the creek bank and, basically, invisible.
I made a few yelps on my call and got immediate answers. It sounded like there were three gobblers on the roost. I also heard hens.
When Wayne heard the gobblers he knew he should have moved to me. They were directly across the creek from me. Occasionally, I would call a little just to remind the birds where I was. As the sky began to lighten a turkey flew across the creek and landed 30 steps in front of me. Wayne saw the bird fly. I thought it was a hen until he gobbled, spread those awesome tail feathers, and went into a breeding strut. As soon as he came out of the strut I aligned my barrel on his head and pulled the trigger. Wayne watched him collapse.
Another gobbler that I had not seen was also in the field and my shot put him airborne. He flew toward Wayne and he commenced firing all three of his shots.
I walked down to Wayne’s position and he was really discouraged.
“I knew I should have moved toward you,” he said. “Those birds would have come into our field right beside me.”
“Did you hit the flying bird?” I asked.
“No, he was too far,” replied Wayne. “But I was ticked off and just shot anyway.”
I told him I would give him my turkey. That seemed to perk him up a little. We parted ways and I went far up the creek. Wayne went downriver to a big hanging corn feeder. He set up with a camo screen about 30 yards below the feeder.
I just kicked back while listening for gobbles. I only heard one bird in the distance across the creek. I felt sorry for Wayne since we had now hunted during two weeks and he had no bird. Actually, he had never called in a gobbler in his whole life.
Three shots rang out from Wayne’s direction at about 10:20 a.m. Three shots didn’t predict success. I was sure he had missed. A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Wayne.
“I got a big one!” he shouted.
“I’ll be right there,” I said.
Wayne had a tale to tell. This was his story:
“I was texting on my phone and had about given up hope. While texting, I stuck my call above my head and made a few ‘clucks.’
"Immediately, a gobbler answered. I got rid of that phone quickly. When I called again, the gobbler was much closer. Then I saw them. There were two gobblers. I called again and they kept on coming.
"Then, when they were about 50 yards away, the feeder went off. My thought was that it would frighten them away. Wrong! They both did a 50-yard sprint to the feeder and began to gulp down the corn. They had no idea I was close.
"As I lifted my shotgun, the barrel tangled in my camo screen. Movement made while removing the screen from the gun alerted the gobblers. They gave an alarm ‘put, put’ and I knew there was no longer a need to hide. They were running.
"I jumped up and dropped the big gobbler on the run. The other one went airborne but was much too far away. I shot at him anyway." (That’s why I heard three shots.)
We carried our gobblers back to camp, ate a military MRE, took pictures, cleaned the birds and headed for home.
It’s good to have one brother so close to home.