First Turkey Hunt, for both of Us
By Donnie Rodriguez

Jan. 2004

January 25th, 2004, Tammy (my wife) and I were at our archery club’s banquet. As the event was winding down one of our friends,
Brandon offered to hold a drawing to hunt wild turkey on his ranch in Menard Co., Texas.

Tammy and I both have wanted to add a turkey to the list of game animals we want to harvest together as a team.

We put in our ten-dollars  and entered our names for the drawing. Our archery club kids were called to draw the tickets
out of the plastic container.  Names were called one by one. About half way through the drawing Tammy had her name
called. Yeah! She is going on her first turkey hunt. Then the next ticket came out and my name was called. Wow, we
both are going! We were pretty excited and couldn’t wait until the weekend of April 16th. This was going to be our first
turkey hunt ever!

We kept watching the calendar and counting down the days…by Easter weekend our hunt was right around the corner.

Thursday (April 15th) we packed up our gear, after work, and were headed to Brandon’s ranch. We arrived at the ranch
house by 10p.m., unloaded our things and joined our other friends, Roy “Ol Man”, Steve “Flinger”, Hunter (Steve’s son),
Dan “Hogkiller”, David “Bowwiz” and Missy, around the campfire.

Around 1A.M., the few of us that decided to stay up late decided to turn in.

Friday morning the alarm sounded at 5:30.  Tammy and I got up to shower before going out to the stand. The weather
was very nice but windy. After donning on out hunting cloths and gathering out equipment we headed to our ground blind.

We settled in and began to watch as dawn awoke the sleeping animals. The Toms were gobbling before sunrise and we
couldn’t wait until out first encounter with “Ole Tom.” We could hear the turkeys gobbling behind us 50 yards.  I tried to coax
a turkey to come closer, but the wind was not doing anything to help us.  The wind was blowing at our backs and I don’t
see how they could hear our calls.

We sat until 9:30 that morning but we never saw a turkey come into our area so we headed back to the ranch house. 
An hour later we headed back out to make a repair to the feeder. As we topped the hill and looking in the food plot,
where our stand was located next to, we could see a hen. Of course she saw us and took off. We fixed the feeder and
cruised over to other feeders around the ranch to make sure they were all working and fill turkey feeders.

We went to Brandon’s blind and we ran off 5 good Gobbles. We filled the feeders and left.

We went back to the ranch house, had lunch, and decided to take a nap. But first we needed to have a photo session.
“Ol Man” and his son “Flinger” had connected. Two birds down, both were about 20 pounds and “Ol Man’s” bird had a
9-3/4” beard. “Flingers” Tom had a 10” beard.

An hour or so later everyone begins getting ready to head back out.  Tammy and I sat until sunset. Nothing, again! No
birds but plenty of gobbling all around us.

Tammy and I were a little discouraged. I figured this was going to be a good spot because, during the winter I sat there
and saw over 30 birds under the feeder. However, nothing was coming in now.

We left empty handed again. We got back to camp and our story didn’t change. “Ol Man” pulled me aside and offered us
his blind for the Saturday evening hunt, if we didn’t get anything the next morning.

Saturday morning came and went with the same results…NOTHING!

We left by 8:30am and in no time we were at camp. We were assisting in cooking breakfast when others began coming
in from their morning hunts. Everyone got skunked. The gale force winds we were having had grounded our birds.

After breakfast we milled around. We headed to “Ol Man’s” blind and two gobbles ran off. We settled in and sat from
11am until the heat was unbearable and left around 2pm. 

We didn’t see anything after the two Toms ran off so we headed to camp.

As we approached camp we saw that some of the hunters were fishing at the creek. We parked our truck and walked
down to see if anyone was catching anything. They were skunked and we didn’t feel so bad.

A couple of hours later we were off to hunt again. We eased up to “Ol Man’s” stand and after Tammy had a fight with
a cactus, we settled into the stand.

I helped my lovely wife pick the embedded cactus thorns out of her backside (talk about a Kodak moment) and as we
finished a hen walks up to the feeder 12 yards away.

Tammy is up to shoot first. She is waiting for a gobbler. 15 minutes later the hen leaves but is replaced by a bearded hen.
She looks and asked me, “Should I shoot it?” I quickly tell her that is up to you. But I’m thinking I don’t want to get blamed
for anything if you shoot the hen and gobblers exploded from the brush behind us.

Tammy holds out. She turns and looks to the right and blurts out,
“Oh MY GOD!” I look out one of the windows of the ground blind
and see a red head bobbing, behind some small brush that runs
along the fence. The Gobbler looks huge, but I can’t see anything
else. As he clears the bushes I can see he has a 12” to 13” beard.
He is an old Tom and wanting to be on our side of the fence.
The old Tom just paces the fence. Two other Toms come out
and both fly over the fence and begin eating grain we poured out.
Ol Tom keeps pacing back and forth. He finds a hole in the fence
but he is big that he can’t get through it.

 After about 10 minutes Tammy decides that she will shoot one
of the other gobblers, on our side of the fence that is feeding
less than 10 yards away. He gives her an opportunity to take
a shot. I steady the video camera on the Tom. As I videoed I
could see the turkey turn.

I then heard Tammy draw her Renegade Alpha-1 bow. She steadied the Copper John Sight pin on the bird’s chest. She
pulls her trigger on her Tru-Fire release and sends her Beman 400 carbon arrow that is tipped with a 90-grain Muzzy 4-bladed
broadhead and grasshopper sailing!

Frame 1: Arrow is released and is visible                       Frame 2: Arrow is flexing during flight

Frame 3: Arrow is almost there                         Frame 4: Arrow penetrates and Lumenok is lit.

The turkey is hit just under the wind bone and feathers fly everywhere.

The Tom jumps and flaps his wings. I kept rolling video for a couple of seconds more and stop.

I stopped filming and bailed out of the stand. The Tom is in flight and I loose him going over the mesquite trees.
I run but he is gone!

We look for a few minutes and then review the video. Other than the wind not being broken it was a good hit.

Tammy was a very upset and heart broken since she lost her first ever turkey.   

We get back in the blind and I tell her to get her stuff ready. I wanted her to get one before me!

But Tammy tells me to get my bow and stands up. I wanted her to get hers first but I wasn’t going to say no to the offer.

In a short time I was in position. The turkeys start towards the fence but hang up 40 yards away.

We tried to call but they were not coming any closer.

I looked out of the window to my left and saw three gobblers walking to the turkey feeder. I picked a good one and positioned
myself in a good kneeling shot. 

Tammy gets the video camera ready and begins filming. One of the turkeys moves from left to right and sticks his
head in the barrel to pick up some grain. I thought when he does that again I will shoot.  Now’s the time Tom is
stretched and he is broadside.
I draw my Renegade “NugeBow”, steadied my Copper John Sight pin on the left wing which covered his chest.
I open my fingers and release the string; sending my Easton XX78 2315 shaft tipped with a 100 gr. Muzzy 4-bladed
broadhead and grasshopper towards the long beard.

Frame 1: Off the string                            Frame 2: In flight                                      Frame 3: Almost there

Frame 4: Just before impact                        Frame 5: Impact                            Frame 6: Penetrates breaking
                                                                                                                                        the wing bone.


        Frame 7: He falls                                    Frame 8: Nothing but the 12 ring.


Thwack! Feathers fly everywhere…a repeat of just what happened 20 minutes ago.

My bird jumps straight up and when he hits the ground he doesn’t move anything but his
head. Then all of a sudden the two other Toms that were with him start attacking him.
I thought he might run off trying to avoid his attackers and started after him. As I
unzipped the blind the two other birds take off. I retrieve my bird.


I told Tammy we should stay and see if they will come back, but she was ready to
leave the blind and continue looking for her bird.


We loaded up our gear and headed to camp to try and find some extra eyes
 to look for the turkey Tammy shot. After getting to camp we showed “Flinger” the
 tape and he agree it was a good hit. We hurried out before dark to look more for
Tammy’s Gobbler. We looked for 30 minutes more but still nothing. After Tammy
 almost stepped on a 6’+ rattle snake we called off the search.


We headed off and began taking some pictures of my bird along with the bird “Flinger” shot.

After the photo shoot we were ready for the mudbug (crawfish) boil and campfire chat.

Sunday morning was uneventful and by 9:00 A.M. we ended the hunt, clean up and head home to our boys.





Donnie's Gear:

Renegade NugeBow 63# and 29" draw
Easton XX78 2315 aluminum arrows
Muzzy 100 gr. 4 bladed broadhead &
Muzzy Grasshopper
Copper John "Dead Nuts" Sights

Tammy's Gear:

Renegade Alpha-1 43# and 27" draw
Beman ICS Hunter 400 carbon arrows
Muzzy 90 gr. 4 bladed broadhead &
Muzzy Grasshopper
Copper John "Dead Nuts" Sights
Tru-Fire Release