You really never know which Texas you'll get: the verdant, bluebonnet-laced land or the brown, arid moonscape. As my flight descended into San Angelo this past week, I knew immediately I was in for the latter.
No matter. It promised to be a fantastic four days of hunting with the Mossy Oak crew at LeGrand Headwaters Ranch. As soon as I ditched my civilian clothes and donned some Obsession, I joined Mossy's Dustin "Shed" Whitacre and Tim Anderson to hit the field.
After hitting a couple of spots and running some calls, we confirmed what I'd suspected before the trip. There were jakes everywhere.
Abundant moisture in late 2011 and early 2012 had created ideal nesting and brood-rearing conditions, resulting in a colossal year class of turkeys. Those jakes and jennies now dominated the landscape. Conversely, drought had all but eliminated the 2011 year class of birds, leaving that part of Texas with very few 2-year-old birds.
We didn't have any close calls the first night, but we roosted one bird we thought could be a longbeard. The next morning, we slipped close to the turkey and uttered some soft tree yelps. The turkey responded here and there, but our calling and his gobbling was soon drowned out by a din of hen yelping and jake gobbling. And when the turkeys flew down, seemingly every one headed north.
We gave chase and witnessed some dandy jake fights, but that was about it. That afternoon brought eerie silence, and we returned to camp with empty vests. Some folks had shot gobblers, however, and most of the birds were 3- and 4-year-old turkeys with dandy hooks.
"They're out there," someone said. "You just have to get on one where the jakes won't run him off."
With a day and a half left to hunt, that was my plan.