Got back from Kansas last Friday after another great trip. Great weather, lots of birds, a few morels. Three of us ended up with six birds in two days of hunting. Sorry if this gets a little long.
My buddy Bob scored the first morning on a nice tom. I had a hen come into my setup, but the toms were henned up and not real responsive to calls. Steve had a couple of close calls but didn't connect.
The second morning, I sat with Bob in his DB blind as he wanted to get one with his bow. Right at fly down, a tom landed about 60 yards from our setup and stood there for several minutes. Some hens called nearby and he went into strut. We both said at the same time, "That's a Rio!" He had cream tips and lighter color on his rump. He strutted in to 15 yards to our decoys and Bob let 'er fly. I had the bird in my sights in case he missed, but the shot sounded good and we could see the arrow hanging out as he flew off. He landed about 200 yds away and walked slowly into the edge of a narrow wooded strip, then disappeared.
Since it was only 6:20, we sat tight and hoped for more action. A noisy hen came out in the field with four jakes in tow, but they stayed just out of range. Finally about 8:30, Bob couldn't take it any more so we went to find his bird.
We found blood and a couple of small pieces of meat where he shot him and then found the blood-soaked arrow about 20 yds from where the bird entered the woods. At the edge of the woods was a puddle of blood and with some looking, we found blood on the grass and trailed it along the edge of a gully.
About that time, Bob jumped the bird and we watched him fly off about 30 yds and disappear into the timber. There was another puddle of blood where the bird had been sitting, so we couldn't believe he was still going. After more searching we picked up the blood trail again and followed it about another 75 yds when Bob jumped him again. This time, we could see intestines hanging as he flew a short distance, then walked up a slope and bedded under a cedar. As I approached him, his head came up and I ended the chase.
After a photo session, we drove to a field where Steve had seen a strutter with nine hens the day before. We saw birds in the field so we backed up and I got in a creek bed that follows the edge of the field. I could see hens but couldn't find the tom, so I kept sneaking along the creek.
Finally, I caught just the edge of a fan through the trees and started to ease up out of the creek to the timbered edge of the field. With extra eyes in the field, I had to move slow and by the time I got to the field edge, the birds had moved down a ways. I knew it was a long shot, but had a rest and waited until he stuck his head up when I clucked. He dropped like a rock and I ran to get him. It was 11:15. I paced it off back to the tree I'd used as a rest and it was just under 65 yds. Luck and tight choke were on my side. He weighed 22-12, had a 10-inch beard, and 7/8" hooks that were the sharpest I've ever seen. Here he is:
Here's my bird and Bob's Rio:
Steve and I decided to try a dusting spot near where Bob and I finally found his Rio. We headed there for an evening hunt and Bob came along to video and we'd not even gotten quite set up when I saw two toms working our way. We let them come down a trail into the clearing. When the second bird came into the open, I cued Steve and we both shot. Steve was a split second ahead of me, so I didn't hit my bird as solid, but he didn't go far. That double filled our tags and we headed back for some celebrating. Don't have a photo yet of the double but will post it here when I have it. Bob got it on tape, but had dropped down and had to try to work around hunters and gun barrels to get it. Still cool though.