Photos: Benelli Texas Turkey Adventure
Britney Starr 04.02.14
I recently returned (reluctantly, I might add) from a three-day Rio Grande turkey hunt in Ozona, Texas with Double B Outfitters to my home in snowy Michigan. My reluctance had a little bit to do with weather, and everything to do with my experience. The Benelli Texas Turkey Adventure, as we dubbed it, consisted of a group of female outdoor writers and Benelli dealers hailing from across the country. Given the passion of the ladies present, the amazing location and the quality of the stellar guns we toted, the hunt became one I will cherish for a lifetime.
Upon arrival, while the other ladies were assigned either 20 gauge Franchi Affinity or Stoeger M3020 shotguns, I had the pleasure of receiving a left-handed, 20 gauge Benelli M2 that would remain with me for the duration of the hunt. A Burris Optics FastFire reflex sight sat atop each shotgun. The group then trekked to the outdoor range to pattern our newly-issued shotguns with Federal Premium Ammunition’s three-inch, #6 HeavyWeight turkey loads.
The Federal Ammo packed a wallop coming out of my M2 with a Rob Roberts turkey choke, as you can see from targets. The 20-yard target, left, and 30-yard, right, both show holes where the wad became lodged into the paper.
Double B Outfitters is located just south of Ozona, Texas, situated within a picturesque landscape ranging from mesas and rolling rock hills to hardwoods and dry creek beds. Double B utilizes more than 46,000 acres of well-managed land for turkey hunting and 10,000 acres for deer hunting.
Two bedrooms inside the comfortable and rustically-decorated lodge sleep four hunters apiece. Each bedroom boasts two queen-size bunk beds with plush bedding and a large en suite bathroom. It is quite the comfortable home away from home.
The first group member to bag a gobbler, Regina Steele is a sporting goods manager at Uncle Lee’s in Greenville, Kentucky. Steele, a first-time hunter, said the trip made her realize there is more to hunting than the actual killing of an animal—hunting is about enjoying nature and bonding with the members of your hunting party. Nonetheless, she had quite an exciting first hunting experience.
“My heart started beating so fast I think I could hear it, and I was breathing so hard that my shooting glasses fogged up. But, I sat still, took the 15-yard shot with my Stoeger M3020 and the bird fell to the ground,” said Regina.
Regina’s bird sported an 8.5-inch beard.
Laura Kennedy, co-owner of Canyon Sports in San Francisco, California, is shown above with a javelina she shot at 125 yards, while running-and-gunning for gobblers.
Laura has been deer and pheasant hunting before, but this trip marked her first turkey hunt. She said that she is definitely going to start making time in her busy schedule to hunt more often.
“This trip changed the way I view myself as huntress,” Laura shared. “I now have an inner strength that I feel bursting out from inside me. It has given me hope for future changes that need to occur in my own life. It was fantastic to bond with other strong women.”
Barbara Baird, publisher of Women’s Outdoor News, Realtree news blogger, and Turkey Country columnist downed this beautiful Rio with her Franchi Affinity while hunting with Cristie Gates, senior marketing manager of Benelli USA.
“We set up because we suspected that some turkeys we spotted behind us would come this direction and around us to go to water before the roost,” Baird recalled. “Instead of marching by us on a dirt trail, they flanked us, with the hens to our front and about 12 rowdy jakes and two toms to our backs. I maneuvered my 180-degree turn very carefully in a thicket of cedars and scrub, always mindful of the hens who might stop feeding and notice me. Meanwhile, the jakes and toms scuffled and kicked around in the dust, about 15 yards away. When I finally turned enough, I put my Burris sight on a tom, and when he separated enough from the others, I put the ‘pow’ on him. My guide and Cristie remained frozen in the thicket, unable to turn at all to witness the rumble.”
Barbara’s bird boasted a 10-inch beard and bloody 1.25-inch spurs from scrapping with jakes.
Kirstie Pike, founder and CEO of Próis Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, selflessly passed up two gobblers in hopes that her hunting partner Lisa Barron would be afforded a shot at what would be the first turkey of her well-established hunting career. Pike later took this tom with her Franchi Affinity.
“I was actually sitting by myself at the bottom of the hill, because we had planned for Lisa to take the first shot,” Kirstie said, “and she was on top of the hill with our guide Greg, working a couple of toms. During that time, a gorgeous tom passed me at 20 yards, and another at 30 yards, as they worked their way closer to where Lisa and Greg were sitting. I kept waiting to hear a shot come from above, but didn’t, because the turkeys never pass within shooting range of Lisa. Then, another tom worked right in toward me, passing only eight yards away from me. I decided that passing on three toms was more than I could bear!”
Kirstie’s bird had a seven-inch beard.
After three days of chasing turkeys up and down rock-covered mountains from sunup to sundown, I had one last shot—a “hell run,” as Cristie described it. I was hunting right up until the 9:30 a.m. departure for the airport on day four.
From sunup to 9:00 a.m., my guide Jay Harman, hunting partner Natalie Foster, and I tried to sweet talk a group of gobblers into our setup. As time ran out, we realized they weren’t going to be enticed. With the sun in the birds’ eyes, I belly crawled roughly 200 yards to close the distance as much as possible, with Jay and Natalie watching from afar. As time ticked off the clock, a jake stretched his neck up, looking at what I later found out was Jay using the black-colored underside of his seat cushion as an impromptu turkey fan, giving me a clear shot between a small opening of brush. My Benelli M2 dropped him with one shot, from roughly 45 yards away. It was truly a “last-minute gobbler.”
My jake measured in with a five-inch beard, and the feeling of accomplishment after such a hard hunt makes shooting this bird one of my proudest hunting moments.
The “Sisters of the Spur” pose for a group picture before departing to the airport.
Back row: Natalie Foster, Kirstie Pike, Laura Kennedy, Regina Steele, and Cristie Gates. Front row: Barbara Baird, Lisa Barron, and Britney Starr with the “last-minute gobbler.”
You can view more photos posted by the group on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching the hashtag #BenelliTexasTurkeyAdventure.
Visit Benelli USA for more information on their quality turkey hunting shotguns.