So there I was … in Texas, in the middle of the woods, in the dark. A thunder of gobbles erupted as the Polaris ATV pulled away, having dropped off Jens Krogh, Franchi product manager, and me at our hunting spot. We stood at a crossroads where two trails came together, and listened for more gobbling. More gobbling happened — everywhere. I shivered with excitement as we quickly got ourselves situated along the edge of the woods, beside the trail, and in line with a large feeder.
This was my first turkey hunt of the 2013 season. Benelli USA invited me to Sarco Creek Ranch in Goliad, Texas, with a group of writers. Armed with Franchi Affinity 20-gauge, semi-auto shotguns, one Uberti High-Wall .45-70 rifle and Federal Premium ammo for both, Jens and I were hoping not only to harvest turkey, but also hogs.
An avid upland hunter and sporting clay shooter, I am familiar with the Franchi products. In fact, last January, Brian Koch of Ultimate Upland, and I had a (not so) friendly sporting clay competition at Nellis Air Force Base with Franchi Instinct over and under shotguns called “The Bird Hunter Battle of the Sexes.” I was excited to try out one of Franchi’s new Affinity semi-auto shotguns and was also intrigued by the Uberti High-Wall, as I had not shot a rifle similar to that before now.
I nestled up to a tree as the sun began slowly break the horizon. Every so often, Jens scratched out a couple of light yelps on his call, which elicited gobbles from turkeys on the roost. I noticed a hog cutting through the trees to our left. Just then, the feeder we were sitting in front of went off, which nearly made me jump out of my skin.
I desperately wanted to put a bead on a gobbler during this trip, and Jens sat to my left with the rifle, so I wasn’t overly concerned with the hog. A few more minutes went by, and I realized that the earlier roosted gobblers had flown down and were heading in every direction, except for ours. Jens looked over at me and asked if I wanted to shoot the hog, I told him to go ahead. He dropped the hog at 100 yards. Celebrating quietly, we high-fived, snapped a quick picture, admired the hogs cutters, enjoyed a celebratory Gatorade and headed off down the trail to “run and gun” for turkeys.
We spent most of the time walking around the property, calling, listening for gobbles and chatting quietly. We thought about a “team name” for the two of us, but couldn’t quite come up with anything catchy. We met Mr. Milton Greeson at our prearranged pick-up point at noon, and when he arrived in the Polaris we showed him the pig that Jens shot. “Is that a big one, Milton?” I asked. He sized it up and replied, “It’s a pretty medium-sized pig.” Jens and I looked at each other and he shouted, “Team Medium-Sized Pig!”
After lunch at the ranch, we arrived at our second hunting area and spotted a nice tom right away. The turkey, relatively undisturbed by the Polaris, walked out of the area. Once again, Team Medium-Sized Pig devised a plan, and nestled in to the tree line near the feeder. We wanted to see if we could call that tom back in. This time, we each possessed a shotgun and a rifle. After a short sit, and with a little bit of calling, we spotted the gobbler walking through the woods to our right. He skirted around behind us, and then, “poof” he was gone.
After a few more minutes, I started to get antsy from sitting. I looked over at Jens and whispered, “I’m bored.” He made a motion in front of us and whispered, “Hogs.” A group of more than fifteen pigs ambled directly towards us, looking for their last supper from the feeder nearby. I could hear them snorting and carrying on as they moved closer. I slowly raised my rifle and aimed at a hog that was facing me. I squeezed off my single shot, and hit the hog. Jens opened fire with his Uberti 1873 Lever Action rifle, ringing off seven or so shots in true cowboy style. Team Medium-Sized Pig struck again and I was ecstatic to have harvested my first hog!
Shooting the Uberti High-Wall .45-70 was a new and exciting experience for me. Once I learned how to use the horseshoe style sites, it was easy to get my shot off quickly. I felt very Annie Oakley-ish using this rifle!
I went out for turkey and came home with bacon, on the first day of our hunt. You know what they say — sometimes life is like a box of chocolates …
[Editors note: I also harvested a beautiful Rio turkey with the Franchi Affinity 20-gauge, while on this trip. More to come on that hunt in the future.]