Snoozing on the plane with visions of strutting toms in my head … with a touchdown in San Antonio, Texas. That meant it was time to grab the bags, rent the car, find my fellow hunters and make the 2-hour drive to Chaparossa Ranch, where we would hunt Rio Grande wild turkeys for the next few days. After taking a bearded hen last year in Texas, I am back for the real beard, the one worn by Mr. Tom (not by his beard-wearing lady friend).
All settled in and well fed by the camp chef, it came time to discuss our plans for the first day of the hunt and then, head to bed. The guides assigned us a hunting partner. Ben Cole and I were to kick the hunt off together. Ben is a self-admitted talker and while I enjoy chatting with him, I had to warn him I am not a morning person; let’s keep the chit chat to a minimum. In fact, the only words I should hear are these: “Jess, there is a tom,” or maybe, “Jess, I like those Danner hunting boots you are sporting.” I know, that is mean, but it is early and I haven’t had my nice juice yet (Starbucks), so give me a break.
Gobble, gobble, gobble. The birds are waking up and should be coming off the roost soon. They flew down and headed our way within a few minutes – even though it seemed like at least an hour. The whole family rolled in, including several toms, a pile of hens and a few Jakes – it was amazing! The toms went into full-strut mode – chests out and feathers fanned – but, unfortunately, they wove in and out of the brush so we couldn’t line up a good shot.
I am still a kid at heart, keeps me young. Climbing trees in my Danner High Ground hunting boots.
After enjoying a great lunch, climbing trees and spending time on the range, we were ready to head back out again; however, this time we planned to spot-and-stalk. Sitting in a blind has its advantages. The blind is much more forgiving when you are horrible at sitting still (like I am), but I prefer to take the challenge and work for the bird.
Ben is up first, I would follow behind and hoped to have the opportunity to film his shot.
The stalk starts.
We spotted a gobbler headed into some brush, so we quickly set up and Ben began calling. Yelp, gobble, yelp, gobble, back and forth they went … Ben bringing the tom closer. Unfortunately, due to the thickness of the brush and uneven terrain, we could no longer see the tom. We quickly looked around for an opening in the brush that would allow us to get closer. Heading toward the gobbler, Ben forgot we were in rattlesnake country and started crawling through a narrow opening in the brush to get closer. I hesitated to walk through this area, much less crawl, but being the dedicated videographer for this outing, I decided to follow him, probably not one of the smartest ideas. I thought, “I am wearing thin clothing, Danner boots and snake chaps, but I need a snake suit (if that is even a thing). These Danner High Ground hunting boots were designed for high-speed hunters, let’s see how they do with low-speed crawling.”
After crawling and calling for a while, the tom got away. On a positive note, no snake bites and the athletic design of the Danners kept me comfortable on the crawl in and the walk out. The leather and 900 Denier polyester upper is extremely durable on the Danners and protected my lower legs and feet from thorn pricks.
3 birds down and 3 to go
Three of our hunters bagged their turkeys and moved on to hunt javelina, while the remainder of us headed back out after gobblers. Due to the split of guides and hunters, I found myself hunting alone. While I prefer to spot-and-stalk versus sitting in a blind, I am choosing the blind today. The area seems to have a lot of rattlers and I have no cell service, so rather than take my chances, I decided to stay put. I know that might seem a little wimpy, but I am not used to navigating around rattlesnake-infested brush.
The sun is coming up, the toms are gobbling steadily and my excitement is increasing while my patience is decreasing. They are off the roost and making their way down my area. They are in full strut, a beautiful and entertaining act to witness. I always giggle a little to myself watching them strut, as it is more like prancing and gliding while sticking their butts and chests out for the ladies. I have 4 toms at about 30 to 35 yards in front of me, my 870 DM Predator Turkey is steady on the shooting sticks and I am ready to take my shot when suddenly WHOOSH! CRASH! #(*%Y$E! My chair breaks … leaving me sitting on the ground. I slowly ease up hoping I didn’t startle the turkeys. I glance out, shockingly they are still there but looking around, and a little confused. I quietly switch chairs, set up again and FINALLY take my shot – Mr. Tom is down! No bearded hen this time! I am filled with excitement, but still in shock from my chair breaking. I’m thinking, maybe it is time to scale back the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos.
Danner High Ground Hunting Boots and the real beard!
Often, I feel like hunting boots make my feet look like boats, but check out the slender look of the Danner High Ground Boots. Danner designed this boot with a narrower heel and a lower volume fore and mid-foot specifically to fit the shape of a woman’s foot – keeping them slender in appearance. A Gore-Tex liner ensures that no water gets in, while allowing sweat and moisture to get out. I especially appreciated this feature while stalking and crawling in the warm TX weather. I am sure I was sweating more than normal as I crawled through the brush, anticipating a rattlesnake to pop up any moment, but the Danner boots kept my feet cool. Danner boots are true to size, but if you are concerned about fit when ordering your boots, you can click “Do you need size advice?” and then, complete the questionnaire and Danner will recommend the appropriate size and width for you based on your responses.
I give an A+ to Danner across the board for “Fit, Function and Fashion.”