Our 2014 spring turkey season turned out to be one heck of a year. Despite the super-dry range conditions, the gobbler and hens seemed to be in an active breeding mode until the very final hunt when all agreed that the deal was already over. Most times, the toms responded well to the hunter's calls.
But it was a different kind of year. Here's why:
Like most of the rest of the nation, West Texas put up with unusually cold weather which lingered well into April. Hunters suffered a 24 degree sunrise one morning.
Even back at the beginning of the season, the birds seemed to be acting uncharacteristically. Their spring rituals and habits seemed to be coming earlier than normal, despite the lingering cold weather.
In early April, all the birds had already moved away from their traditional locations - something they don't normally do until the end of the month.
Most every one of the gobblers taken was a two-year old.
There were zero three-year-olds due to the complete lack of a hatch back in 2011.
There was a smattering of four-year-olds, easily distinguished by their extra-long spurs. We tabulated their numbers at about 9% of the total number of gobblers taken.
A few jakes were seen, but not many. No jakes were taken during the harvest.
It should be noted that before the spring turkey season got underway, the Mustang Ranch Camp which has been a part of the Adobe Lodge group since 2004, elected to go its own way. Our parting was amicable. Ben McCulloch, a life-long friend, and his super team did an outstanding job with their hunters, but no hunt reports or photos were furnished by them.
So the statistics above reflect only the gobblers taken at the Home Camp and the McManus Ranch.
But counting the 15 hunters sent to the Mustang Ranch booked by Adobe Lodge, 45% of our spring turkey hunters in 2014 at all three camps were repeat clients. Turkey folks, being gypsies at heart and often in quest of the fabled "Grand Slam" of the four species in America, don't return at the same level as do our deer hunters.
Counting only the toms taken at the two camps (Home, McManus), here are the numbers:
52 hunters collected a total of 78 longbeards.
32 of them tagged-out with two birds/each.
14 hunters took home only one gobbler. Several declared that one was enough.
Only six hunters failed to take a bird.
We tabulated nine missed shots that, had they been successful, would have changed the numbers above.
9 of the 78 toms had beards that reached 10 inches or better.
7 of the gobblers had spurs which measured 1 1/4 inches or more.
No doubt, the extra-dry spring affected the weight of the toms. Even so, 22% of them reached the 20 lb. mark.
Below are photos of the best birds of the season at both camps.