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The 4x4 Grand Slammer of 2004
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My Search For The Rio Grande

OPENING DAY 2004 - Never been one quite like it !!!
My Double Bull blind was already in place on the dam (where I got my Grand Slam Rio last year). It was fogged over big time and daylight came without a sound. I called with no response and waited an hour, listening for a gobble. Suddenly I noticed something standing on the dam looking at my Montana Decoy strutting tom. It was big bird, but it was not a turkey. A crane or blue heron, I guess. Four foot tall and thin. It turned and stood broadside to my decoy. I took the birds picture.

Incredibly, it stood stone still for 20 minutes. Here's a close up. It occurred to me that it might be watching something across the pond. It was.

Six gobblers were following a lone hen. I took two pictures of them. Pic #1 is from a distance and Pic #2 is zoomed in closer and the hen is in the pic. I called but they wouldn't leave the real hen. They walked out of sight. Around 7:30 the first gobble filled the air. I cut and yelped and I saw the Tom 300 yards away running in my direction along the fence line on the far side of the pond. He looked good to go and I got ready. But I never saw him again. Afterwards I pulled gobbler after gobbler into the area across the pond. They stood at a distance and checked it out but none came up on the dam. At 10:00 I gave it up and drove to  the Red Barn and ate a 5 egg ham & cheese omelet. Calling turkeys makes me hungry.

Rio Bound ...
April 24: I flew home after my Osceola hunt in Florida. 
.
The day after my last osceola hunt with Ken Mayes I flew back home.  One of the flights was a 9 seater plane. Couldn't stand up in the plane. The ride was kinda bumpy too.

Digging In For The Long Haul
April 25: That afternoon I hunted at the dam in my Double Bull blind. The dam overlooks a stock pond. Normally the water is low but due to the rain we've been having lately it is full. Here's the view

April 26: Morning at the dam and lots of gobbles. I called and waited. I spotted a hen on the edge of the pond, it wasn't long before gobblers showed up. Gobbler pic #, and gobblers #2. There were 5 gobblers and one hen. They flew across the pond and walked into the woods on the other side. Here is a pic of one of the gobblers.
That afternoon I hunted at the Point in a Double Bull blind I left set up after deer season. I had several gobblers around but had never ending interference from cows

Eureca! A Travel Route
April 27: I started the day at the dam again. Two gobblers sounded off before daylight, they were less than 100 yards from me. As the light came on a hen yelped loudly in the meadow below the dam. The gobblers picked her over me.
At 7:40am I drove to the Point. I was putting the decoys out when I heard multiple loud gobbles. I jammed a call in my mouth, started cutting and jumped into the blind and zipped it up.
Three Toms appeared in the trees and they were coming my way. 
They stopped 40 yards away. I cut and yelped. They gobbled like crazy. And we went back and forth for 20 minutes.
But they would not come closer.
They left through the gate that separates the Point from the Back 200. The blind is inside the woods line, that's fine for deer but it didn't work out for wild turkeys today.
That afternoon: I couldn't hunt this afternoon.

The White Head Gobbler
April 28: I called at the dam. Lots of gobbles but nothing came up on the dam. So I zipped over to the Point at 7:00 so I would be ahead of the gobblers. The 3 gobblers came through in the trees, busy fanning and romancing a hen. Here is a pic and one more. The strutting, etc. took quite a while and when the trio moved on they went through a wide hole in the fence 65 yards from the gate. Half an hour passed.
Look at this! A striking white headed gobbler was at full strut in the open, admiring my Montana decoy. About 20 yards out of range.
I waited silently. The White Head gobbler continued to show off but still kept its distance. I called, soft at first. When that didn't move him I tried it loud. He strutted some more.
When he left White Head walked over to the fence and right through the gate. 
Here are 5 Pics of White Head doing his strutting thing...

That afternoon I moved the blind 65 yards down the fence, to where the 3 gobblers came through this morning. The 3 gobblers came through all right -- they walked right down the farm road and through the gate at the Point!.

The White Head ... Again
April 29: Again, the dam and to my blind 65 yards from the Point. I saw a gobbler in the trees. I called and he went nuts gobbling back over and over. A second gobble joined in. One of them came out of the trees (the Gobbler's Pic).
A minute later the 2nd gobbler walked out, it was the White Head. The other gobbler joined White Head and they gobbled and strolled toward the fence .. 50 yards further down.
That afternoon I hunted the windmill area with the Duck. We heard some distant gobbles but no sightings. Then I drove to Wulff Cedar Creek for a 2 day hunt.

Back to Wulff Cedar Creek Ranch
May 1, Saturday: Wind and Rain ... and Wind! Lo 40's, hard rain and heavy winds at 4:45am -- I got up anyway and set my Double Bull blind up in the rain. At "go to roost time" I had 3 hens walk right in front of my blind. The rain finally quit but the high winds hung in there all day long. Tomorrow is predicted to be clear with a 6 mph wind. That'll work.
Note: Tuesday Tony and I leave to bowhunt Easterns in Illinois and I don't have a Rio yet. So I'm hoping Wulff Cedar Creek can change my Rio luck this weekend.
May 2, Sunday: Bad Weather Conditions Continue - I lugged my Double Bull blind after gobbles after daylingt. I saw glimpses of several but they would not come to my calls. The weatherman lied about today, big time. High winds were unrelenting. It is a good thing you can stake the Double Bull blind down, otherwise I'd of had to walk 10 miles to get it. After dark I loaded up and drove home. The weather got me on this hunt. The first hunt here was super but nasty, cold, windy weather got me on this hunt

Moving Around At The Point
May 03: Straight to the Point today and my Double Bull blind 65 yards down the fence. The 3 gobblers came gobbling and walking through again. They crossed the fence at the gate by the point. (I was sleepy this morning and forgot to bring my camera.)
Afternoon:  Gobble. A couple hundred yards away. I answered and soon a Tom came up. He was just shy of shooting situation. (close up pic.) He never gobbled, he looked my decoys over for 10 minutes and decided to go back where he came.
One of the pics of this gobbler strikes me as a good Find The Gobbler pic. So I made it into wallpaper sizes for you to see if you can locate the bird. (Find The Gobbler Wallpaper: 1024x800, 800x600 or 640x480).
It's time to move the blind.

Missed The Point
May 04, Tuesday: Before daylight I moved my Double Bull blind up at the Point -- set it right by the gate. One hen walked through at 10:22, it got close too. I left at noon and returned at 3:00 this afternoon. I saw the same hen twice more.

Everybody Gets The Blues Now and Then
May 05, Wednesday: I moved the Point stand under the trees, right on the broken down fence that runs along the farm road. I saw a hen several times and heard gobbles and the gobbler trio and two other solo Toms came through, out of sight in the trees 150 yards down the fence.

I hate to admit this ... but it happened. Late in the afternoon, a feeling of utter hopelessness swept over me. I mean it consumed me.
I've been hunting very hard and, at that moment, I felt beat up by it.
I looked at my watch, 7:58pm.
To hopefully change my morose mood I thought that if I did something constructive I might feel better. My Turkey Vest needed fixing, so I took everything out of it and made two piles, one for what I needed, and the other for broken things, etc.. 
One of my slates was broken, the glass had come unglued and it rattled. I dropped it on the "No" pile. 
Clank.
Something caught my eye. 
A bomber longbeard was 10 yards away !!!
And getting on the move. Its beard was nearly to it's feet as it fled into the trees.
I looked at my watch ... 8:03.
For 5 minutes I let my guard down, dropped my vigil, and missed a chance at a huge longbeard.
You're gonna think I'm nuts but I held my camera out at arm's length and took my picture. 
Looking at the pic was painful. But it helped me. I looked stunned, unbelieving, disappointed. 
After looking at it a while I felt better. 
There's still life in this turkey hunter and 4 days are left of the season. I'm not whipped, and I am not gonna be either. Here is my picture

May 6, Morning & Afternoon

A nice morning with a full moon above the tree. (Pic of early morning sky.) I set my Double Bull blind up 400 yards down the fence that is across from the Dam. 
In 10 minutes I saw a hen under 10 yards. 
Apparently I am on some turkey route because I saw hens 7 times during the day. No gobblers. In the morning I'll give it another try.
First Buck With Antlers: One thing very cool happened, I saw and got a pic of the first buck I've seen with visible antlers this year. First Buck With Antlers.

May 7 - Morning: This morning was no good for gobblers. However I had visitors and they gave me some swell photo opportunities. After the Grand Slam is over I'll put together a photo gallery of the deer I saw.
They paid no attention to my Double Bull blind and they got real close. 
After taking the deer photos I felt very calm, centered if you will. 
Heck, I'm just hunting. I love hunting.
I pulled the blind and took it back to the Point.
Afternoon: This afternoon I'm changing tactics.
No calling until I see something. And then only the slate -- light yelps and purrs, just a few. Then shut-up. And wait.
6:06pm Man, I'm excited. My plan worked. To The Hunt...
 I set out 3 hen decoys at the point, near the my watering spot. It seems to that the gobbler decoys have played out during this late stage of gobbler hood.
I put the Double Bull by a tree across the road, I am looking down the road at the gate 26 yards away. 
An hour before roost time I saw 2 gobblers in the first group of trees past the fence (80 yards). I zoomed in and took a close up pic too.
They could not see the decoys from there. 
I used my Knight & Hale "Glass Queen" striker call and made a few soft clucks, purred briefly, and yelped 4 times. And shut up!
The 2 gobblers moved to the fence, 30 yards from the gate. A 3rd gobbler also walked to the fence 15 yards from the gate.
The 2 gobblers backed up a little and walked toward the road, I took their picture through the gate. The 3rd gobbler decided to bring it to my decoys. The other two fell in behind.
As the lead gobbler cleared the gate I drew. He was walking slowly, in my direction. My camera was already on the ground and I put my pin between his legs and raised it straight up to his chest. 
My arrow knocked the Tom down. He quickly scrambled to his feet and did the one thing that every bowhunter fears, he flew. He barely cleared some low trees and suddenly fell from the sky.
(Just because I did this a couple of days ago, I took my pic after I shot the gobbler.)

My Rio Grande, this makes #3 in my part of the 4x4 Grand Slammer.

Doug Crabtree Adds A Rio
Doug drove to Throckmortan, Texas and met Shane Nixon of World Slam Outfitters. Shane had roosted birds the night before and the two went to the nearest field from the roost and set Doug's Double Bull blind 40 yards from a fence. When the turkeys fly down into the field Doug called but the birds didn't come.
That afternoon they set up in the same field, further uphill.  Doug called every half hour with clucks & yelps.
At 6:00 a gobbler answered. In turn, Doug answered. As an hour passed there were a couple more exchanges. Then 2 longbeards appeared and they walked up behind the blind.
The back shooting windows were closed and when the Toms were 20 yards Doug dropped a window.
That made the gobblers uneasy and they started walking away. Doug drew and shot, his arrow hit it in the back and it dropped right there. 

Doug Crabtree and his Texas Rio Grande, bird #2 of his 4x4 Grand Slammer quest.

Sponsors For The 2004 4x4 Grand Slammer
Our 4x4 Grand Slammer with the bow created excitement with several manufacturers and they stepped up to the plate to sponsor the event.

SPONSORS
- BowTech - bows
- Knight & Hale - turkey calls
- Barrie Archery - Rocky
  Mountain broadheads
- Timberline Archery - bowsights
- MyTopo.com - maps
- Double Bull - blinds
- Carter Enterprises releases
- Pro-Ears hearing
  enhancement & protection
- Fine-Line Archery peep
  sights & bowquivers
- Montana Decoys - decoys
- EASTON Archery - arrows
- Freddie Bear Sports
  Assorted bowhunting gear
- KBA Knives custom knives
- Sticks N' Limbs camouflage

OUTFITTERS:
- Wulff Cedar Creek Ranch - Rio Grandes
- Florida Wildlife Unlimited - Florida Osceolas
- Possum's Trading Post - Missouri Easterns
- Double K Guide Service Merriam's
- Fred Lutger's Wilderness Hunts Illinois
- Wells Creek Outfitters Easterns

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