The sweet smell of spring was in the air as winter loosened its grip on the countryside. I was looking forward to the burst of Texas wildflowers across this magnificent state; scooting out over a lake in the crisp cool air to find that spot where the bass are bedding; and last but not least, another opportunity to sweet talk a turkey into showing his face!
I was fortunate enough to do my first turkey hunt years ago with Ed “Snowman” Johnson in the beautiful Ozark foothills of Missouri. The following year I spent a week tracking turkey deep in the rural beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In 2011 it was another chance to hunt turkey in South Texas. Only this time, the hunt would be captured on film.
Joe Coogan, Benelli brand marketing manager and host of Benelli on Assignment and Cristie Gates, Benelli USA media manager, brought together several women writers from across the nation for a women’s turkey hunt at Sarco Creek Ranch in Goliad, Texas.
Let there be no doubt about my excitement to hunt turkeys anytime or anywhere, but this hunt would surely be noted in my memoirs as one of the more fun, entertaining and rewarding hunts of my life.
As we gathered in Houston, the subject of snakes sneaked into our conversation. Several women in the group were from states that had very few, if any, poisonous snakes, and with a few passing comments we became extremely anxious about the thought of an encounter with a rattlesnake. This set the stage for a snake-boot shopping spree. After all, hunter safety should always be top priority.
Joe was familiar with the area and called “Wagon Ho” to begin the convoy of five vehicles with 12 passengers to Victoria, Texas. We proceeded to maneuver in and out of a number of sporting goods stores. This marked our first challenge of the week: Outdoor gear for women is sometimes hard to find, no matter how hard you hunt. Many of the merchants only offered snake boots for men, and most didn’t stock the men’s smaller sizes to accommodate our dainty feet. With a little luck, two of the women found the right fit and would have protection from the dreaded snakes. The rest of us would just have to rely on our charm.
When we arrived at the magnificent Sarco Creek Ranch early that afternoon, owner Milton Greeson welcomed eight women and camera crew, along with several others. Little did we know, we were making history. This would be the very first all-female hunt for Sarco Creek Ranch. Yes, the times they are a’changing, and the girls and guns had arrived!
After a late lunch, it was time to pattern the shotguns and let each girl shoot the new Benellis. The guns were assigned to each of us, and I was excited to learn that I would be shooting the new semi-automatic Stoeger M3500. There was also the new Vinci for some of the women to use. The shotguns were not only new on the market, but new to all of us. This can sometimes be a little intimidating. But with no delay, we were off to the gun range, and with the expert instruction from Joe and Cristie, we patterned our guns and gained accuracy and most important, confidence.
One thing I have learned over the years is that turkey hunting is often tough business. Although I was thrilled to be a part of this exciting adventure, there was no doubt that taking a tom was my main objective. I would be one Sad Sally if it didn’t work out.