In recent years, many states have crafted airgun friendly regulations for small game hunting with an airgun. There has also been a trend, but moving slower, to add regs on the book to allow big game, and there are currently several states where an airgun hunter can take a deer. However, turkey are another matter. At the current time there are only a handful of states that allow this great game bird to be taken with air. California, Virginia, Maryland (in the fall season only), but now Texas has joined the ranks.
This season I went to Texas with the goal of bagging my first Rio Grande turkey in the first legal season in the LoneStar State! I was actually hunting for deer, however the fall turkey season overlaps with deer, and I read a report in Texas Parks and Wildlife that stated more turkey are taken with deer rifles during deer season than shotguns
I was using the AirForce Texan .357 for deer, and passed on a couple smallish bucks early on, since I had a few days to hunt. But I’d seen where the turkey had been roosting and feeding, and knew from tracks they were coming in to the deer corn. Later in the morning, after the peak hours when deer were on the move, I watched some birds come down and start feeding toward me. I decided if they got in close, I’d take one.
After watching for about a half hour, two toms split from the flock and feed into range. When they got to about 50 yards, I laid the crosshairs on the lead bird, and as I sensed they were getting ready to move off, squeezed off the shot while thge bird was on the move. I hit the bird a bit further back than anticipated, and watched him spring up into the air, then do a kamakazi nose dive on the other side of the ranch road.
Now it’s obvious you don’t need a big bore 250 fpe gun to kill a turkey, and in fact if I’d been out specifically for one of these birds rather than mixing it with a deer hunt, I’d have used a .25 or .30 caliber mid power gun as my preferred bird gun. However, unlike not using enough gun, there isn’t a significant down side to using more gun than is needed in most cases (unless there are safety reasons).
I will definitely be returning for the spring season. I think that Texas is right up there with Arizona, maybe surpassing it, in the variety of game available to the airgunner. However, many of the animals that have to be drawn for in AZ, have over the counter tags and larger bag limits….. not to mention the huge populations of ferals, exotics, and predators.