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Texas Hill Country Rio

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In 1990 while in the Army at MOS training Ft. Gordon, Georgia, I became friends with one of my roommates, Cumby L. Freeman.  We went to Airborne Jump School together, we were both assigned to Bravo Company, 82nd Signal Battalion at Ft. Bragg and then we were both deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Gulf War 1.  Cumby L. completed his commitment to the regular Army in 92, and I in 93.  We stayed in contact over the years with a phone call every now and then and via FaceBook always wanting to meet up but life getting in the way.  Last February, I received a phone call with an invite to hunt Rio turkeys in the Hill Country of Texas with my long time brother in combat, Cumby L. Freeman.  I made a commitment to make it happen!  After 26 years of staying in touch and a 12 hour drive, my wife, MonaChari and I were in the Hill Country of Doss, Texas where I had the honor to introduce her to my Army  buddy that she had only heard about.  The next morning we got up early for a short drive to the Antlers Ridge Ranch in persuit of a Rio.  Shortly after setting up and making a few scratches on the slate, gobbles started thundering through the hills.  Deer were catching wind of us, snorting and blowing, but still a hen came right in after sunrise and busted us.  It was not long before the birds stopped talking and we called it quits for the mornings hunt.  That afternoon, Cumby and I went to another blind location for a quick sit in the woods before a dinner date with his mom, who vigantly prayed for our safety and provided many a care packages while deployed to the Gulf War.

We only had one hen come in and hang out for a while during that short sit before having to head back to the truck parked on one of the ranch trails.  As we got back to the truck, opened the doors and started to unload the guns, I spotted a tom about 80 yards out behind a cedar tree coming up the trail towards us in full strut.  I told Cumby to freeze as I tried to reload my shotgun as quietly as possible and while doing so a hen popped out of the bend in the trail 20 yards away between us and the tom.  Of course she spotted us and spooked right away, but the tom had just worked his way into to bend and was still heading in the direction he last saw the hen.  In what seemed like 20 minutes, the tom finally stepped out from the bend 20 yards away in full strut and I slowly squeezed the trigger to drop my first Rio.  

That evening, we all celebrated our 26 year reunion, our first hunt together, and successfully taking my first Rio.  Cumby’s step father also just happens to have the worlds largest Texas Rangers badge, pistol and paraphernalia collection in the world and we thoroughly enjoyed our private viewing of the amazing collection.  

We have decided to make this an annual event and both of us were ashamed it took 26 years to make it happen.









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       Thanks Duane so much for sharing the trip and hunt with us. I like the Rios. Never had a chance to hunt them but when bow hunting pig and peccary in that part of the country got to see many of the Rios. They stand so straight up and look really tall,


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