There are certain things an outdoor writer is definitely not supposed to do, and getting lost is about four of them. We are also not supposed to, while loading a firearm, say “I never can remember which way these bullet doo-hickeys go in there.” And certainly, under no circumstances, are we supposed to say, “Ewwwww” when we’re field dressing an animal. It’s poor form.
Not that I worry about getting lost, but I never worried about getting old, either, and look what happened there. So I was more than relieved to learn that someone would be driving Leret and me to and from our stand every time we went hunting on Rio Grande Rancho. The place contains about 37,000 acres, which is just about big enough to need a compass. And an airplane.
A fellow named Roberto was our driver, and he was a very nice guy, as far as I could tell. We would load up in a double cab pickup, and Roberto would take off to drive us to a turkey stand. Or maybe to Panama. We really didn’t know where he was taking us, and we really couldn’t ask, not effectively, anyway. Roberto didn’t speak any English.
I would try to make conversation in Spanish, which was like tying a shoe with one hand. Making small talk is a chore, anyway, because you have to come up with something to say. With Roberto, I had to try to come up with something to say, and then figure out if I could say it in Spanish (usually not). I managed to ask Roberto some questions about himself. I think.
He’s 27 years old, married, and has two children, a seven-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. He’s been working at Rio Grande Rancho for about a year. Either that, or he has a seven-year-old wife and 27 kids, one of which bought the ranch last year. I’m a little vague on the details, but we had some fine conversations.
Leret, unfortunately, is worse off than I am with Spanish, so every time I tried to ask Roberto something, Leret would say, “What did you say?” And then, when Roberto answered me, Leret would say, “What did he say?” And most of the time I was at a total loss, and trying to have one conversation in Spanish and one in English at the same time was like trying to drive with your wife and mother-in-law both in the car.
But Robert was a good driver, despite the fact that, when we traveled on Highway 2, he seemed to believe he was supposed to drive astraddle of the center stripe. Oncoming vehicles apparently irritated him, seeing as how they were taking up part of his road, but he reluctantly moved over for them. Most of the time.
Roberto would drop us off at a stand and, just in case we turned out to be as dumb as we looked, he would always point at the stand. Not that we couldn’t have found it by ourselves, but he was coming back to pick us up in about three hours, and he wasn’t taking any chances.
All the stands we hunted in were made of camo cloth stretched between trees, with brush piled around. They were temporary box blinds. Box blinds, as the name implies, make the hunter inside as blind as a box, unless he looks over the top, which is not recommended. Because turkeys are not as dumb as they look. No one ever has to point out the blinds to them. They know right where they are.
The afternoon of our second day at the ranch, Leret and I hunted in a blind next to a creek. I have no idea how many turkeys we saw, but it was like we were at a turkey interstate interchange or something. We were trying to be still and quiet, and let one another know when we saw something, but it was a lost cause. The turkeys came from all directions, and gobbled constantly, and we had a hard time keeping up. It would have been easier to let each other know when we didn’t see a turkey.
The problem was that, with so many turkeys watching, it was going to be difficult for Leret to draw a bead on one without being seen. Finally a nice gobbler came in alone, and there weren’t any other turkeys around at the time. It was only about ten yards away, and Leret was able to ease the shotgun up and poke it out between a couple of mesquites. It seemed like he aimed for five minutes, but he finally blasted the bird. I was probably more excited than he was, but when I asked him what he thought about turkey hunting in Mexico, he said, “It’s great.”
And I figure, if you can get a 13-year-old to grin big enough that his ears bump together in back of his head, and say, “It’s great,” you’ve had a good day . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who can usually remember which way the bullet doo-hickeys go in a gun. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Rio Grande Rancho website at www.riogranderancho.com