Be equipped with snake boots. You have a great chance of running into a rattlesnake (western diamondback) in most Rio locations. Be ready and cautious of where your next step will be, especially in the dark. These snake boots aren’t just for snakes but also for a variety of cactus and other prickly plants that may get you in your travels.
Rios are known to roost in some unique locations. Some places these birds don’t have the luxury of a great big ol' oak roosting tree. A lot of small mesquite and other small trees are suitable for a turkey. They get by with what they have. We glass a lot when it comes to Rios. Power-line poles/structures, live oaks in river bottoms or larger mesquite are places they feel safe to roost.
Rios don’t have a powerful gobble like an Eastern. A lot like a Merriam's, these Rios are softer in their gobble. It’s very important to recognize terrain and your position and try to be precise on the gobbler's location. It's usually not as far as it sounds.
We will tell you firsthand that Rios' eyesight is unreal. I’ve heard some say that Rios are easy to kill and are dumb. You may have a hunt where that gobbler acted like that given description. Our experience is much different. Predation plays a huge role with a wary gobbler where we hunt in Oklahoma and Texas. Gobblers and hens are constantly looking (like other species do) to the edge of fields or clumps of cedars. Anything out of the ordinary they are gone.
Another point to these turkeys in being very cautious is the open country they live in. Choose a great spot out of the sun that allows you to stay hidden while working a gobbler. This is a great tip for any turkey but extra effective for Rios.
It may sound funny. I thought it was when I first heard this, but there were a few times I swore I saw hens react to my normal hen talk kind of strangely (like I do in the Eastern wild turkey zones); even gobblers have. Try to match a call to a Rio hen: high-pitch, not much turn over, and little rasp. It's similar in the sound and tone of a Merriam's. This can add just a little edge to your hunt and give you another positive factor over a gobbler.
Don’t be afraid to use a gobbler decoy. We can’t explain it, but out of all the states we hunt and our years of experience that we have hunting these birds, Rios tend to be more aggressive than other subspecies of wild turkey. We have had some great hunts with gobblers reacting to fanning and/or full-strut gobbler decoys. It can be a lot of fun and effective to get one into gun/bow range and put on a show for you.
Scouting and using cover in open country is important. As mentioned, Rios' eyesight and alertness is crazy good. Utilize the cover you have to scout. Approach cover like any other terrain, but be extra cautious in open country. You are very limited, so make the best of it.
A lot of times in these areas of the country you can see 90-100 degrees by 1:30 in the afternoon. These birds are in their shaded core areas where they are feeding, loafing and/or courting. These river bottoms or ravines are key locations for turkeys to get out of the hot sun.