Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nebraska Turkeys

I like the way Nebraska sets up it’s licensing for spring turkeys for shotgun. The license is active on April 17th and is valid all the way to the end of May. Nebraska has a lot of turkeys, and the area north of Fort Calhoun is loaded.
I hunt from a farm that sits on top of a narrow ridge and drops steeply off on each side. 25 % is terraced pasture, 25% is dense timber, and 50% is planted in corn. The planted area has a creek running by it. This farm has it all for game. Water, cover, and food make this an ideal place to hunt deer and turkey. The south and east have timber and there is no hunting allowed to the east as it belongs to a nonprofit organization. Right next door, so to speak, is a grocery store. The area of pasture and woods is really tough walking and is similar to hiking in the mountains. On the photo page are some shots taken during the winter when I was up for fall turkey.
I have always found it interesting to hunt this location. Regardless of what I did last spring and fall, it is always different. It is not like the farm in Iowa. If one spot is bad, there is always another close by, and you are on level ground. It is not like scaling the Rocky Mountains when hunting at the Iowa farm.
There was rain the first few days of the week, followed by windy days. On April 26th I headed up to Fort Calhoun in the early morning. My plan was to set up at the southern most area of the farm along the fence line that borders the ground I hunt and the area of no hunting. I sat against a fence post with the timber behind me and open pasture to my front and either side. There was a small drainage dam just off to my left and it was full of water. I was exposed, but covered in my leaf suit. Deer came by 20 to 30 feet away, paused, looked, sniffed, and slowly moved off. Something was not right, but they were not sure what it was. The morning started off with lots of noise. Gobbling toms, and yelping hens all coming awake. Nothing came out of the woods. I gave a few calls, but no answer. Then off to my right two nice size toms appeared. I didn’t move, except for my hand on the call and gave off a couple of yelps. That caught some attention. I gave a cluck and purr several times. They liked what they heard and began moving slowly toward my direction.
I didn’t like the way I was sitting as I was right out in the open and the toms were close. My gun was laid across my lap. I had to pick it up, shoulder it, and swing it toward a couple of birds that would move at the slightest motion. (Now, I must change the subject and talk about movement. I am always amazed when driving down the interstate at the number of turkeys I see right along the side of the road. They pay no attention to the traffic, continue to peck away at the ground, and just totally ignore what is going on around them. When I see this again, I am going to stop, providing there is no traffic.)
The birds moved to about a 45 degree angle from me and started up the hill to my front. They were about 15 to 20 yards out. This was a perfect shot. I slowly slid my call to my left side and dropped both pieces. The turkeys started moving up the hill away from me. “Come back, come back”, I was thinking. “You need to move more to my left”. I moved my hands down cautiously and grabbed the call. I gave the toms some more cluck and purr. They liked it and turned more to my left and down toward me. I just knew, one was thinking, “ Where are you my darling? I am looking for you”. I eased the call again back to the ground and moved my hands to the gun. This was a lousy idea. I should have brought my tent blind. The birds moved back up the hill and were out at least 35 yards. It was now or never. But wait, another tom stepped out of the woods to my left. Off to my right came a group of hens. I should have brought my tent blind. The decision was made. Take the bird to my left, forget the toms out front. I pulled the gun up and tried to roll my shoulder into the stock, but the tom was moving quickly back into the woods. He was quick. That bird just escaped death. The toms up on the hill started running like the woods were on fire. The hens jumped up and flew right in front of me. This was a disaster. I should have brought my tent blind. It was 8 AM and I messed up two really nice shots. I should have brought my tent blind. The day was still young. There was more to come.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank (

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