Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day One of the Great Nebraska Turkey Hunt

This is day one for me because the weather shut me down on the opening.  Then it was time for interviews and to scout the terrain.  Then more rotten weather came with snow, sleet and freezing rain.  Along the interstate near wooded areas, there were toms out strutting around their harem of hens.  I still don't know if the cold weather has shut down the breeding process.  There have been some really nice days, with some single hens out pecking away.  That is a sign of a bred hen.  Nebraska still has thirty days left in the season.

I decided to go to Fort Calhoun and the farm on the hills overlooking the Missouri River bottoms.  This piece of ground has been a regular meat market for turkey and deer, but with the commercial hunting operation nearby, it has gotten a little tougher to harvest some dinner.  The timber on the upper part of the ridges has been holding turkey in the early morning where they have roosted overnight.  There are still birds around.

Down to my favorite spot along the fence line, I set up the Pretty Boy-Pretty Girl combination.  Good luck has always followed me with this decoy set up.  There I waited for the first light to appear and illuminate the hills.  A few hens appeared with some fly down cackles deep in the woods, but not the traffic seen in the past.  Still some toms gobbled away and moved toward my position.  

My favorite spot on the south end of the farm.
Using a slate call, a pattern of clucks and purrs was made followed by some additional calls.  The toms gobbled back, but did not come to my hiding place.  Looking down to the south, a nice big tom followed about six hens along the fence line and up to a fallen tree.  There the big boy did his dance, but they were just not interested.  It happens all the time whether you are a turkey or not. 

The big tom and his ladies moved up the fence line and then headed south at the end of the tree line.  I am going back to that location before day break to see if the pattern is still there

I was way out of range and my calling did not produce any kind of traffic.  I sat there till the sun was up and my bottom was exceptionally sore.  I got up with a creak and a groan as the lift to my feet was painful.  However, after a few steps the decoys were gathered up and relocated to spot number two.

This spot is in the woods among some oak trees that shed a lot of acorns.  At this location you always see deer and there is always plenty of turkey sign on the ground.

My back is against a really big oak tree and I am facing straight west.  You can see the two decoys in front of me.  The ground slopes to my left gradually, and is a steep drop off to my right.  To my right is where the big tom was coming from.  He must have caught a look and did not like what he saw.
I put out the decoys, then hunkered down on the ground for a 3o minute wait to allow the forest to settle down after my intrusion.  Soon the birds began to sing again, and the squirrels began to chatter and make noise.  Giving a couple of calls on the slate, there was no return answer.  Still this has always been a good spot, and patience was called for.  

Bam! a gobble was heard.  He was close down the steep embakment.  Hunkered down in front of a tree, I was confident that nothing could see me.  Birds and squirrels came very close and deer walked by within 20 feet of me.  Facing straight west, the turkey was coming up on my right.   My gun was lying across my lap with the barrell pointed to my left.  If he came all the way up, I would have to swing to my right and this might be an awkward shot.  

A charlie horse was starting to form in my leg and a sense of relaxation was forced by my mind onto my body.  It has worked in the past.  He gobbled a couple more times, and he was given in return some clucks and purrs.  Then the slate call was allowed to rest on my leg as I slowly moved my hands to the gun, and waited, and waited, and waited.  Then it all got quiet.  He did not like something because he never finished.  He never broke the top of the hill where he could have been turned into fresh meat.  It is called hunting, and that was great excitement on my first day out.  

I waited a little longer.  Nothing happened and no sounds were heard so I moved into the valley below.  In the past the birds in this location had traveled between wooded areas lingering in the open valley, and then moved back into the timber.

My gun is laying against the tree where I will be hiding.  This is the third spot for the day.
A good spot was located with the decoys out.  This time my hiding place was against another tree, but I was surrounded by dense high foilage of some sort.  Barely able to see over the top, my location was invisible except for the top my my head.  Deer moved by within twenty feet of me.  The birds and squirrels settled into their routines after about 20 minutes.  

The sun was well up, but my location was in the shadows.  The decoys were well illuminated and should have been very visible to a big tasty tom.  This was the good news, but the bad news was nothing appeared.  By early afternoon, the hunt was given up.  

Tomorrow is another day.  Who said that line? 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank Text

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