When the phone rang I was totally surprised at the voice on the other end of the line. Turkey hunting had not been good on this farm since a commercial hunting operation had opened nearby a couple of years ago. The landowner said they are back and we are seeing some nice size toms plus some really big hens.
Hunting this ground had been a ritual twice a year for several years, with outstanding success. A nice big tom in the spring and a couple of either sex in the fall. Nebraska's fall turkey season lasts a long time so you do not have to be in a big hurry. I had all but given up on this farm due to the commercial operation nearby. The landowner indicated that a large number of the flocks had young birds hanging around, so this was a good sign. If they are not being bothered, the hunting gets really good. You could say it is almost like hunting on a game reserve, but it's not.
It was time to scout things out. The north end of the land remained exactly as it always has been for probably several hundred years. Big oak tress dot the landscape and the deer and turkey will feast on the acorns. The one major change was a road had been cut along a ridge line to the valley below. This had been my favorite spot on the farm to hunt and many birds had been harvested at the foot of a couple of the big oaks. Still, it is not my land, and I am merely a guest so nothing was said. After a little time passes, the wildlife will accommodate to the change, and so will I.
My next favorite spot was a big valley that ran east and west. The birds would transition this area. Much to my surprise, there were some droppings right where I wanted them to be. This was great because the pattern was still there and so was the hiding place. The one thing that I noticed was the absence of deer. There was just not the numbers or the sizes seen in the past. This was probably due to the disease of two years ago during the drought that took out large numbers of deer. When mother nature thins the game, she is not kind.
Since I do not hunt deer on this farm, I don't care. Anyway, an old turkey hunter told me the deer warn the turkey when we are in the woods. Conversely, the turkey warn the deer of the same thing. That just can't be true, but when walking and stalking through a stand of timber, it is better not to see the deer running off with their flags up in the air.
To the south end of the farm is terraced open pasture and to the west side are corn fields. Nothing had changed here. After hiking this area, no signs were found. When the commercial operation opened up, this area was the first to lose the population of turkeys. Now there is not one sign. Could it be the birds are being baited?
I have a good feeling of the ground and where to set up and where not to set up. Now just to get the timing of when they are passing in flocks and be in the right location.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank