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Day One of the Great Nebraska Turkey Hunt

Nebraska still has thirty days left in the season



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 30 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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Click on the link and visit Outdoors with Hank for great buys.

 

 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!

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