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Scouting the Ground for Turkeys

Hunting this ground had been a ritual twice a year for several years, with outstanding success

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.

Fall colors in Nebraska

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.

One of my favorite locations

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.

Along the ridge top

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.

Hiding right behind this tree on a side of a hill has always been productive.

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

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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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