[ Submitted by Mick Jensen- Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioner ]
In Nebraska we are fortunate to have a variety of outdoor opportunities available to us regardless of the season. Recently another commissioner, Rex Fisher, and I experienced a whirlwind (30 hour) outdoor experience we won’t soon forget.
We left on a Friday afternoon traveling to Lynch, Nebraska on a predator hunt for coyotes. Coyotes had become a problem for a rancher friend of ours who was concerned for his newborn calves. But we were going to take full advantage of the time we had to spend in Lynch. We had also packed our archery gear with plans to hunt turkey and the travel itinerary also included dropping by an Angus auction in Creighton.
We went online and purchased our turkey permits, packed our gear and began the four hour scenic road trip to Lynch. We arrived at the ranch, picked up the predator call and headed out to set up a decoy rabbit to make the sound more realistic for the wily predator. Conditions were not optimum as a strong south wind kicked up. After some scouting we selected an opening near tall cottonwoods and head-high buck brush. Soon the squeal of a distressed rabbit was piercing across those 20 mile-an-hour winds. Camouflaged and hidden in the brush we waited in anticipation. The time always flies by as wildlife watching in the area provides sufficient distractions. Blackbirds, robins, Canada geese all dropped into view while we waited.
Finally, a little before dark, we conceded that no coyotes or other predators were going to be lurking that night. But, as luck would have it, eight turkeys began feeding right toward us by the tall cottonwood trees. It took nearly 30 minutes for them to feed and slowly amble closer to us. We waited with baited breath to see just how close they might finally settle in. Another lucky circumstance, we had set up right across a corn field from their roost trees! Doesn’t get much better than that. I am always amazed as I watch those “B-52 bombers” sized birds make nearly vertical flights up into the tops of roost trees. The rush of wings flapping can be heard over wind gusts of major proportions. We would soon discover that the next day was to bring bring more excitement.
Up at 4:30 a.m. and trudging back to the field before light, Rex and I headed out with head lamps charged, and crossbows ready. It was about a ten minute walk to our stations, and then we settled into hiding in brush watching for daylight and listening for the first gobbles; eager with anticipation! About 6:30 a.m. the first rays of light began to appear and the crescendo of gobbles and clucks began. Then suddenly it seemed our plan had faltered when the turkey flew away from us as they left their cottonwood roost. A quick glance from Rex in my direction gave a clear sign that we could cross the brush and track them through some marsh grass.
I settled in by a large cedar tree strategically placed between a large Tom and me. As I crept closer the gobbler’s curiosity drew him into my lair, he either heard or saw me and couldn’t resist coming in for a closer look. My adrenalin was churning!
This was my first attempt with a newly purchased crossbow. I was trying to find an open slot between the branches that were being whipped by the wind. My heart was in my throat. When the Tom came as close as I thought he would, I squeezed the pressure on the trigger and waited to watch him fall. Unfortunately, the fall never occurred. I was either too nervous, or a branch hit the bolt, whatever the reason, I just plain missed! The Tom turned tail and, with dust flying, in that fast turkey wobbling run to flight, left my presence.
Rex and I marveled and chuckled about what we had just experienced as we walked back to our vehicle. We were off to scout more territory and see the great new ranch that Rex and his cousin Gene Timperely had recently purchased. As you can imagine the stream and oak forest hold great potential for turkey and deer. The landscape and weather provided a great opportunity for the dogs to get their feet wet as well, while Rex and I scouted the hills and wooded areas with thoughts of future hunting trips to the area.
Checking the time, we scurried to change clothes and headed for the Creighton sale barn to watch Gene’s Angus sale being conducted live and on the Internet. On the way we stopped at a local locker plant for some highly recommended jerky and locally made polish and hot dogs to take back home with us. The Angus sale went well with a mix of bids from locals and Internet participants in New York, Oklahoma and Indiana.
A mere two hours later we found ourselves looking through the windshield at the road ahead of us, driving back to Blair and Omaha with stories to tell and more great outdoor excursions planned for the area!
Whirlwind trip indeed, chock full of experiences in a mere 30 hours! Now we know where to go for our next hunting experience. Next time though, we are going to make plans to stay a lot longer and when we can experience all the area has to offer at a more leisurely pace.