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Great Plains Connections with Julie Geiser – More turkey talk

What a great day of turkey hunting – although I chose to leave my bow at home and just shoot with my camera, it was an awesome day in the blind. I almost like to shoot things with my camera just as much as I do with a bow, gun or what have you. I guess it doesn’t really matter – when you have hunted game for 30-plus years it’s a nice change to view wildlife through the lens of a camera.

I got up before the crack of dawn, aiming to get to my blind that I had set up the week previous to see what kind of photos I could get.

Every plan looks great on paper and this morning would be no different; I hit the snooze a couple times too many, and my stomach was belting out some hunger gurgles, so I stopped at the local Casey’s store on my way out of town to grab a cappuccino and one of those tasty breakfast pizza slices…. oh yummy they are.

After I finally got on the road I was wishing that I would have gotten up just a slight bit earlier. My husband calls my time on the weekends “Geiser time” just because I will almost never be anywhere on time during the weekend. I like to think of the weekend like vacation so why keep track of the time?

I did, however get to the blind just a hair after the sun started to peek over the horizon, and before I could get my camera on the mono pod there was my first turkey off in the distance. Boy was he beautiful; there is nothing like a tom turkey in full strut with the morning sun behind him!

The first turkey of the day.

Then a group of five hens crossed behind my blind. I always say during the spring, “where there are hens there will be toms”, and sure enough the big boys showed up to put on quite a display.

These two toms were showing all their testosterone, seemingly wanting to fight to the death. They were biting and pulling on each others heads, snoods and caruncles, they were flapping their wings and the sounds they were making put every creature in the woods on full alert.

These two toms were battling it out.

Ouch that looks like it would hurt!

As the two toms were fighting, several other toms were strutting around them. They didn’t seem to really want to get in on the fight but looked to me to be encouraging the pair on. Three of the other big toms did get into a little wing and spur fight but it dispersed almost as fast as it started.

It sure is fun to sit and watch spring-time turkeys.

Many hunters that I know get out into the field and shoot the first thing that crosses their path instead of taking the time to watch, learn and enjoy the beauty of the wildlife around them. This is one thing that I always try to impose on everyone that I take hunting with me – take the time to enjoy your time in the field.

Still fighting
These three toms fanned around the fighting birds but didn't get in on any heated action.

As I continued to observe the birds, one long beard appeared behind my blind; he stayed way out on the perimeter of all the other toms. He was strutting his stuff only 10 feet from my blind – he put on a great display spreading his majestic, full tail fan and puffing his body feathers out to make him look huge. I made sure that my camera was rolling the entire time. He definitely didn’t want to get too close to any of the heated action, which made me chuckle a little. I kept  thinking maybe he was a chicken not a turkey, or perhaps he was the only smart bird in the bunch.

This long beard stayed on the perimeter of all the fighting.

The fight went on for about 10-15 minutes before the toms finally cooled down some. They all chased each other around and strutted for a while; picking at the ground every now and then for a morning morsel.

Full strut always gets my heart pumping!
Picking at the ground and more strutting.

About that time, the storm clouds that had been gathering around, busted at the seams and down came some much needed rain. That seemed to cool all the temperaments down – the birds hunkered under the canopy of bare ash limbs and cedar trees for a bit of protection from the rain.

I was pretty content in my waterproof blind, but thought I would sneak out while the getting was good in hopes of not disturbing the birds so I could come back later for more turkey action.

This tom was either in a great battle or was spared his life for the sake of some tail feathers by a predator.
More long beards.

About julie geiser

Julie Geiser is a Public Information Officer and NEBRASKAland Regional Editor based out of North Platte, where she was born and still happily resides. Geiser worked for the commission previously for over 10 years as an outdoor education instructor – teaching people of all ages about Nebraska’s outdoor offerings. She also coordinates the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). Geiser went on to work in marketing and writing an outdoor column for the North Platte Telegraph before returning to NGPC in her current position. She loves spending time outdoors with her family and getting others involved in her passions of hunting, fishing, camping, boating, hiking and enjoying Nebraska’s great outdoors.

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