Friday, May 31. Final day of the 2013 Nebraska Spring Turkey Season. And what a season it was. Each year brings challenges and this year seemed to contain them all. Snow and cold, wind and dust, rain and flooding – sometimes it seemed as if they all occurred in the same day, too. But this is Nebraska and there were birds.
I was able to get out on the second day of archery season with my brother, the first day of youth shotgun with my son and the first day of shotgun for the rest of us with the entire family. So being in the turkey field, by myself, on the final day seemed appropriate. Having an open permit in my pocket was a bit odd, though, as this is something that hasn’t happened in awhile. This is a testament to the state’s healthy turkey population, and not necessarily my skill.
The original plan was for my son and I to give it one more go. But Logan was not interested when I tried to roust him in the dark of pre-dawn. It can be a bit tougher to motivate yourself this late in the season as the days start even earlier. So I headed out on my own not knowing what to expect other than one last chance to enjoy the king of spring.
I parked the truck, put on my vest, grabbed the gun, even a decoy (against my better judgement) and headed south a few hundred yards. Arriving at my chosen spot the first gobble of the morning came from the north…right by the truck. Too late to back track, for fear of being spotted by the waking turkeys, I place the decoy and make my stand. A few more end-of-season gobbles betray the location of another bird or two but none seem any closer nor are they the aggressive vocalizations of earlier in the season.
Even though the gobbles are few they have my full attention. So it isn’t until I hear the muffled wheeze that I realize that a pair of white-tailed deer bucks have wandered to within 50 yards of my position. They now have my full attention. Theirs is held by the plastic turkey 12 yards in front of me. Both are in the process of growing new antlers for the coming fall and I get to examine the head gear of each as they spend the next 5 minutes trying to decide if my decoy is something they should be concerned about. As the deer disappear, I realize the gobbles have too.
The silence gives me time to think of the hunts that defined the season of 2013: My brother’s first turkey with a bow; My wife’s first turkey with a bow; Logan’s first encounter with a pair of long-beards as a bona fide hunter; Mike’s malfunctioning shotgun; and birds that got named, then got away. All blog material for another time. My thoughts are put on hold as I hear a gobble. The first in some time and closer. A few excited clucks pulls an even closer gobble – he’s in the field I am guarding. About the time I spot him, he spots the decoy. Now we will find out if bringing the fake hen was a good idea.
My season ends as all of my hunting seasons end…looking forward to the next one.