It’s time to chase some gobblers. Nebraska’s season opened for archery hunting on it’s usual March 25 date, this past Tuesday. My brother Gabe and I celebrated by taking the decoys out for a sit. The birds are still in winter flocks where I hunt. This means either you are covered up in birds or you have plenty of time to think. So, as the cardinal sang I started reviewing my 2013 season and what it may have taught me for the 2014 season that is now here.
2013 started cold and with a bunch of excited jakes. I remember one of the first mornings being 18 degrees, but thanks to a portable heater and a mob of mostly young-gobblers we never got cold. My brother took his first-ever turkey with a bow (Season of Firsts) and a nearby herd of jakes immediately mobbed his fallen gobbler. It was this hunt that proved we needed to leave our fake-jake at home. Pecking order is huge in the world of the turkey and the big boys don’t mind kicking the tail-feathers of a young male from time to time. However, when vastly outnumbered they usually avoid the confrontation.
A few days later my wife took a turkey with her bow in a narrow spot between two crop fields at the intersection of a corner of woods and a hedgerow. My brother found the spot and put his deer hunting knowledge to work on turkeys. It was the easiest way for critters to get from one to field to the next. The morning of the hunt they had all sorts turkeys filing past them. I guess pinch points work for more than just four-legged animals.
By the time you could chase gobblers with a shotgun in mid-April things were really hopping around us. My son dropped the hammer on his first-ever turkey on opening day (Best First…Ever!) in one of the most unique turkey hunts I have been a part of. as we called back a trio of jakes. Then the very next morning my wife toppled her second of the year, just when she thought the real hens had stolen all the boys away for the day. Reemphasizing to me that you should never walk away from a bird that answers your calls.
Towards the end of April a good friend of mine made his annual pilgrimage to Nebraska. The first morning found the two of us squaring off with a pair of toms. Having filled my first tag the night before, I opted to leave my shotgun in the truck and arm myself solely with a box call. The long-beards gave us a heckuva show as they worked their way in-between the decoys. At the moment of truth the loudest sound to come from his gun was a ‘click’…some bad words, then another ‘click’. Well after the lovelorn toms slipped away we discovered the innards of the semi-automatic 12 gauge were not put together correctly. More proof you should know your gear and always make sure its ready to go.
Once May arrived things had changed dramatically. The weather being one of them. We had downright cold days and even some wet ones. The birds responded to the weather by not being very responsive to hen calls. The birds would gobble, but not often to our pleas. But we kept going, because we are turkey hunters and season was open.
May 31, the final day of season (Last Day Hunt) found me in a spot that I chose more because it was an easy walk than for any other reason. Just before light I heard the customary gobbles from birds roosted a good distance away. As the sun came up I had a pair of white-tailed bucks, antlers in velvet, keeping me company. They paid me little attention as they investigated my decoy. Still perplexed they slowly made their way out of the field and into the timber. Only then did I spot the strutting tom. Patience and persistence was rewarded.
I have never been through a spring turkey season thinking that it went just as expected and 2013 was no exception – very unlikely 2014 will be either. However, I always come away with memories and experiences that will help out the following year – and I look forward to challenge.
Happy turkey chasing.