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Deer hunters, buy a fall turkey permit

If you are a white-tailed deer hunter, you are going to see them. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. I am referring to wild turkeys.

Even mule deer hunters will see flocks of wild turkeys in farm or ranch yards, patches of woods, creek bottoms and shelterbelts.

A flock of wild turkeys, a hen/juvenile group, moves through a grassy area amid colorful fall foliage. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The question for you, the Nebraska deer hunter, remains: Have you purchased a fall wild turkey hunting permit? If the answer is no then why have you not bought that permit yet?

Luke Meduna, Big Game Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, says wild turkeys are in the same habitat as white-tailed deer and the chances of seeing them are good. You can easily combine a deer hunt with a turkey hunt when the seasons overlap.

Wild turkeys in a hen/juvenile flock walk around the edge of a harvested soybean field heading towards timber just down the hill from a ground blind for firearm deer hunting in southern Sarpy County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

“Like white-tailed deer, wild turkeys thrive in all 93 Nebraska counties and occupy the entire suitable habitat available to them,” commented Meduna.

“Sure, we don’t have the numbers of wild turkeys we had ten years ago in the state, but we still have adequate enough numbers to hunt and harvest,” emphasized Meduna.

The opportunity is there to bag a bird.

Meduna continued: “If turkey numbers are down in your area, then shoot a tom (mature male turkey). If you have abundant or overly abundant numbers of turkeys, where you hunt then consider taking an adult hen or a young bird.”

This is an adult hen wild turkey harvested from a deer hunting blind during a recent firearm deer hunting season in southeast Nebraska. This bird was taken from a flock that numbered over 40 birds. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

In fall, mature gobblers are often solitary or in very wary, smaller gobbler-only flocks while adult hens and young-of-the-year birds are in noisy, larger flocks.

This was the lead tom in a small flock of big adult gobblers moving through a clearing in the woodlands of southeast Nebraska as seen from an archery deer hunting blind. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Meduna believes fall wild turkey hunting is under-utilized in Nebraska. Only about 6,000 fall wild turkey hunting permits are sold annually, compared to more than 28,000 each year for the spring season.

Spring wild turkey hunting takes center stage and is popular for a variety of reasons. “In the fall,” Meduna points out, “there are just too many other game options for hunters to pursue such as deer, pheasant or waterfowl.”

Even though some hunters think it is merely an ambush type hunt, Meduna asserts that autumn turkey hunting is a great way to expand your overall knowledge of wild turkeys, get a challenge and harvest a delicious wild turkey. “You can observe flock behavior, make the hunt a tougher one by using your calls or holding out for a big gobbler and perhaps shoot a delicacy for the dinner table.”

The kee-kee and assembly yelping calls are widely used by turkey hunters in the fall. Serious fall turkey hunters “recall” birds from hen/juvenile groups they intentionally flush or bust up. Here is the adult hen assembly yelp call done by Denny Gulvas of Gulvas Wildlife Adventures:

Some hunters think that spring is the traditional turkey hunt. Not true. In Nebraska, the original turkey hunt was the fall version, which began in 1962. Spring turkey hunting officially started in 1964.

Deer hunters like myself have discovered the advantages the fall turkey hunting season offers. I hope you, as a deer hunter in Nebraska, will, too!

I, your blogger, harvested this hen wild turkey while crossbow deer hunting on the opening day (Sept. 15) of the 2020 Nebraska Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Season. Photo courtesy of Rob Schutte of Gretna, NE.

For more information about wild turkey hunting in Nebraska, visit www.OutdoorNebraska.gov/wildturkey/ 

A hen wild turkey is called back close to the spot where a flock was scattered with assembly yelp call during a fall season. This was along the edge of a harvested cornfield bordering an expanse of old-growth woods in eastern Washington County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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