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Tagged Out

I have a spring turkey hunting scrapbook.  That album of course has photos along with old permits on which notes about the hunts are scribbled.  Beards and spurs from birds taken are included.  The scrapbook is a great way to look back over 40+ years of Nebraska spring turkey seasons (Ruby Year).

Did some looking back through the years this spring because I did something I have not done in a while.  I bought two spring turkey permits.

At this time, two spring turkey permits are the maximum allowed in Nebraska.  In past years that number has been as high as three.  In spite of that, I have never had three permits in any one season, but there have been a few when I had two.  However, it has been over twenty years since I purchased more than one spring turkey permit in any given year.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you probably know I have only been buying one permit in the spring because I have had my son and daughter hunting as well.  Sure, we could buy multiple permits, at times there have been plenty of birds for that, but by limiting ourselves we get to enjoy each other’s hunts.

The kids are grown and gone from home now, hunting spring gobblers on their own (Under the Pink Moon).  We still share hunts when we can, but when pursuits go well, tags are punched by ourselves.

I have to admit the past couple, three years I filled tags and then wanted more.  Oh sure, there were mushrooms to pick and fish to catch, but I just cannot seem to get my fill of gobblers in the spring.  Have even slipped out a few times after I filled tags.  I just had to spend more time watching and listening to turkeys.  I cannot get enough of them!  Considered it scouting for the next spring!

The past couple of years, I could have easily taken another big tom while doing that “post-season” scouting.  Seasons were still open.  I snapped a few photos instead.

Filled my first permit this season with the Race Winner.  The next day picked a bunch of mushrooms.  Then I had another evening of mushroom searching which was unsuccessful–it was still a little early for that location.

I should say that just the mushroom picking was unsuccessful that evening.  While prospecting for fungi, I heard a turkey gobble.  As I walked the gobbling got closer.  Finally, I was about to head empty-handed back to the pickup, but the turkey was still gobbling.  I figured I would yelp on a call a few times (mouth calls are ALWAYS in my pocket this time of year).  Sure enough, Tom came right in looking for me.  I could have easily punched another tag.

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So, I got to thinking, if I was going to have to wait a few days for more ‘shrooms to pop, why not get another spring turkey permit?

Next day I talked to my buddy Greg Wagner on the phone.  Of course you know what Greg thought I should do. . . .

So, I bought another permit.  For the first time in over 2 decades, I was going to try to punch two spring turkey tags!

Late that afternoon I was back to my favorite turkey hunting spot close to home.  It was another capital “W”, Windy day.  Wind was howling.  But, I knew a spot, someplace the birds could get out of the wind, some open woods with green grass.  I knew there was a big tom using that area and had intended to hunt there a couple times already.  On this evening, I finally got there without spotting or bumping into birds.

Put out a couple of decoys and went back to sit at the tree I had picked out.  Found mushrooms growing where I intended to sit.

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For the next 1 1/2 hours plus I sat.  Saw and heard no turkeys.  Listened to the wind gust, periodically called.

After stroking some yelps on my Turpin box call, was watching the seventh or eighth deer wander by.  This one was off to my left.  Next thing I know, even farther left, out the corner of my eye, I recognized the shape of a strutting turkey.  He was about seventy yards off.  Then I saw four or five hens feeding along with him.

Soon as I saw him, I knew that Tom was going to end up right in front of me.  When he slipped behind some trees I did a slow shift to get the gun pointing in the right direction.  Then I just watched him strut and drum right along the dry creek bed to me.  He nor the hens ever made a sound that I could hear, other than the Tom’s strutting and drumming.

Thirty yards and he was still coming.  Saw the decoys and headed right for them.  At 14 paces I clucked on the call to get him to stop and look.  He did not.  I clobbered him anyway.

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21.6 pounds.  Beard about 9 1/4 inches.

I carry a small camera with me in my turkey vest.  Love to take photos in the field, right where the hunt occurred.  Prefer photos that document the place I was hunting, which was beside an old windmill.  Have wanted to take a turkey photo next to it for years; finally shot one there so I could.

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Yes, he had hooks!  A little over 1 1/4″.

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Probably not done spending time with the turkeys yet.  Will try to do some more scouting for next year!

There also will be more mushrooms to pick, and oh yes, the fish are biting!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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