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Logan's tom

Logan Hershberger, 10, the author’s son, took this tom on the opening weekend of the youth shotgun spring turkey season.

NEBRASKA GAME AND PARKS COMMISSION

It’s time to chase some gobblers. Nebraska’s season opened for archery hunting on its usual March 25 date, and brother Gabe and I celebrated by taking the decoys out for a sit. The birds are still in winter flocks where I hunt, which means either you are covered up in birds or you have plenty of time to think. So, I reviewed my 2013 season and what it may have taught me for the 2014 season that is now here.

Last year started cold and with a bunch of excited jakes. My brother took his first-ever turkey with a bow, 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.

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 field to the next. The morning of the hunt they had all sorts of turkeys filing past them. I guess pinch points work for more than just four-legged animals.

Toward 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 heck of a 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 it’s ready to go.

Once May arrived, things had changed dramatically, the weather being one of them. We had some cold, wet days. The birds responded 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 the season was open.

May 31, the final day of season, 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.

Turkey season never goes exactly as expected. However, I always come away with memories and experiences that will help out the following year — and I look forward to challenge.

Aaron Hershberger is an outdoor education specialist in Game and Parks' Information and Education Division. Contact him at 402-471-6144 or aaron.hershberger@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, Lock, Stock and Bedlam, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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