Turkey

A wild tom turkey looks for corn kernels to eat in a combined cornfield in eastern Washington County.

Greg Wagner

You cannot call yourself a true turkey hunter until you have accepted the fun challenge and vivid excitement of hunting North America’s largest upland game bird during the fall season in Nebraska.

Hunters who have never experienced fall hunting are missing an opportunity to learn more about wild turkey behavior. The sights and sounds of 20 to 30 turkeys approaching from all directions can be just as exciting as calling in a spring gobbler.

With Nebraska’s fall wild turkey hunting season opening Friday, I have compiled some reasons why you and your hunting partner should buy fall turkey permits this year.

Two-for-one permits: You can have two permits during the fall season, and you can harvest two birds per permit using either archery equipment or shotgun.

Bargain for youth: Youth turkey permits are only $8, and there is no minimum age on turkey hunting.

Easy permit to get, carry and use: Turkey hunting permits in Nebraska are easier than ever to acquire and carry via modern technology. Turkey permits can be purchased, shown and tag-canceled on your mobile device or phone. A screen shot of the permit can be taken as a backup. You can go paperless!

Long season, lots of birds: Fall wild turkey hunters enjoy a long season. The Sept. 15–Jan. 31 season is one of the longer fall wild turkey hunting seasons in the country.

The wild turkey populations in Nebraska remain strong and stable, with birds in all 93 counties. Some counties even rank within the top 10 counties in the nation for turkey abundance.

Satisfied hunters: A survey of turkey hunters last fall found they were mostly satisfied with their Nebraska hunting experience. Of the 1,114 responses, 63 percent stated that they were satisfied with their hunting experience and 98 percent replied they would hunt Nebraska in the fall again.

Array of subspecies/feather coloration: You never know what coloration of feathers will be on your bird or what turkey subspecies you might shoot. Jeff Lusk, Game and Parks upland game program manager, says the color gradation of tail feathers can resemble the appearance of Eastern, Rio Grande and Merriam’s subspecies, or Merriam’s crossed with game farm Easterns, all of which have been released in Nebraska over the years.

Variety of habitats and many public lands: Wild turkeys in Nebraska can be found in a variety of habitat types and on many public properties. They seemingly adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available. They appear to prefer open, mature forests interspersed with various tree species. Hunters will find good hunting opportunities on more than 500,000 acres of public and public access lands. Visit outdoornebraska.gov/wheretohunt to learn more.

Combination hunt: You can combine a fall wild turkey hunt with other hunts, such as deer, pheasant, quail or grouse, or even a scouting trip for other game. Fall turkey hunting also offers a chance to look around your woods for edible, fall wild fungi to complement that wild turkey being roasted in the oven.

For more reasons to hunt fall turkeys, read my blog, In the Wild, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Greg Wagner is a public information officer in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Communications Division. Contact him at greg.wagner@nebraska.gov.

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