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Taking simple steps before the season can lead to a successful day on the spring turkey opener.

NEBRASKAland Magazine, NGPC

Nebraska’s spring turkey season is nearly here. The following simple preparation steps can help get that ol’ longbeard strolling your way right off the roost on opening morning. And these steps will not take too much of your time.

Road scouting

You have to be where the gobblers are. The quickest way to find them is using your ears early in the morning, as they sound off before flying out of their roost trees. The quickest way to cover a lot of ground is to drive county roads, safely pull over at likely spots and listen for them.

Early on, turkeys will be bunched up and most of the gobbles you hear will be close together — sometimes the same tree. Past experiences help narrow the search area. If there were birds there last year before the season, there is a good chance there will be birds there again this year. Check as many potential spots as you can, keeping an eye out for birds on the ground as you drive back home or to work.

For those needing to check out brand territory, use the Nebraska Public Access Atlas at

Get permission

If you found turkeys on a public access area, great, proceed to the next step. If they are gobbling on private lands, track down the landowner to obtain the required permission before doing anything more. If you are unable to secure it, find a different area with turkeys or talk to neighboring property owners. The birds will not spend the entire spring in just one place.

Midday tromping

Do not bump birds out of their roosting areas; it will only make things tougher on you. Instead, wait until at least midmorning, when the gobbling has died down, then go for a stroll. You are scouting the property for good hunting spots. Look for likely strutting spots, food sources and travel routes. The best places to hunt will be semi-open areas for toms to strut that have little to obstruct the birds coming to your call.

Gobblers will avoid walking through thick brush or crossing fences and deep ravines when they do not have to — most of the time. Hidden areas that meet these criteria that also have limited people or vehicle intrusions can be golden. Remember the best-looking spots and how to get in and out of them discreetly.

Listen some more

As opening day nears, do some more predawn listening from a safe distance, either from a good listening post on the property or safely from a nearby road. This time, linger a bit longer so you hear or see where the gobblers like to head after fly-down. If it is toward one of the hunting locales you identified in your tromp, you are in business. If not, make the adjustments when you place your blind or walk in to hunt on opening day. Using a satellite map can help you zero in without having to tromp again.

Aaron Hershberger is an outdoor education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at


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