Spring Turkey in Nebraska '03
A nice tom with my bow.
Another pic of bow turkey
Randy and I, Randy was calling for me when I took this nice tom..
My shotgun turkey. I passed 6 smaller toms, all nice birds, throughout the day waiting for this nice bird. This bird has a 9 1/4" beard.
This is Steve's first turkey. He took it with a shotgun. We both ended up with very nice turkeys on the same evening.
Another pic of our turkeys.
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Bow Turkey '03
My '03 Spring turkey from NE. I got this bird the evening of April 04th. My friend Randy had gotten me permission to hunt a piece of ground I'd wanted to all year. We headed in for the evening hunt and got setup. We waited for about 2 hours and hadn't heard anything. It was getting cold and we were starting to shiver. Then all of a sudden right in front of us 2 hens popped up over the rise about 40 yards away, then 3 jakes, then a single tom.
They all walked past us at about 35 - 40 yards not paying the least amount of attention to our decoy. They headed straight to a roost tree they were interested in and out of site, but only about 50 yards away. Randy started to call softly. After a couple minutes I could see the jakes walking toward us through the trees. All of a sudden the jakes started to run toward us, there was the tom running hot on their heels. They ran past us at about 40 yards, never stopped, and ran out of sight over the rise. I was starting to shiver so hard I didn't think I could shoot my bow. The jakes and the tom gobbled, yelped and fought around for a while out of site, then here they came again. The 3 jakes came a running with the tom after them and headed toward where the hens were to our left and out of site again.
I whispered to Randy that if he could get that tom to stop if he cam by again I'd take him even though he was farther than I'd like to shoot. Randy started to call just a little more aggressive and louder. Here come the 3 jakes walking back toward us again, followed by the tom of course. That tom only had 2 hens and we was not going to share with these 3 little jakes. The jakes cleared the trees and was taking the same path past us as before. The tom was on their heels. When the tom was behind the last tree I drew my bow and started to follow him into the opening. As he came into the clear Randy yelped him hard a couple times. The tom stopped, stretched his neck and started to gobble - THWACK! I drilled him.
The tom starts to beat his wings and flop around. Randy yells, "Get him!". Unfortunately both of us had been sitting on our knees so long that us old farts couldn't just jump up and run to the bird. We must have looked like a pair of sprinting runners at the Special Olympics, and neither of us would have won. I put my bow over the bird and held him there for a little while. He wasn't going to go anywhere.
Last year Randy watched as I bounce an arrow off of the back of 3 nice toms. I kept lifting my head to see the bird better. I learned my lesson this year and kept my head down. I shot that bird at 33 yards a nice bow shot for anyone.
Shotgun Turkey '03
This was a great turkey season for me. I got my bow turkey in a couple hours my first night, and left NE in a heck of a blizzard the next day. I managed to get access to hunt a piece of ground I don't think has ever been hunted for turkeys. My friend just pointed to a piece of river bottom that I could hunt that he's never even walked. He knows there's turkeys down there but where and how many were up to me to find out.
I spend a day learning the lay of the land. I knew I was onto something when I was walking the land the day before shotgun season opened and I kept walking up on small groups of turkeys. I was seeing some good birds, 7 - 8 inch beards, but no monsters. I'd had such great luck with my bow that I'd decided to hunt for a trophy instead of taking the first tom I came across - this was going to be very hard for me.
I spent the morning sneaking around on some nice birds but just didn't find what I was looking for. The birds seemed to leave the bottoms pretty fast that morning and head up into the fields to the East, out of the my range of permission. I'd found a couple good roost trees that morning and decided to spend some time looking for a natural blind and get out of there before I stirred up the whole river bottom.
I found what I was looking for! I had a row of roost trees on the edge of a nice little meadow along the creek. The meadow had a couple pine trees and a little deadfall in the middle of it. It was perfect! I could crawl up under the pines and the deadfall would help keep my movements hidden. The back side of the roost trees had a high corn stubble field so I was pretty certain the toms would come to my side of the creek to strut and show off in front of the hens before going to roost. I was looking forward to the evening hunt.
I walked in about 16:30 to get setup for the evening hunt and it seemed like every time I moved I was pushing up groups of turkeys. I was cursing myself for not getting setup earlier. I was starting to worry that I was going to run every turkey out of the bottoms before I got setup. I made it to my little natural blind with 3 hen decoys, my video camera and tripod, and started to get setup. Once I crawled under the tree I knew I was in a good spot. I had good vision and good shooting lanes, I was only concerned I may have to shoot left handed if they can in to my left. I practiced left handed a few times and felt I could make the shot if I had to. I settled in to wait for evening.
It was about 18:45 when I started to hear gobbles. They were coming in from the North just as I thought they would - so far so good. I'd purr on the slate and do soft yelps but that's all I wanted to do. I was close to where I thought they'd roost so I didn't want to get carried away. Pretty soon they showed up over the rise to my left and were about 40 yards away gobbling, strumming, and strutting away. There were 2 toms and a hen first. The hen putted and yelped a little taking to the decoys and walked right through my 3 decoys. The 2 toms followed right behind her and straight in front of me at about 15 yards. I was videoing the whole thing and was having a hard time working the call, the video camera, the shotgun, and keeping from being seen. The toms stopped in front of me at about 15 yards and seemed to loose interest. They where nice toms but not what I was after. They had 7 to 8 inch beards and less than 1" spurs. On the video you can hear the safety on my shotgun coming off. I had the shotgun to my shoulder - I can't tell you how hard it was not to take a mature tom in front of me at less than 15 yards. I just watched them walk away. I was hoping for more, larger birds.
It didn't take long to find out why the toms went back to my left, there were 2 more toms. The 2 new toms were definitely larger and more mature toms and had the toms that were by me worried. They all strutted around for a while and gobbled up a storm. It's really something to hear them strum close to you.
I started to purr real soft on the slate and a couple more hens showed up. They walked straight into my decoys. The hens started to make a soft purring and putting noise, a sound I've never heard before. They also puffed up a little like a tom. Once the hens did that all 4 toms came a running in a full strut. The 2 big toms were in front and the toms that were in front of me were following behind. The big toms crossed in front of my heading word the hens at about 10 to 15 feet! I raised my shotgun, took off the safety, and realized one of the toms was almost going to step on me from behind! He startled, that made the toms in front of me jump. The big tom I wanted flew straight up in the air and away about 10 yards. Once he touched down I had his head in my sights and shot - he was done!
Check out the video links above for the end of the hunt including the 2 big toms walking across in front of me and the shot. The video looks dark but it was still very light. The camera was adjusting for the bright sky. I wish I could find a way to adjust the brightness a little. It's still a very exciting hunt! I only wish I could have done it with my bow.