Tough Turkeys In Nebraska

The hunting season kicked off again this spring with my trip to Nebraska for turkeys with the bow. This has been a hard winter all over the West and Nebraska proved to be no different. The birds were still in very large winter flocks and had just begun to break up.

We arrived and went out the first afternoon and did not find the birds where we had hunted them the year prior. We spent the better part of the day scouting and coming up with a plan. The public land we were on as well as some of the ranches still had snow left over and the weather was not kind the first few days.

Birds were located but in flocks of 100-200 plus birds. It is very hard to try and call or decoy birds away from these large groups. We had to set up in the strut zones or travel corridors to try and get into archery range of this many birds.

Some flocks had 20 to 30 Toms in them as well as 50 Jake’s and several hundred hens. Although this makes for great excitement it is very hard to hunt. We ended up scouting a lot to see where these birds would strut and loaf during the day and see how they travelled to and from their roost areas and set up our blinds and decoys. Once we got this pattern figured out we just hunted hard every day and waited for the birds to arrive. Random calling off and on worked to keep the birds interested but the best plan was to just catch them milling around in the woods.

You have to be versatile in your early season techniques to be able to tag a mature bird. Our group ended up killing 4 Tom’s with the bow on video and the two kids were ages 10 and 15. I was able to hunt the last day we were there and sat in the transition area in the evening to try and catch these birds headed back to the roost. By 6:30 we could here them in the next valley and realized that they were not headed our way. I got out of the blind and took Warren my camera kid and we walked around the steep cliffs. My plan was to try and catch these birds in their staging area before they flew up to roost. I was still wearing my black top due to sitting in the blind. We climbed up on the bluffs and worked our way around to where the entire flock was headed.

As I got close I could see birds strutting everywhere and knocked an arrow and walked around the sand hill. I saw 2 tail fans coming up the bluff right to me. I drew my bow and watched as the bird walked right at me at 5 yards. One well placed arrow and the bird was down in less than ten steps. What started out as a routine hunt setting in blinds ended up with my first spot and stalk long beard. Just a few tips for archery hunting turkeys. They are very hard to kill due to their small size and constant movements they make. I like to have  a broad side shot and I aim right up the legs to a point where they meet the wings. If you shoot here you will break down their legs and if they can’t run they can’t fly. If the bird is facing you head on I like to aim right under their beard. If the bird is in full strut and walking away I take aim right where the tail fan ends at the rear end. These birds have a very tough will to live but can be so much fun with the bow.

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