As we moved into late April and early May the turkey hunting on public land got a lot more difficult. The shotgun season had been open long enough that the birds were feeling the hunting pressure and had heard every call and every calling sequence out there.
In the last update we left off trying to target a group of turkeys that we had had patterned pretty well. We were going to setup on a hillside that overlooked the area that these birds liked to cut across as they fed in the ag fields in the evening. So, we got setup one evening on this hillside after seeing a few hens already in the ag field eating. We waited a good hour and a half to two hours without seeing or hearing a turkey but finally, with about 45 minutes of legal shooting time left, we spotted a hen working towards us. As she worked closer we saw a few more hens and a couple red heads bobbing along behind her. We used the call just a little bit and they worked their way to the decoys. As they got within 30 yards something spooked the bird in front and they hung up at about 45 yards before walking off in the other direction to roost. The good thing, though, was that it was just a couple of Jakes with a few hens and not the longbeards we were after.
Chance returned a couple days later to hunt in the morning in this same spot hoping to get a Tom to come into the decoys instead of a bunch of Jakes like the last few hunts. That morning he had an encounter with most likely the same group of birds. Right away in the morning he had a group of hens walking around on the hill behind him, but couldn’t find where the Tom was. The hens began to work towards him and eventually made their way onto the private land. Finally, Chance spotted a lone turkey behind him, again it was a Jake. This Jake and the hens he saw earlier all made their way to the ag fields as the morning progressed.
Even though Chance didn’t see a Tom that morning he was able to gather some information about a group of birds that had been gobbling all morning on the northern side of this property. So, we both turned our attention to the northern side of this property when we returned for an evening hunt that same day. Like we were seeing on the southern side of this property the turkeys spent very little of their time on the very edge of the public land and most of it on the private land and ag fields that bordered it. This group of turkeys was doing something similar to the birds we had patterned earlier in the year and were roosting on the edge of the public land and then flying down and walking to nearby ag fields during the early morning. Our game plan for that evening was to get as close as possible to where we thought they were roosting and try to get them to come investigate our decoys. We weren’t able to get them to come in that evening, but we knew where they had roosted and were going to return in the morning to try again. The odds were stacked against us that morning, as we knew that the birds would most likely fly down and work farther north away from the public land and towards the ag fields and that is exactly what they did. They were gobbling all morning and responding to the call, but as we got later in the morning they worked farther and farther away.
That would be our last morning hunt on this piece of public land, but we were able to learn a lot about how turkeys use public land, how they respond to pressure, and what their patterns are throughout the season. All is not lost, however, our season is still open in Nebraska through the month of May and we are now going to turn our attention to some private land we have access to and hopefully this will allow us to be a little more aggressive and bring a longbeard into range.
So, over the course of the next couple of weeks follow along as we hunt this property for the first time and be sure to check the website for some new and exciting content we hope to release soon. We are also currently producing a short film about a turkey hunt from earlier this season, so make sure to check the website for that as well.
Good luck with the rest of your turkey season!!!