Turkey season is coming, but you don’t need us to tell you that.
You don’t read this blog for us to tell you things you already know, and yes, we know that we just told you what you already know.
No, you’re a wise turkey hunter and you seek out information to become an even wiser hunter. So let’s do just that.
When we think of great turkey hunting states, we think of Nebraska. Three of the four Grand Slam species await, and tags are over the counter. So we called our buddy Aaron Hershberger with Nebraska Game and Parks and asked him for the lowdown on turkey hunting success.
“Hershey,” we said. “We know all the best turkey tips and how to turkey hunt. Give us the good stuff. We mean the top-shelf, behind-the-counter, secret-handshake-required turkey wisdom.”
Boy, did he deliver.
“The spring of 2020 saw thousands of new gobbler-chasers take to the woods,” he said. “This year could be similar as we all look to the outdoors for our refuge of normalcy. Here’s some things that should help you bag a bird.”
Have a Plan B & C
“My addiction to hearing gobbles, and having inherited the wanderlust gene, means I am always looking for new and different places to chase turkeys,” Hershberger said. “The benefit is that come hunt time, I have two or three spots in mind. And when a curveball is thrown at me, such as rain-soaked mud roads or someone already at my first spot, the hunt goes on. I head to my plan B or C.”
With the increased pressure on known turkey lands, having a couple other options could save your hunt. Hershberger suggested throwing a few odd spots into the mix. Sure, turkeys are usually found around cottonwood trees or streams, but when the urge to merge with a hen strikes, a tom will wander wherever she may roam. As the season moves along, hens will start looking for out-of-the-way nesting sites. This often drags love-struck gobblers out where they have no business being, say the middle of a wide-open stubble field.
Hunt Like a Banker
Turkey hunters, especially first-time or newer hunters, think they have to be in the blind ready to roll at first light. It’s just not true, Hershberger says.
“One common trait I notice in consistently successful turkey chasers—especially those hitting public lands—is their preferred hunt time is generally later than it is for other hunters,” Hershberger said. “Somewhere in that 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. slot seems to be a favorite. You may not hear as many gobbles as the crack-of-dawn hunters did. But you make up for it with less competition from hens and other hunters, for the toms that do sound off.”
The added benefit is that you get to sleep in a bit longer, enjoy that first (or fifth) cup of coffee, and did someone say “donut run?”
Get Warm, Get Comfortable
OK, so buy some Badlands gear… Got it.
But what Hershberger means is that spring weather can be… fickle. Mother Nature is just waking up and she’s a bit cranky. Warm day, cold day, wet morning, scorching afternoon.
It just doesn’t matter.
Hershberger reminds us that the breeding season comes once per year. No matter the weather, those toms are going to get their best “How YOU doin’?” on regardless.
“In cold years, the birds may still be grouped up a bit and using areas that help give some protection from the wind and such. So that’s where you need to be, too,” he said. “If you know turkeys are around and you can find a spot just a little more comfortable to be hunting them in… That’s the spot the turkeys are going to come to as well. Get there early and be patient. The birds may just appear in front of you without much warning.”
So, to recap the deep-cut knowledge our turkey talker just dropped on us.
- Find the comfortable place in rough weather, birds will be going there too.
- Let the early birds get the worm, roll in mid-morning and you’ll get the toms.
- Have a backup plan. And a backup-backup plan. And a backup-backup-backup… You get the idea. The turkey-hunting locales are going to see more pressure than ever this year, so have other options in mind and don’t be afraid to get creative.
Now, all you need for a successful turkey venture is to hit BadlandsGear.com and get your own warm, comfy and makes-you-damn-near-invisible-to-turkeys gear. If you need to know where to start, check out this article on must-have gear.