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GRANT: Nebraska’s archery turkey season opened March 25th. So Adam loaded up his Prime bow and all his turkey gear and rode north.
ADAM: I arrived in Nebraska with just enough time to head to the farm and see if we couldn’t put a bird to roost.
ADAM: Fortunately for us, the birds were still in the field.
TERRON: That’s not 187 of ‘em, though, is it?
ADAM: No. Is that how many you counted the other night?
TERRON: I think the other morning, the other morning there was 187 of ‘em.
ADAM: Hunting turkeys in these large winter flocks can be difficult sometimes to bring them into range. Overcalling can often result in driving the hens away and taking the toms with ‘em. But we had our game plan together. Now we’re just waiting for the sun to come up, turkeys to enter the field and we hoped that our plan would result in a punched tag.
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ADAM: (Whispering) It’s opening morning here in Nebraska. Turkeys were scattered all up and down this river earlier in the week. Karen and Kyle was countin’; they counted 187 in this field. So, there’s a, a couple big flocks – very vocal – gets in your blood. They’re getting ready to fly down.
ADAM: (Whispering) We think some of the others have already flown down, so we’ve got five Montana decoys out. We’ve got the Perfect Pair and a couple of other Miss Purr-fects. Just with that many turkeys out here, we’re trying to just entice ‘em into range. Looks like a jake with his flock of hens, so we’ve got ‘em set up eight, nine yards – a couple even a little closer than that.
ADAM: (Whispering) Turkeys are roosted 100 yards to 200 yards away and they’re starting to fly down. So, we’re gonna get back, get ready. Hopefully, they come into range.
ADAM: We sat back in our chairs listening to all the calling and gobbling, enjoying this wonderful spring ritual.
ADAM: As the sun came up, we had several hens approach our decoys.
ADAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: Hearing the gobbling getting closer and closer, we stared into the woods hoping to see the first longbeard.
ADAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible) camera. There’s a tom right there.
ADAM: (Whispering) Are you on that tom?
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
ADAM: (Whispering) Oh, beautiful. (Inaudible)
GRANT: Chasing turkeys when they’re still in those large winter flocks usually means you get to hear a lot of great vocalizations – both hens and gobblers, see a lot of dominance displays, but you’re gonna have to use different techniques than the springtime cut and run hunt.
ADAM: The next animals to step out in front of us was not what we were expecting.
ADAM: I continued to do some soft calling and try and change their plans and, hopefully, bring ‘em a little closer.
ADAM: They had already made up their minds and were headed to the cut corn field.
ADAM: As these turkeys fed through the corn field and worked their way back to the woods, we snuck out of there with hopes of returning in the afternoon and having a closer encounter.
ADAM: (Whispering) It’s the opening afternoon of the Nebraska spring turkey season. We had a huge flock of turkeys on the field this morning, a bunch of gobblers. But they just stayed out of range the whole time. So, we’ve moved the blinds about 200 – 250 yards down to a little point in the alfalfa. We noticed a lot of the birds hanging out here this morning and we noticed the same thing last night. So, we’ve got the four Miss Purr-fects out, set up in the blind, several hours before dark. Hopefully, our plan will pay off.
ADAM: We settled in the blind and it didn’t take long for the turkeys to make an appearance.
ADAM: Turkeys were a long ways off but we still had four hours before dark so we knew that turkeys would most likely work into the alfalfa field before dark.
ADAM: (Whispering) They’re coming now. They’re all facing us.
ADAM: We watched the flock for hours, but it finally seemed like they had turned and were coming our direction. We could see several toms and jakes in the flock and like they do in the early spring, they were running around fighting, chasing each other and trying to show who was boss.
ADAM: If a tom got separated from the flock, these punk jakes would come along and do their best to keep him away from the hens.
ADAM: (Whispering) 6:13. Man there’s a lot of birds. I’m going and get my face mask ready. We got in the blind at about 3:00, 3:30. It’s almost 6:30. And they’ve been in and out of the field the whole time, but staying well away from us out in the corn. Last night they were in the corn when we got here about 7:30, 7:20, I think. And, they worked their way right back in front of us – right back in front of where we are now. So, hopefully, they do that same thing again tonight.
ADAM: (Whispering) Man, there are toms spread all over that. Where’s that at?
KYLE: (Whispering) I don’t know. I can’t tell.
ADAM: After hearing some crunch in the leaves to the right of the blind, I peeked out the window and see two toms and two jakes working less than ten yards away from the blind headed towards the flock.
ADAM: (Whispering) (Inaudible) (Whispering) Are they coming?
KYLE: (Whispering) Yes.
KYLE: (Whispering) Yeah. They may skirt us, though.
ADAM: (Whispering) I don’t care. I’ll shoot one.
ADAM: (Whispering) 20 yards. (Inaudible) Can you get him? Can you get him?
KYLE: (Whispering) Yup. I’m on him.
ADAM: The shot looked a little bit low, but thankfully, we were hunting a large field so we watched him run out into the cut corn and lay down. We let the flock work its way out of the field, so now it’s time to find my bird. Ahhh.
ADAM: It was a great day in Nebraska. We had watched turkeys almost the entire day so it felt great to finally fling an arrow.
ADAM: Oh, look at that. Oh, man. Beautiful sunset, too. What a day it has been. That’s about the closest you can get to deer hunting without actually deer hunting. Sit in a blind, wait ‘em out. They weren’t real responsive to calls today. There’s a flock of over 100 birds. So, they’re kind of just doing their thing. We’re trying to get in front of ‘em and I don’t know. 3/4” spurs. He’s, he’s like buff over here, but white over here. Real, real cool lookin’ thing.
ADAM: Just a big thanks to Clint. He’s the landowner here. He let us come in here with Kyle and Terron. They’ve been scouting it out all week. He’s been growing ‘em all year. We came in. Awesome hunt.
ADAM: We always enjoy hunting turkeys in Nebraska during the early spring. The sheer number of turkeys in one flock is impressive in itself. But hearing all the calling and turkey language is something we can all learn from.
GRANT: Good calling can convince a turkey to close the distance. But seeing is believing. And using decoys can really help that turkey close the gap to within range.
GRANT: Different hunting scenarios often can benefit from different decoy setups. The variables often include terrain, timing of the breeding season and the habitat. One of the most common setups we use and probably the safest is the lone hen.
ADAM: Our most popular decoy setup that we use here at The Proving Grounds is the lone hen. Of course, we always have Miss Purr-fect in our vest. And since it is timber country we don’t want a big spread of decoys out, so we’ll have one lone hen out just to catch the attention of the gobbler; keep his eyes fixed on that decoy as he comes into range.
ADAM: Another option we use – especially during the early part of the season when gobblers are still sorting out their dominance – is throwing in a jake decoy. This is Jake Purr-fect. We’ll pop him up. We usually pair him up with a lone hen. Always want to put him upright, put that big red head he’s got up in the air. It kind of draws the attention. I’ll put him one or two yards away from the hen and I’ll usually switch the lone hen to a feeder pose – just so they’re not both upright and alert. Switch her down like that. This is a great setup to use during the early part of season. Or even mid-morning through the remainder of the season. As the days go on, hens are gonna leave and go sit on the nest, but it appears that a jake still has a hen with him so it can peak the jealousy of a tom and turn a slow morning into a successful morning.
GRANT: Adding a Jake Purr-fect decoy to a lone hen can really fire up a boss gobbler.
ADAM: If you’re seeing multiple toms run together and they’re really sorting out the dominance at your hunting property, one of the best setups you can have is a breeder hen decoy with a strutting tom.
ADAM: So, we’ve already got Miss Purr-fect set out on the ground in a breeder pose. She’s not on a stake, she’s just setting on the ground. Then we’ll take Papa Strut – pop him up behind her like so. Yep. So having a strutting tom with a breeder hen can show those dominant birds in the area that there is an intruder and he’s after one of their girls.
GRANT: Typically, early during the season, the toms are still sorting out dominance. This is a good time to use a full strut decoy. If you really want to juice that setup, use a hen right in front of that tom that’s in the breeding posture.
ADAM: These next two decoy setups need to be used with caution and it’s important to know your surroundings. The decoy we’re using is the Montana Fanatic. Kind of a last ditch effort or a “Hail Mary” pass. If the gobblers aren’t working, there’s two ways you can approach it.
ADAM: This decoy folds up flat, so it’s in my vest during a hunt. Birds are hung up 200 yards and they’re not approaching my setup, I can reach back – I’ve got my gun in my left hand cause I’m left-handed – I can pop it out, just using one hand. Turkeys are out there; they’re not really paying much attention. I can slide this up, stick it in the ground right here beside me, set back, give a few calls, get ‘em to look my way. Now, there’s a strutter in their area and they may come in to try and whoop him.
ADAM: So, we’ve got Papa Strut set up back behind us to give you an example. Turkeys are hung up, they’re out of range. So it’s time to crawl to them. We’ve got the fanatic. We’re staying behind it. We’re trying to crawl within shotgun range or give enough threat of dominance with the decoy that he’s gonna come and try and investigate.
ADAM: Or, you can do it like this.
GRANT: We’ve used all these setups at different times and in different states. And each one has proven successful in the right conditions.
GRANT: Whether you’re already chasing turkeys or your season is about to open, I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy Creation this week. But most importantly, slow down every day and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
ADAM: We walked in well before…
MATT: Well before…
ADAM: I know that’s why I was like…it was one tone and then I just like “WELL!” I was like what?
ADAM: Peeked out the side of the window to see two toms and two jakes. Whaaa! (Laughter)
ADAM: I thought that was a, that was a big bumblebee, but I thought it was one of those great big ones – like it just came in. Jurrrrrr.
ADAM: We scrambled in the blind to get the bow and the camera into bosition, bosition, bosition, position?
ADAM: So, do you right now want me to talk and crawl?