If you are a white-tailed deer hunter, you are going to see them. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. I am referring to wild turkeys.
Even mule deer hunters will see flocks of wild turkeys in farm or ranch yards, patches of woods, creek bottoms and shelterbelts.
The question for you, the Nebraska deer hunter, remains: Have you purchased a fall wild turkey hunting permit? If the answer is no then why have you not bought that permit yet?
Luke Meduna, Big Game Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, says wild turkeys are in the same habitat as white-tailed deer and the chances of seeing them are good. You can easily combine a deer hunt with a turkey hunt when the seasons overlap.
“Like white-tailed deer, wild turkeys thrive in all 93 Nebraska counties and occupy the entire suitable habitat available to them,” commented Meduna.
“Sure, we don’t have the numbers of wild turkeys we had ten years ago in the state, but we still have adequate enough numbers to hunt and harvest,” emphasized Meduna.
The opportunity is there to bag a bird.
Meduna continued: “If turkey numbers are down in your area, then shoot a tom (mature male turkey). If you have abundant or overly abundant numbers of turkeys, where you hunt then consider taking an adult hen or a young bird.”
In fall, mature gobblers are often solitary or in very wary, smaller gobbler-only flocks while adult hens and young-of-the-year birds are in noisy, larger flocks.
Meduna believes fall wild turkey hunting is under-utilized in Nebraska. Only about 6,000 fall wild turkey hunting permits are sold annually, compared to more than 28,000 each year for the spring season.
Spring wild turkey hunting takes center stage and is popular for a variety of reasons. “In the fall,” Meduna points out, “there are just too many other game options for hunters to pursue such as deer, pheasant or waterfowl.”
Even though some hunters think it is merely an ambush type hunt, Meduna asserts that autumn turkey hunting is a great way to expand your overall knowledge of wild turkeys, get a challenge and harvest a delicious wild turkey. “You can observe flock behavior, make the hunt a tougher one by using your calls or holding out for a big gobbler and perhaps shoot a delicacy for the dinner table.”
The kee-kee and assembly yelping calls are widely used by turkey hunters in the fall. Serious fall turkey hunters “recall” birds from hen/juvenile groups they intentionally flush or bust up. Here is the adult hen assembly yelp call done by Denny Gulvas of Gulvas Wildlife Adventures:
Some hunters think that spring is the traditional turkey hunt. Not true. In Nebraska, the original turkey hunt was the fall version, which began in 1962. Spring turkey hunting officially started in 1964.
Deer hunters like myself have discovered the advantages the fall turkey hunting season offers. I hope you, as a deer hunter in Nebraska, will, too!
For more information about wild turkey hunting in Nebraska, visit www.OutdoorNebraska.gov/wildturkey/