Gonna blog about my spring obsession here again today–spring turkey hunting. This time I have a report about the bird my son got. I was not able to hunt with him, but he filled me in on every detail when he got home.
Daniel had some business “out west” last weekend, so he planned to spend a little extra time with family out there and slip in some turkey hunting while he was at it. You all know how lousy the weather was in Nebraska last weekend. It was wet pretty much statewide and in some places the wetness came down in frozen white crystals. We have all been on hunting or fishing trips like that–you have a certain time to be in the field or on the water, but the weather does not cooperate at all. When I was much younger that used to frustrate me to no end; if there was some way I could change the weather I would. Living in Nebraska you learn that ain’t gonna happen, so you just have to shrug your shoulders and make the best of it. Do I like hunting spring gobblers in wet conditions? Nope, not at all; hate hunting spring turkeys in the snow even more. But, at some point you learn you just have to roll with the punches and make the best of what Nebraska’s weather deals you. I do not like hunting turkeys in the wind either, but if you wait until the wind ain’t blowing you will hunt turkeys approximately 4.3 hours for the entire spring.
I grew up in North Platte and spent some time back then chasing deer and coyotes in the beautiful, wild loess canyons that lie south and east of North Platte. Back in those days, we had to go to the canyon country of the Niobrara valley to hunt turkeys. When I would get home to the canyons in southwest Nebraska I used to sit on a ridge and imagine how cool it would be if we could hunt turkeys there too. There were no turkeys in those loess canyons back then, and I did not believe there was habitat, roost trees and water, that would support turkeys. Boy, was I wrong! We now hunt some of the same canyons I roamed in my high school days and they are LOADED with turkeys! Roost trees? They roost right in cedars!
That is the area my son hunted last weekend. He texted a snowy photo home at mid-morning Saturday.
A couple hours later he texted a photo of a Tom!
In a steady snow, he found a couple of mature Toms hanging out in a green meadow in the bottom of one of those canyons. He had to do some hiking to circle and get in front of them, it is never an easy hunt in canyon country, but he did and they walked right to him.
Thirty yards, 17 pounds, approximately 9-inch beard, half-inch spurs of a 2-year old bird. The Toms we take in that canyon country tend to be a little lighter than those we have harvested in other parts of the state, but we have seen birds over 20 pounds there too.
The worst part of taking turkeys when they are wet is that they look like drowned rats. The bird I got a week ago (Manure Spreader Bird) was wet from a heavy dew, but he was bone-dry compared to Daniel’s. There is nothing purdier than a big, Tom turkey. Pictures taken when the birds are dry and at their best do not do them justice, but I am afraid they look even worse when they are wet.
Nevertheless, I would much rather have pictures of trophies taken in the field, where the hunt occurred. I am not a fan of “driveway shots” or “back-of-pickup” shots. To me the picture in the field, with snow-covered ground and flakes drifting down, is a much better memory of the hunt, a much better way of respectfully remembering that grand bird and the experience shared with him. With the smart phones and digital cameras we all have now, taking pictures in the field, during and immediately after the hunt, has never been easier.
Daniel said it was good that it only took a couple hours of hunting to punch his tag. Being wet and cold, he did not think he could have stayed out for much longer.
I know that each hunter during Nebraska’s spring turkey season could take up to 3 gobblers a piece. My kids and I will stay with one permit for each of us again this year. We love sharing time together, and taking time to have quality hunts and take quality birds. Again, let me emphasize that it ain’t just about filling tags, stacking meat in the freezer. Daniel and I have punched tags now, my daughter Emily has missed one, but still has a tag to punch. That means she now has two guides working for her, and we will “Git-R-Done”, it is just a matter of time. Stay tuned. . . I just heard another turkey gobble. . . .