Public Land Spring Turkey Hunt in Nebraska
It started with a text on a Monday from my husband, asking what I thought about going to Nebraska for a spring turkey hunt. And by Friday of that same week we were on our way. Spontaneity is one of my favorite things about our relationship. We are always up for a last minute adventure and he's my favorite adventure partner.
Initially we wanted a shotgun tag, but that season hadn't opened yet, so we settled for archery. Our luck, or perhaps skill, is not always too great with archery, but we said "what the heck" and loaded up for the weekend.
The drive to south central Nebraska is approximately 6 hours, with a stop near Lincoln to drop off our dogs at a friend's home. We arrived at the cabin around 11pm - one Brian has been staying at for years, thanks to a wonderful family that is so generous to allow us to stay there. We unloaded our gear and went to bed, anxiously awaiting our alarms signaling it was turkey time!
The place we hunt is approximately 17,000 acres of public land that Brian knows like the back of his hand, having hunted there for so many years. This place is very special to us, as it is the first place that Brian and I hunted just 5 years ago when we were dating. And while that hunt didn't end in a punched tag, it was our first experience as an outdoor adventure couple that forever solidified our relationship together and pushed my love of the outdoors even deeper.
Back to our present day hunt - our alarms went off around 5am. We gathered our gear, and got onthe road. We didn't have time to scout the land, so Brian was going off of memory and insight from others he knows from the area. We took a chance and parked our truck off the side of a gravel road. The walk in was fairly easy, all downhill in the dark - the sun had not risen just yet. In the dark I wasn't sure where we were, but as the sun started to rise, the familiarity of location came flooding back.
Brian set up the 2 Avian-X turkey decoys. We positioned ourself with a tree to our back and barely any front cover. Brian had a small sapling in front of him, but it might as well have been a twig, it was so tiny. The set up felt like it might be a bust but we heard gobbles all around us so we decided to give it a go. We called a few times using both a slate and mouth call.
After about 15 minutes, we saw 2 large turkey's coming in hot! As they inched closer we could tell they were Jakes (young turkeys) and began to consider whether or not we would take them. Past experiences hunting have told us that every time we pass up the first opportunity, another opportunity tends to never present itself.
So with a couple seconds of thought, Brian decided to take the shot towards the larger of the 2. The turkey's were so close that all 3 pins on his bow were position on the turkey. As the first arrow flew, we heard it make a 'thud', but neither turkey really seemed phased. We think the arrow may have bounced off the decoy. Brian nocked another arrow and let it fly, this time hitting the target perfectly. Turkey down!
18 minutes into our hunt and the hunt was over! This is not normal, not typical of how a hunt usually progresses. We both actually looked at each other for awhile a bit dumbfounded and unsure of how we felt! The feeling we had made me realize just how much we both love the act of the hunt just as much as the kill itself, if not more. We love being within nature and watching the woods come to life. It's an incredible sight and sound to hear the world wake up while feeling a part of it. It's difficult to describe. Something I encourage you to experience yourself, even if not hunting, just head out, be still, and listen in the early morning hours. It's a feeling I crave!
After spending some time searching for the arrows with no luck, we decided to pack up and make the trek back to our vehicle. This bird may have been a Jake, but it was a BIG Jake and quite heavy at that! The uphill climb the entire way back to the truck didn't help either.
But we finally made it back and began the processing portion of the hunt. I have to say, I was quite surprised with how much meat we got off the bird! At least enough for 4 meals! I had Brian save me the feathers as well. I plan to make jewelry and probably a few others things out of them as well.
So all-in-all, we were in and out - back home - within approx 24 hours. It is quite possibly the fastest hunt I've ever been a part of, but it was my first time being a part of a successful turkey hunt, and for that I am grateful!
We did manage to catch some of the hunt on camera, including Brian's shot. You can check it out on YouTube by clicking here, or the image below.