Our first turkey hunting experience
Over the last few weeks we have been looking at things you must do leading up to a great hunt experience. Now that you’ve got your Hunter Safety Course Certification and have purchased all your gear, it’s time for the great turkey hunt! After some time on the phone with the guys at Yamaha a date was set and before I knew it I was pulling into the camp house getting ready to go out and prepare for the hunt.
When you go to a different state to hunt the first thing you want to do is get an out of state license. This allows you to hunt in that state and it is no different than your own state permit except it could cost just a little more because you are not a resident. For visitors to Nebraska, the hunting license costs $20. The next item you will need is the tag for the game you will be hunting. Getting a turkey in the great state of Nebraska seems expensive ($91 per tag) and you are only allowed three tags per season for Turkey, which means you can only take three turkeys. Hunting the big bird is usually very difficult so getting three would be a great season.
Arriving at camp we were greeted by the local guide who took us out to sight in the guns we were to use for the next few days. Sighting in gives the hunter a chance to actually fire the weapon and become familiar with how they will react when the weapon fires as well as how the gun operates. Trying to take a wild turkey is difficult so a good shot is very important. The shotgun I was using was a 12 gauge with a full choke. This means the shot would essentially stay as close together as possible for a longer distance.
After our sight in we headed out to scout the areas where we would hunt the following day. In the cool of the evening the turkeys were heading back to roost and with a few key spots lined up the night would be full of anticipation of the next day’s show. At the camp house Matt Anderson with Camp Chef camp cooking products had prepared an incredible meal. Camp Chef produces some of the most user-friendly equipment just especially for the camping and hunting crowd. As the entire crew sat around the dinner table, Matt and I were singled out as the camp’s first time turkey hunters. After being teamed up, Steve Nessel of Yamaha had affectionately dubbed us Team Cherry. This would be our first hunt and we definitely had something to prove.
Getting up extremely early was the plan as the turkeys would be flying off their roost soon and we wanted to be set up and waiting for that moment before their internal alarm clocks went off. I jumped up at the sound of my alarm and dressed to the nines in my official hunting gear supplied by Under Armor. I then made sure to grab my new Garmin 655T so I could record my trek in the Nebraska wild lands. It was key for me to remember every tool I had found important for the hunt and in the rush of the first morning I was surprised I remembered anything.
Our guide, Doug, with Table Mountain Outfitters, set Matt and I up in a blind right next to a huge cornfield. The sun was creeping up and before we knew it the sounds of gobblers and hens had begun to crack through the darkness. This had to be the most incredible feeling as the world woke up and we were able to be there and watch it happen first hand. With the gradual rise of the sun it was clear that we had picked a spot about one hundred yards from a tree full of huge birds. The sound of the hens chattering back and forth would be broken up by the occasional gobbler and before long the entire tree was alive. After one brave turkey flew out of the tree my heart was pounding and before we knew it there were 50-60 turkeys on the ground just over the hill from us. And then it happened. The entire field went silent. Talk about letting the air out of our sails. Matt and I sat motionless in the blind as Doug crept up over the hill near the cornfield to see where the birds had gone. Just as he got to the edge of the hill he dropped to the ground and crawled back to us. Grabbing a couple of turkey decoys he motioned for us to crawl up to his location like a couple of big cats stalking their prey.
As he set the decoys up Doug began to chatter and call the turkeys. The response was instant and before we new it the crowd of wild game turkeys was headed right for us. In a low whisper our guide told Matt to shoot. Matt raised up his trusty shotgun and took his first huge gobbler. This is where everything went into slow motion for me.
I could hear Doug whispering “shoot, shoot” but I was in awe of the hen who was less than ten feet from me and as I raised my gun to find a tom I noticed two standing right together. I didn’t want to shoot them both or even worse, shoot one and only injure the second. So I had to wait a split second to make my decision. As the Big gobblers were turning to make a break for it I could hear Doug in my right ear shouting “shoot, shoot” and as the toms turned to run the second bird had stopped to look back. That wasn’t a good move on the turkey’s part as I was waiting for him and in a flash from the barrel of the shotgun it was over.
This entire event that had taken almost three months to plan for and only a few hours to carry out was over. Matt Anderson and I were no longer new hunters, but more like semi-experienced hunters with two of the first turkeys in our camp and an experience that I know neither of us will ever forget. I have to say that the best experience was just being in camp with some of the most talented guys in the turkey hunting industry. Bob Humphrey and Steve Hickoff shared countless stories and advice with Matt and I. Steve Nessl and Van Holmes were also very integral in our hunt as well as they planned the entire event and coached us along. Both of these guys are avid hunters and I want to thank them for their invitation to join them for what was an experience I will never forget. I hope to be able to join them again as its not only the hunt that makes the season – great friends and company complete the entire experience.
It has been a few weeks now since my first turkey hunt and I can tell you it feels just like yesterday. I have a beautiful Miriam turkey mount coming together and I’m really excited to see what next year’s hunting experience will bring. I was asked if I thought I might find myself in the Georgia turkey woods after this event and you know I just cannot get that off my mind. I guess I better start planning now just in case I need to be ready for the next season.
I want to thank these gracious sponsors of my first Turkey hunt: Yamaha Outdoors Table Mountain Outfitters Garmin: Garmin 655T handheld Two-way GPS Radio’s Under Armor: Hurlock fleece pull over, EVO HeatGear SS, Utility Field pants and Under Armor’s Camp Arion Cap. All of which were the Realtree AP HD Camo pattern.
Related Reading Top 10 Hunting Accessories For Your ATV Hunting With An ATV: Getting Certified 10 Things To Check Before Riding Your ATV Camping With An ATV: Advice on Gear and Trip Planning How To Tow ATVs Safely and Securely