Big Toms in Eastern Nebraska


The Location

Look at the location.  The top of the ridge is on the north side of the farm.  I arrived the day before at 8 AM. There were two really really big toms cresting the ridge.  A discouraging word was uttered under my breath, and the time was noted.  When I left the day before at 1 PM, a really really big, I mean really big tom saw me coming and took off over the ridge.  I thought a disouraging word, but it was not spoken.
The next day, the arrival time was 6:30 AM and a location for the decoys was selected.  This location was   critical.  The area has had lots of rain and the grass was really tall.  Soon cattle will be allowed to run the pasture and hunting will be stopped.  This was the day to “get er done.”  As you look at the location, it is almost like a runway.  The birds hug the tree line on their way to the small lake below to get water, fight, and breed hens.  Then they slowly work their way back up the hill and over the ridge.  The time frame they approach has to be around 7 AM and the day before they were seen around 8 AM going over the ridge.
I believe turkeys are a creature of habit and will most likely follow similar patterns regularly.
The decoy setup

The decoy setup was done with visibility to the top of the ridge in mind, and to make sure they could be seen from each tree line.  Also it was important to find a spot where the grass was short.  Yesterday, decoys were put out in grass that was in excess of 6 to 8 inches in height.  That is good for cattle, but not for turkey decoys.  Several of the decoys were hardly visible in the tall grass.  This was not the case in this location.
The Hiding Place

Many times a successful shot has been taken from my Double Bull Blind.  Hunting from a tent for me is the ultimate.  Here a good book can be enjoyed, a nap taken, or movement can be done.  However, the last few days with so many hung up toms, there was doubt in my mind.  The plan was to hunt without the tent to see if that made any difference.  In the center of the picture were two pine trees.  Here, my folding chair was shoved back almost to the trunks between the two trees.  Branches were pulled around me and the decoy bags were hung over the branches to the left to provide added invisibility.  As I sat in the darkness, there was no way a turkey could spot me. I was sitting in my chair by 6:50 AM.  I allowed ten minutes to go by to let the woods and pasture settle down a little bit because of my presence.  I took the slate call and made some yelps. I then repeated the calls in ten minutes.  Nothing was heard.  With the shotgun lying on my lap, I opened the Kindle.  The plan was to give a crow call in 5 minutes and some more yelps in another 10 to fifteen minutes.  A good wind was out of the southwest and it made the Pretty Boy Decoy bob and move around a little.  That was a good thing.  Also, the wind was causing the Jake decoy to move a little.  The other three decoys were placed in a submissive position to the Jake and the Pretty Boy Decoy. 
The Result

All of a sudden off to my left he appeared.  A big white head and lots of blubber around his neck, he had not made a sound.  He strained to see the decoy spread the stepped forward.  I wanted to take a picture of him, but I didn’t want the movement to scare him off.  He puffed himself up, spread his tail, and settled his head back.  He began to strut toward the decoy setup.  That was his last movement, because at 25 yards the shot was taken.  I ran out of the hiding place with a 22 cal pistol to make sure he was down and out.  An extra quick shot in the head eliminated all doubt. 
These birds are really tough and stories abound about knocked down birds getting up and flying or running away.  Never, never trust a downed big turkey.  They have the ability to absorb a lot of shot and then take off on the run or on the flight.
Since I was alone, I set the camera on a 10 second timer.  A person has to really hustle to get in the picture.  The big boy scaled out at 24 pounds.  The bottom picture shows the length of his beard.  It was a ten incher, and the biggest one ever taken by this writer. 
This was a great day for me.
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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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