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Powerstroke

Nerbraska 2013 1st bird with a bow!

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Here is my story of my 2013 hunt in Nebraska. I've been there twice before, but so far with poor results. Ever since I started sharing my love of turkey hunting with friends I haven't been able to fill a tag. Last year I came close three different times but still couldn't seal the deal. Considering all three of those chances were hunting out of state I've taken an interest in trying other states with more birds and easier to get tags. Not tomention, who doesn't like seeing new places.

So this year we chose Nebraska again do to the chances we had last year, the ease of taking the trip and the early season bow-only opportunity.

We packed up our things on Sunday March 24th. Even with just three guys we had plenty of gear with blinds, packs, bows and clothes for all of us it was a full vehicle. Consider we also had a 4x6 trailer and a canoe and we were pretty loaded down. When we left town it was 30* and sunny.

When we arrived in eastern Nebraska it was another story. The temps had dropped considerably, it was nasty winds and it had started snowing. Based on what we could see, we shoulda brought shotguns and layout blinds. The skies and fields were full of geese, something I've never witnessed before. IN this photo the birds stretch from horizon to horizon and the sound was deafening.

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We checked out our spot for some scouting and found nothing but a frozen lake and single digit wind chills, and more waterfowl.

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A quick check in with a local farmer dampened our spirits as he shared he hadn't seen any turkeys this winter. He wasn't sure where thy'd gone, but said they'd been gone all winter. Last year this area of about 600 acres held two flocks totaling 30 birds with several toms. This year nothing. We were welcomed to hunt again this year which was good to hear, but we had to locate birds first.

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Day two was actually the first day of the season. Nebraska opens every year on the March 25th, no matter what day of the week it is. This year it fell on a monday. We decided to sleep in because of the weather and left the hotel around 7am. It was 9 degrees air temp, winds 20-30 from the NW and snowing wet heavy flakes.

We took a quick walk through our primary spot and found nothing. Fortunately we had scouted a large chunk of walk-in land last year and had a few ideas of where to hunt there. The 30 minute truck ride gave us time to warm up. When we got there the conditions were the same and we hadn't seen anything out in the fields. We decided to go for a walk without gear in order to scout. Our hopes were that we could cut some tracks and find a flock of birds.

After walking a couple miles we had nothing to show for it, but this stunning view and windburn.

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Fortunately it had finally stopped snowing. This was the last time we saw snowflakes. It did provide for a pretty landscape, but hardly what we were looking for in a SPRING turkey hunt. There wouldn't be any green leaves, morel hunting or blooming flowers. Only good news was there were no bugs either. Didn't need the thermacell for this hunt.

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After an hour or so of scouting we decided to head into the woods. After a bit we had finally cut a turkey track, and the best kind I might add.

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Seeing these strutter tracks really brought up our spirits. We had two choices. Follow the tracks where they went, or backtrack and see where they may be roosting. This decision set the course for the week and ended up having both positive and negative consequences.

We chose to backtrack and create a plan for the evening. This made things more exciting as we slowly found more and more tracks.

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We realized we were tracking quite the winter flock. There were several times we crossed areas where strutting could be observed so we knew there were toms in the group too.

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After following the tracks for more than a mile we found the roosting area. We decided to head out and get lunch and then come back and set up for the evening hunt. That night we all set up at some point along the travel corridor. My friend Dan was the farthest upstream from the roost and he had to pleasure of the entire flock passing within 10yds of his blind. He was not using a decoy so the birds just milled past him and a leisurely pace. Once a group of toms came through he picked one to fire at and hit that tom right where the neck and back meet with a Magnus bullhead. The bird jumped and ran away and only a single feather missing. Unfortunately we have this entire scene recorded in HD. The birds did not spook and he got another shot using a regular broadhead, but unfortunately he missed high. We recovered both arrows and neither one had blood or feathers.

The flock took a slightly different route to bed and the reast of us didn't see them. We did know where they went though, right where we found the roost earlier. If they followed the script we would have a good morning.

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In the morning it was only slightly warmer, but the wind had stopped and the skies were clear. It was a loud morning with more than 100 birds roosted nearby. A group of toms was roosted in a different spot than the other and had been gobbling hard all morning. After a long silence, a tom gobbled so close I nearly fell out of my chair. They were only 20yds away. As they came down the hill they skirted me at 20yds but remained behind the brush. They paid little attention to my calling or my decoy. They were on a mission to meet the large flock.

I got to watch them strut together for at least 5 minutes before the main flock finally joined them. Once they did the birds turned and started heading up the hill like we thought they would. Once this happened that group of three toms came right up yesterdays trail. I thought they would pass by at 7-10yds, but instead they turned 90* right towards me and walked up to the decoy. The three toms surrounded my Best Turkey Decoy jake and started to chest bump it as a group. It kinda reminded me of the scene during the movie "Night at the Roxbury". I now had more than 100 birds within 50yds and these three toms at 5yds. I drew back and waited for one of them to stop moving long enough for a headshot. Finally I picked the middle bird and aimed just below his bright white head.

As the arrow with a Magnus Bullhead 125 hit the turkey the only thing I can remember is watching the head of the turkey do a couple flips in the air. I had gotten a full decapitation on my first shot! The birds didn't scatter much so I tried for a second bird since I had two tags. The birds didn't like the extra movement in the blind and they moved away before I could get another shot. That being said, its kind of hard for 100+ birds to scatter so they mill about for a while.

The most amazing feeling ever was getting to put my hands on my first turkey with the bow. It was only 8am! I took a few pictures then hid my bird behind the blind and hoped for another opportunity.

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We hunted the next few days with mixed results. My friend Jesse shot a bird with the bullhead and somehow also only pruned a feather from that bird. After watching other birds in the area he decided to change spots and was able to tag a merriams jake that evening.

The next day I set up in the same spot, but the birds roosted in a different area. After listening to them for a couple hours I decided it was time to hike towards them and see where they were going all day. I quickly found a deep ravine where they were strutting and jockeying for position. There were tom fights, hen fights, strutting and all sorts of other turkey behavior. I stalked to within 50yds of the birds before I got pinned down behind an oak tree, halfway down a hill. I got two toms within 20yds but they were behind a downed tree. I had placed my jake decoy on the ground in front of me and was pushing it with a stick to try and get some attention. This valley just happened to be the same valley where we had cut the turkey tracks in the snow just days earlier.

We spent the next few days trying to follow these birds. We chased them from behind several times and they always went to the same place. If we had been thinking on day 1 we would've found out where the birds went every day and we wouldn't had a few more chances.

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I did have one humbling hunting lesson and it came on thursday morning. I had set up in the same valley I had stalked the day before. I found the trail the birds were using. It looked more like a cattle trail but I watched the turkeys use it more than once.

I set up in the spot in the dark and went without a decoy as they had shown some nervousness about it. All of the flock came through that draw like clockwork. Again a group of 3 toms were working a group of hens. I actually got to watch as a tom bred a hen in the group. As they moved on, a tom walked within 2yds of my blind! I could count the hairs on his head. He was the same size as the one I shot and the two following were larger and one had the white accents of a merriams. I decided to pass and cursed myself for doing it the entire time.

Instead of following the same line, the two birds skirted around me and passed in front almost 20yds away and behind some down trees. I did shoot and my arrow hit a branch. Spooked a little they moved along a little quicker. I nocked another arrow and took aim. I fired and did hit the bird, but I hit him in the back half of the body. He ran off to one side then doubled back and looked just fine. When I got out of the blind I found one arrow with a broken head and the other one had feathers on it, but no blood. All I recovered was a lone tail feather.

That tail feather is my reminder of the time I got greedy. I think of myself as a respectful meat hunter and up until those two misses, I had gone 5/5 when shooting at game with my bow. I could've easily taken the first tom, but I passed to take a trophy instead of taking a meal.

A third bird was taken by a guy in our group. That jake gave us quite the run. After getting a pass thru with a Rage Extreme the jake flew off. We came back after lunch and found him piled up. As soon as we approached and he tried to get away again. Fortunately we were faster than him and were able to knock him down before he got away. One leg was nearly detached at the hip and his guts were hanging out. Using a standard broadhead, even a 2"+ cut doesn't make it any easier.

All in all we took 3 birds with 9 shots and we saw turkeys every day we hunted. Not too bad for early bow season out of state. I hope to get back before the end of May to try and fill my last tag.

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Powerstroke great story and pics. I'm just curious...on Wednesday the 27th did you or one of your buddies walk in on a guy in the dark who was already set up?

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Nope that was my cousin who lives a couple of houses up from me. I was reading your story and it started to sound a lot like what my cousin had said. He didn't get a turkey that day but has done very, very well in that spot and he will get one when shotgun season starts. Between the spring and fall state and Indian reservation seasons he shot seven of them down there last year including one with the crossbow. Being an old Vietnam vet he don't mind sitting in the dark and it's just nuts how early he will get up to get a spot. I'll let him know you guys shot a few birds.

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I think D.K. should have had 2 tom's with his crossbow that day but couldnt get the bow strung up fast enough to shoot the other! Think he has to use a accu draw to string it..

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Good job Andy! Thanks for taking the time to share.

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I'm not a bow hunter or turkey hunter, but I still found this story entertaining. Congratulations. I think you earned it.

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Congrats Andy!

Your story just gets me pumped up all that much more especially with the pics.

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I'm glad you all appreciate the story and the pics. The pics were tough to come by because of the cold. None of the video cameras would work in the morning because it was so cold. My cell phone had been inside my bibs so it provided most of the pics and video.

123 - it was interesting running into your neighbor. In fact everyone we ran into down there was from MN.

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