2015 Nebraska Turkey Hunt: Day 3 – Will the Luck continue?

After celebrating Lily’s first harvest back at camp with a late dinner and much laughter, we all succumbed to the reality that morning would likely come too soon. That was in fact the case, when at 4:15 a.m., we awoke again. The kids managed to not show function until almost an hour later, which was by design. A hunting trip can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and six hours of sleep is certainly not enough for the busy bodies they are, especially with how strong they go all day long.

We started our morning back at our first-day setup, hoping this would provide more action. As we walked up to our Xenek blind in the dark, the sounds of silence broke in the roost trees less than 75 yards from our shelter. The turkeys were right there, roosted almost too close for comfort and security. Using extra caution, we got into the blind and waited for the morning fly down, feeling overly anxious about filling the last youth tag right at dawn.

As the first of five Toms flew down, we watched one, then all of them, pass by our decoy setup at over 50 yards. The birds continued down the drainage where we walked in. They had zero interest in stopping to check our decoys; or better yet, stopping to give Gus a shot. To say we all were bummed would be an understatement. I could see the frustration and concern on his face, knowing the fly-down and moments around sunrise are often the very best, the primetime, for turkey hunting.

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Rather that sitting until late-morning, we changed from black to Kings camo, gathered our gear, and decided to go mobile. The strategy was pretty simple, work our way along the pasture glassing every so often, calling now and again, hoping we would locate some birds and could execute a plan to cut them off.

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After hiking for slightly more than a mile with our Tenzing packs and weapons in tow, I found it interesting how my two adventurous kids had passed off most of the weight they wanted to bring along to me. I was happy to know that often the advice I share resonates as Lily said, “I should have listened to you Dad and left this heavy pack at the blind.” We hitched a ride back to our blind in the Polaris Ranger, providing some additional excitement for the kids with a water crossing, stuck ATV and some wet feet. Good thing we have extra Farm To Feet merino with!

We connected with Ashley and Jesse back at camp for our quick mid-day break as we enjoyed lunch. They had some good sightings on their morning hunt, with a Tom that hung up just outside of effective range. There was no disappointment in their voices, as the Kurtenbachs know the meaning of being persistent.

Changing locations for our evening sit, we found ourselves in a very old “bunkhouse” positioned over a small little plot. The structure was appropriately called the Turkey Shack. It was a nice change from the pop-up blind as it was three times the size, providing extra room to spread out and a place for Lily to catch up on some rest.

As the evening progressed and our sightings were bleak, we again changed our strategy to go mobile. Brian, our guide and owner of Oak View, had located some birds headed to roost and our plan was to cut them off. Another water crossing, temporarily stuck ATV and kids with big smiles brought us to the point were we moved in on foot.

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Knowing we had to maintain as much stealth as possible, I let Gus go ahead with Brian and Adam to capture it all on film. This was the first time in my life I’ve let Gus experience the hunt without me whispering in his ear. The first time when I knew deep down it was “ok” for him to go without Dad, and continue on the path as a hunter. I also knew he was in very good hands.

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As they came back to drop point, where Lily and I enjoyed some time together, we heard the story from Gus, Brian and Adam. After almost two hours of stalking quietly they made a truly valiant effort and found themselves in the birds. Gus had a very quick opportunity on a Tom at around 12 yards, yet decided the shot was just not right and he passed. Even though he is very motivated to match his sister, he did not take a poor shot, knowing it may be his last chance in Nebraska. I could see not only the physical strain but also the emotional disappointment in Gus not getting an opportunity or harvesting a Tom.

As we drove back to camp late, after a long day, Gus asked if he could simply just get ready for bed and crash. It was at this point that I knew the two days had caught up with them both. We discussed not hunting in the morning (our last day) and he was very adamant we give it one more try.

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Author Details

Jeremy Elbert

I grew up enjoying the sport of hunting and have truly come to fully appreciate every aspect of the hunt…leading up to the kill. The show has taken me to some amazing destinations where I have met some wonderful people, places where I now visit on a regular basis.

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