Time to think about getting ready for the spring turkey season | Sports

Well, Mother Nature has brought winter back again. This has many people wondering how this might impact the spring turkey season. I’m actually more concerned about the goose that was found at Holmes Lake in Lincoln this week that tested positive for H5N1 avian flu. Do you remember this virus? I am particularly concerned about an outbreak of the H5N1 virus during a migration period like the one we are currently experiencing and the number of millions of birds that are in Nebraska and in close proximity to each other. I will keep watching this one.

Back to the turkeys… winter and snow will have very little impact on the turkeys in their daily routines. Turkeys are native to the plains and know how to handle the weather. A blizzard may cause them to hide for about a day in sheltered areas, but they will be out and foraging for food as soon as the sun returns.

The winter herds are now splitting up, and the gobblers are already beginning their fight for breeding rights. I have already seen a dozen toms in full exhib, defying swallowing and fighting physically. It’s time to get ready for the spring turkey season.

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Look at your calendar… we are about three weeks away from the spring turkey season which opens on March 25th. The archers are the first on the field. Official shooting times are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. I bought a crossbow last year at an auction, so I might have to tune it up and have it ready for March 25th. Youth season begins April 9 and all shotgun hunters can begin hunting April 16.

With so much to do in your daily life, many hunters feel a bit rushed as a season approaches. That’s why I put this particular together. I know most hunters struggle to set aside enough time to prepare for the season. This column is your wake up call to start preparing and I’ve included a kind of checklist to help you make sure you get everything you need.

• You need a turkey license. You can go online or buy them at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on State Farm Road. The cost of a permit is $30 for residents and $128 for non-residents. There are special $8 permits for young hunters. You will also need a habitat stamp which costs $25

• You need a place to hunt. There is a public hunting ground in the area, and most public lands have good turkey populations, but most turkey hunting takes place on private property. You need permission to hunt on private property. Have you secured this? If not, it’s time to start knocking on doors

• You need camouflage clothing (unless you are using a ground blind). Turkeys are very good at picking up movement and anything that doesn’t belong in their environment. Camouflage pants, jacket, gloves, hat and a face mask or net can help…but you still need to stay seated! If you’re using a floor shade, it should look like it belongs there. The pattern on the fabric of the awning must resemble the vegetation where you are installed

• You must have your turkey calls ready to go to the field. Whichever turkey call you prefer and with which you can make realistic turkey calls will work great. I always suggest hunters carry at least two calls. You need a backup if your main call is interrupted. I also believe that turkeys can recognize individual voices just like us. Every once in a while you can get a tom in and it stops and doesn’t seem to come any closer. A lot of times going to the second call and letting that tom hear something different is often what it takes to get him in range

• Do you carry/use decoys? It all depends on where and how you hunt. If you must walk somehow, keep your load light. A few lures can do the trick. If you have a hard bodied lure don’t let them hit anything they sound like a drum

• A turkey vest is something to consider. Do you absolutely need it… no. Do they facilitate the transport of equipment to/from the field… Yes, of course. I like a vest with lots of pockets for calls and miscellaneous items, a place to carry a few lures, and a flip-up seat to keep your butt dry. Staying dry can be a real problem in the spring

• Make sure your cell phone is charged and keep track of where you have a signal. All it takes is one small misstep or one fall to break an ankle or worse. This is possibly the best security item you can have with you.

Good luck with your hunts this spring!

Sharon P. Juarez