Proven tactics in deploying turkey decoys

Nebraska’s spring turkey season is in full swing and the gobblers are strutting and trying to impress the hens. Look for feeding areas near field edges. Scratch marks are a good sign. Set up your blind and decoys in such a spot and your chances for success are pretty good. Good luck.

Nebraska’s spring shotgun turkey season is underway. All archers and all shotgunners can now be in the field until May 31. Good luck to everyone who is hunting turkeys this spring!

I’ve heard a few success stories, but I’ve also heard about the big ones that got away. Several emails have asked for tips on using turkey decoys. I read emails about two hunts where the hunter may have caused the hunt to fail because of the use of a gobbler decoy. So, here is a very quick, short-course on turkey decoys use.

Rule No. 1 – Use hen and jake decoys

In the spring, you are trying to capitalize on a mature gobbler’s sex drive and the annual mating ritual. Hens are what the gobblers are looking for, so hen decoys often work best. Jakes are young gobblers, but don’t pose a threat to the breeding Boss Gobbler. Decoys that look like partial strut or full strut toms can intimidate the Boss Gobbler in the area. He’s interested in breeding, not fighting and the strutting decoys convey a message that a challenge fight for territory is in the making.

Rule No. 2 – Place your decoys where the tom can see it

It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but make an effort to get your decoys set up so that it can be seen for a long way off. Make sure that you trim the vegetation around the decoys so that it can move and turn in the wind. You don’t want your decoys to hang up on sticks, twigs or grasses growing near it. Movement adds realism.

Rule No. 3 – Use your decoys as range markers

Don’t put your decoys any further away from your shooting position than you kill a turkey. You should have your shotgun patterned and sighted in and know, without a doubt, the distances you can shoot and make a clean kill. I normally set my first decoys out at 30 yards from my blind when using a 12 gauge. With a .410, that yardage is reduced to about 12 yards. Using decoys in this fashion can be a great help to new hunters who have not yet learned how to judge distances.

Rule No. 4 – Archers: Point your decoys toward your blind

This is a trick for archers. Set your decoy facing toward your blind. Most of the time, a gobbler will come in and walk so that he can look the decoy right in the eyes. This means the gobbler has his back to you and when he puffs up into a strut, he can’t see you. That’s when you draw your arrow. I’ve used this technique many times and it works well.

Bluegills

Springtime is bluegill fishing time in Nebraska. I had a reader ask me about fishing for the feisty sunfish and I thought it would be good time to cover the topic.

All you need to catch bluegill is a rod, reel and a body of water with some hungry fish. You don’t need fancy or expensive gear. A simple cane pole and bobber can keep you amused for hours. Bluegill fishing is a great way to get kids into the sport of fishing.

For bait, a few worms, crickets or any other bug can make great bluegill bait. If you want to use artificial lures, get some small jigs and crankbaits. Remember — small is the key. I often find people trying to fish for bluegill using lures with hooks too big for a bluegill to bite.

And after you have caught some nice bluegill, try this recipe:

Parmesan bluegill

Ingredients:

¼ cup melted butter

1 cup of cornbread mix

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon pepper

8-10 bluegill filets

Directions: Place butter in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, combine the cornbread mix, Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Dip the fish filets in butter and then coat with crumb/seasoning mixture. Place breaded filets in a medium greased baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Kearney gun show

If you are looking for a reason to road trip, head east to Kearney for the 21st annual gun show. April 27-28 are the dates. The Expo Center at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds is the place. Doors will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4. For more information, call Brent Johnson at 308-440-8177.

Unique press release

I thought this press release was quite different and a bit funny. Just imagine having these kinds of warnings from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission each spring.

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

The onset of warm weather in the spring is when Florida’s alligators and crocodiles start getting active, and the FWCC reminds everyone to be cautious when having fun in and around water.

Florida is home to two native crocodilians: the American alligator, which is found in all 67 counties, and the American crocodile, which may be found in coastal areas of the Keys, Southeast and Southwest Florida. The FWCC recommends keeping pets away from the water.