Spring Turkey Season Is Open Through May 21

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Nebraska's 2006 spring turkey hunting season is underway and despite nasty weather conditions in some areas during the first couple of weeks of the season, those who went hunting had some success, there are still large numbers of birds in most areas and there is still time for archers and shotgunners to collect a gobbler.

Anyone who lives in Nebraska will tell you to never depend on the weather and this spring has proven that point. Take the opening weekend of the spring turkey hunting season as an example. Hunters in the southern part of the state generally had good success, but high winds, rain and snow in northern Nebraska reduced the numbers of hunters during the first couple of weeks. Those who went hunting, however, reported seeing good numbers of turkeys and many have successfully harvested a turkey.

The good news is that both the archery and shotgun turkey seasons will remain open through May 21, so there is plenty of time for you and your youngster to get out and take a turkey. Hunters can have two turkey permits of any type for the spring season and take one bearded turkey on each permit.

Heres a rundown of how hunters across the state have done during the first two weeks of the season.

In the Panhandle, opening weekend was very windy and overall hunting pressure was light, but hunters who braved the wind said gobblers responded well to the call and hunting success was good. Reports indicate that hunting pressure was light to moderate after opening weekend, good numbers of turkeys were seen, some of the birds were splitting up, and the toms were gobbling in the mornings.

High winds also plagued hunters in the Northeast on opening day and a heavy rainstorm that night resulted in very light hunting pressure the entire weekend. However, the hunters who were out reported seeing good numbers of birds although they had a difficult time getting them to respond to a call. During the next week hunting improved considerably, with toms responding readily to calls and hunters having excellent success, especially in Custer, Blaine and Thomas counties.

Opening weekend in the Southwest resulted in hunters having very good success. Conservation officers reported lots of hunters, especially in Gosper, Lincoln, Dawson and Harlan counties and one officer said “There were turkeys everywhere!” All officers in the southwestern areas reported the number of turkeys was as high as they had ever seen. Hunters reported turkeys were roosting in large groups but the groups were breaking up during the day. Turkeys in the canyons southeast of North Platte and in the Wellfleet area were reported to be responding well to calling.

In south-central Nebraska the wind reached about 50 mph on opening weekend, but there were good numbers of hunters in the field and they reported seeing large numbers of birds, many of them gobblers. Hunters reported the birds were spreading out, moving away from river and creek drainages but seemed reluctant to respond to calling. After opening weekend, hunting pressure was light and hunters reported moderate success in Webster, Clay and Adams counties. Heavy hunting pressure on public land around Harlan County Lake resulted in the birds being shy, but hunters on private land in the area had better success. Turkey activity was increasing in Kearney and Buffalo counties with most gobbling activity occurring in the early mornings, but the birds were not responding well to calling.

In the Southeast, hunters reported seeing large numbers of birds during the opening weekend, but the toms were still bunched up with hens and didnt respond very well to calls. After opening weekend, conservation officers reported there was limited turkey hunting activity and little success in the Seward County area, but in Saunders, Sarpy and Douglas counties hunters had good success.

Although roughly 98 percent of the land in this state is privately owned, there are some 300 state and federal public areas encompassing about 800,000 acres where public hunting is allowed. There are also some 180,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program- Management Access Program (CRP-MAP) land where hunters may hunt private ground. The free CRP-MAP Atlas, which explains CRP-MAP and has maps showing the locations of lands enrolled in the program, is available at all NGPC offices, from permit vendors, and on the Commissions web site at www.outdoornebraska.org. In addition, many rural landowners will allow turkey hunting on their property, but it is imperative that the hunter receive the landowners permission before entering private land.

You must be at least 12 years old to hunt turkeys in Nebraska, and resident hunters 16 years old and older must purchase a Nebraska Habitat Stamp in addition to their turkey permit. All nonresident spring turkey hunters, regardless of age, must have a spring turkey hunting permit and a habitat stamp. A resident turkey permit is $21, a nonresident turkey permit costs $86, and a Nebraska Habitat Stamp is $13. They can be purchased online from the Commissions web site or at any Commission office.