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Southwest Nebraska turkey question
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
Woodsmaster 12-Feb-17
midwest 12-Feb-17
cnelk 12-Feb-17
Woodsmaster 12-Feb-17
Paul@thefort 12-Feb-17
Deertick 12-Feb-17
Woodsmaster 13-Feb-17
Eagle_eye_Andy 14-Feb-17
drycreek 14-Feb-17
cnelk 14-Feb-17
Paul@thefort 14-Feb-17
Old School 14-Feb-17
midwest 14-Feb-17
writer 14-Feb-17
Scrappy 14-Feb-17
Paul@thefort 14-Feb-17
writer 15-Feb-17
jims 15-Feb-17
Paul@thefort 15-Feb-17
writer 15-Feb-17
Old School 15-Feb-17
jims 16-Feb-17
Old School 16-Feb-17
writer 17-Feb-17
jims 17-Feb-17
ScottParson 17-Feb-17
writer 17-Feb-17
Woodsmaster 24-Feb-17
mennste 25-Feb-17
Timbrhuntr 25-Feb-17
bud 25-Feb-17
writer 28-Feb-17
Paul@thefort 28-Feb-17
writer 01-Mar-17
bud 03-Mar-17
writer 04-Mar-17
lineman21 05-Mar-17
From: Woodsmaster
12-Feb-17
I was just wondering if turkeys in SW Nebraska, specifically the Swanson lake WMA, Trenton area, are more likely to be Rio's or Merriam's? I've killed several Rio's and Easterns and would like to add a Merriam's. Any help would be appreciated.

From: midwest
12-Feb-17
You'll need to head north.

From: cnelk
12-Feb-17
Yep. NW Corner up by Crawford is good

BTW. Swanson SWA is HAMMERED with turkey hunters

From: Woodsmaster
12-Feb-17
Thanks for the input guys. Are there any Merriam's in the sandhills around longpine/ainsworth areas?

From: Paul@thefort
12-Feb-17

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
the toms in the middle is the Montrose mountain tom, the one on the right is from NW Nebraska and the remaining one is from western Nebraska on the Colorado line.
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
the toms in the middle is the Montrose mountain tom, the one on the right is from NW Nebraska and the remaining one is from western Nebraska on the Colorado line.
Here are three toms I killed two years ago and all three might look like Merriams because of the white on their tails and rumps. One was killed in NW Nebraska and was likely a Merriam as there is a small area there that claims the turkey are Merriams,, one on the Nebraska/Colorado line which is likely a Rio/Merriam cross, and one in the far west mountains of Colorado near Montrose which is a true Merriam..

From: Deertick
12-Feb-17
Go north to get into Merriams. I've shot them as far south and east as Broken Bow area, but I'd bet I'd get some arguments from some of the armchair biologists around here -- and I'd probably lose! If you're after a Mr. Merriam, head to the northwest.

From: Woodsmaster
13-Feb-17
So it looks like the Crawford area/Ponderosa WMA would be my best bet.

14-Feb-17
You likely won't find many pure merriams in the long pine ainsworth area but you will find gorgeous ponderosa canyons surrounded by Sandhills and a good population of bubblegum heads with a fair amount of pressure.

From: drycreek
14-Feb-17
Paul, those are beautiful birds ! If turkeys and geese had a post office, your picture would be on a wanted poster ! :)

From: cnelk
14-Feb-17
Rio or Merriam or Hybrid?

 photo AFAAA410-0B2C-49DC-93B9-A0DA16027C7C_zpsy58lcevj.png

From: Paul@thefort
14-Feb-17
Based on the vegetation around you, ie green grass, marsh grass and cottonwood trees I would guess that is from western Nebraska and then a hybrid. If shot north and east of Scottsbluff Neb, it might be considered a Merriams, but surely not a Rio.

From: Old School
14-Feb-17
Brad - I've got one that looks almost identical to that one. I shot it up in the NW corner of Nebraska. I always figured it was pure Merriams, but maybe not...

--Mitch

From: midwest
14-Feb-17

midwest's embedded Photo
midwest's embedded Photo
Loads of Nebraska fun!

From: writer
14-Feb-17
If you want pure Merriam's you'll have to head up into the mountains, and hope. Good or bad, our birds have hybridized all through the prairies. I've seen what some would call "pure" Rio, eastern and Merriam's in the same fall brood. Turkeys don't stop this side or that side of town when they expand. Pulling a "Slam" should be more about hunting in the different habitats - eastern big woods, Rio arid prairies, Osceola's amid the swamps and orange groves and Merriam's in the ponderosa pine country. I wouldn't trade some of the birds in the Wyoming and New Mexico high country for ten birds down on the prairie.

From: Scrappy
14-Feb-17

Scrappy's embedded Photo
Scrappy's embedded Photo
Got this in one in the middle of Nebraska. Bad thing about Nebraska as a non resident they will sell you up to three turkey tag at around 90 bucks each. Was having a blast a few years ago but was getting expensive.

From: Paul@thefort
14-Feb-17

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Here is a "pure" Merriams killed in far western Colorado in the mountans. I had just shot his buddy but he still came back to look at the decoys.

From: writer
15-Feb-17
Yep, Paul...that's what I think of when I think of Merriam's turkeys. A lot of white, but it seems to cover more of the "saddle" feathers than other species. The live bird in your pick has white tips almost half-way down the back. Must have been a great hunt, up in that country.

From: jims
15-Feb-17
The grass is always greener! Those white feathers sure are gorgeous but it's always exciting hunting something new! I look forward to hunting true Rios and Easterns one of these days! Nebraska seems to be the melting pot for turkeys. I've harvested toms with white and others with cream feathers. I'm sure they are all likely crosses where I've hunted in Nebraska.

From: Paul@thefort
15-Feb-17

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
here is another Merriam killed the year before in the same location.

From: writer
15-Feb-17
Most of Kansas is hybrids, and they're all fun. Concentrate more on habitats than feather color.

A good hunt for easterns in the big woods of the Ozarks is pretty classic, too.

From: Old School
15-Feb-17
Ozark turkeys in the big woods are indeed great - and right out my backdoor.

Merriams out west though were a blast as well. Never had birds gobble like they did. One day I'll go back and chase them again.

--Mitch

From: jims
16-Feb-17
Old School, The merriams where I hunt them in the mtns here in Colo are incredibly quiet! There are bobcats, mtn lions, coyotes, and bears that will make a quick meal of them if they make much noise! There's a lot of country with few turkeys so it often is a challenge trying to locate them...especially on public land! When they are quiet it makes it even tougher.

From: Old School
16-Feb-17
Jims - yes we would have been quite a ways east of you when we hunted western Nebraska.

It's amazing here how the gobbling can vary from morning to morning. I can go out one morning and hear at least a dozen gobblers and the next morning not a one. Definitely a lot more of a challenge killing silent birds. I don't think I've ever seen a turkey while elk hunting in Colorado and I know I've hunted counties where they exist.

From: writer
17-Feb-17
Every place has a lot of predators after turkeys from the day they're laid as an egg until they die from, hopefully, my arrow. Generally the thicker the cover, the less vocal and more spooky the birds. You think you now quiet and tough, but head to the big woods of some place like 'Bama or Mississippi and try it, especially on public. I've seen a lot of southern boys head to other places and kick the crap out of "hard" turkeys. Never seen a guy from the plains or the mountains school those rednecks in Dixie, though.

From: jims
17-Feb-17
I've seen the same thing with silent toms in Nebraska....and it's relatively open country. Sometimes it's a matter of season timing and what's going on with the turkeys. Other times it's a matter of how hard the wind is blowing. The wind usually howls where I hunt in Nebraska and the turkeys generally are quiet when it's blowing.

From: ScottParson
17-Feb-17

ScottParson's embedded Photo
ScottParson's embedded Photo
There are birds on Ft Robinson and you can hunt them......there are several areas around Crawford and Chadron has a huge amount of area to hunt. If you go early before they break up you better look for some choice bottomland with crops or be ready to burn some bootleather chasing birds that move a lot when they fly down.

From: writer
17-Feb-17
Jims...go hunt a dozen or so states, from Florida to California. You'll understand it better. What you consider to be "tough," isn't for guys who've mastered birds back east and south.

From: Woodsmaster
24-Feb-17
Well I am heading to North West Nebraska for the bow season opener. I'd like to wait a little longer but I have buddies coming to hunt with me in Kansas so that's when I have to go. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

From: mennste
25-Feb-17

mennste's embedded Photo
Here is a Merriam's from near Devil's Tower, WY. Wish I was going back; as it has been a few years!
mennste's embedded Photo
Here is a Merriam's from near Devil's Tower, WY. Wish I was going back; as it has been a few years!

From: Timbrhuntr
25-Feb-17
White tipped feathers doesn't necessarily mean it's a true Merriam's. Most true Merriam's have a buff color ! True Merriam's have wider tip bands on the tail feathers and the chest feathers are usually darker and don't show the bronze iridescence like a Rio

From: bud
25-Feb-17
Love your pictures Paul. Not trying to derail thread. I have permission to hunt private land around Tecumseh NE. I need a Rio. Killed Eastern and Mariams with bow. What are the chances of true Rio here. I will be working,there when season opens in NE March 25th.

From: writer
28-Feb-17
Pretty slim for Rios that far east, Bud, at leas as per what's directly below you in Kansas. Probably Rio/eastern hybrids, heavy on the easterns. If you want pure Rio, you'd be better going to Texas or southwestern Oklahoma. That' more typical Rio habitat, anyway. When we were heading west 30 years ago, before populations got diluted, the Merriam's we shot in NM, CO, WY and the Black Hills were heavily white on the saddle and fan, and the those bands were wider than on most birds.

From: Paul@thefort
28-Feb-17
Bud, I X2 what Writer stated. I have also explored the possibility of hunting a true Rio and was recommended to hunt SW Oklahoma and also later in the season with less hunters and when the bird have broken up and scattered.

From: writer
01-Mar-17
I keep saying it, Paul. A turkey is a turkey is a turkey. The differences in the sub-species is because of terrain and hunting pressure. You can handle any of them. Ideal, from what I've seen. Merriam's high in NM or CO, Rio in south Texas, Eastern in a big chunk of Missouri Ozarks and the Osceola in a swamp, downwind of an orange grove in full bloom.

From: bud
03-Mar-17
thanks writer and paul@fort I appreciate your knowledge and experience. I always had a desire to get a grand slam for turkey with a bow in the back of my mind. Didn't know exact range of species but heard a lot about inter breeding. Oh well I will be working in that area during turkey season and got some permission from coworker on his familys farm around Tecumseh. Pretty lucky. Sorry took so long to reply. One of these days going to get that slam....Thank You

From: writer
04-Mar-17
Have fun, Bud. Keep us posted. We don't hear much out of that corner of Nebraska. Take the Grand Slam in small bites. When my kids were young, I took them to one state (outside of Kansas) per spring until we got it done. That is one state, per child, so they each got a big trip every spring. I didn't take them at the same time. Bad luck in Florida meant we had to go back several spring breaks. There are worse things that can happen...

From: lineman21
05-Mar-17
Southwest Nebraska turkey report here. Unusually warm weather has toms broken off from winter groups already. They aren't far away but I'm seeing gobblers out and about roaming. Have been hearing gobbles up the creek in the morning and a little strutting. Bow opener could be fun if this warm weather persists. It is still March in Nebraska so one day it could be 80 degrees and the next could have snow up to your knees.

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