The species of turkey in much of Nebraska are mixes – or hybrids – of the Rio Grande and Merriam species. This is unique to regions of Nebraska alone, as a very small area in the United States inhabits these hybrids. Rio Grande turkey hybrids, in the Nebraska spring, number in the hundreds in many regions, and begin moving into smaller flocks in February. Warmer weather influences the Rio Grande turkey – and their hybrids’ – flocks to begin expanding their territories. Usually in April , the territories expand farther, and Rio Grande turkeys can be found most anywhere, including in a lot of private land. Movement in the fall pushes some of the turkeys toward more wild habitats, but numbers are still good for a great Nebraska-style, Rio Grande turkey hunt!
You will enjoy hunting Nebraska, as it contains high populations of turkey, whether Rio Grande turkey or otherwise. It is common to see Rio Grande turkey in numbers of fifty or more, until later during the nesting period. Late-season Rio Grande turkey will number from individuals up to a flock of about ten, and males with eight-inch beards are also common. In the Nebraska hunting season of 2005, a tom Rio Grande turkey was taken with a 10.5-inch beard, and another on this same date had spurs measuring 1.25 inches! Toms easily weigh into the 20s, and 23-27 lb. birds are common.
All resident and non-resident hunters of Nebraska, regardless of age, must possess the proper permit. All permits will need to be purchased before arrival to Nebraska, as they cannot offer them on Rio Grande turkey-hunting premises. Non-resident permits for all ages are $91.00, and a $20.00 habitat stamp is also required for all Nebraska hunters, regardless of age.
More information and permits are available at the Nebraska Game & Parks website, at http://www.outdoornebraska.org Any hunter between the ages of 12 and 15 must be accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older. Spring Rio Grande turkey permit applications for both resident and nonresidents are available in January of any given year. There are an unlimited number of Nebraska permits available. Fall turkey permit applications for both resident and non-residents begin the second Monday in August. Closing or ending fall season dates are confirmed in July. For the Nebraska hunting season of 2012, a hunter may posses up to three Spring or two Fall turkey permits, using any combination for shotgun or archery Rio Grande turkey hunts. Now, all youth under the age of 16 may purchase a permit for $5.00, and Rio Grande turkey hens may be taken during the fall season.