Cornhusker Gobblers

In a remote draw in central Nebraska's Sand Hills, a Cabela's hunting catalog comes to life. It's base camp for a week of turkey hunting, and if you think wall tents and cast-iron cookware are reserved for elk camp, you need to spend some time in the spring with the hard-hunting, fun-loving boys from Cabela's. Cast-Iron Turkey Camp: There's no electricity in Cabela's turkey camp. All the cooking is done in cast iron over the open fire of a cookstove.
Mike Capps, marketing guru with hunt host Howard Communications, called this nice Nebraska Merriam's gobbler off the roost.
Cooking and dining is done in a large canvas mess tent. Smaller satellite tents are reserved for sleeping quarters.
The camp's trappings, from gleaming coffee pots and lanterns to propane stoves and cots, wear the venerable Cabela's brand.
Sandhills Scenic: The southern Sand Hills are dominated by tallgrass prairie studded with groves of juniper and cedar and hardwood draws. Classic turkey country, and the country is full of mule deer and whitetails, often sharing the same habitat. Similarly, subspecies of turkeys collide here. Most of the birds harvested here look like Merriam's, but we killed gobblers that look more like Easterns and at least one exhibited some Rio Grande highlights.
Turkey hunting is tough. The late, cool spring keeps hens flocked up with gobblers. Only toward the end of the week do we find unattended gobblers, like these five longbeards working a remote ridge.
Everyone in camp hangs their tag on a gobbler. The main mess tent is framed by a brace of Cornhuskers toms.
Henny Penny the inflatable decoy serves as camp mascot.
My first gobbler is a dandy 3-year-old with hooking spurs. I call him in one sunny afternoon on top of a tall grassy ridge.
If you're a turkey hunter, you're also a shed hunter. This remarkable whitetail shed with mass, length and trash (and a funky J-hooking kicker tine) was found on the property we hunted. We estimated its mass at more than 90 inches.
Hard to mistake the affiliation of this outfit. Randy White drove Hunters Specialties' "yellow schoolbus" from Iowa.
HS pro-staffer Rick White and I set up on this pair of gobblers and killed them both in a synchronized volley of Remington's Wingmaster HD 5-shot. Though they were killed side by side, notice the difference in coloration. My gobbler exhibits classic Merriam's white highlights. Rick's tom looks more like an Eastern bird.
Both White and I were amazed at the number of jakes cruising the hills. In one flock we spotted over 20 jakes, many of them strutting and gobbling just like 2-year-old toms.
My second gobbler. The southern Sand Hills are full of turkeys, but because the toms are still huddled up with hens, calling in a strutter was difficult. This gobbler had a single hen in attendance.
Adorning the centerpole of the mess tent was this big king salmon. "It's from the Loup River just over the hill," joked Cabela's David Draper, who eventually admitted the Alaskan king was salvaged from a Dumpster behind Cabela's mother ship in Sidney, Nebraska.
Proof of a productive day. Three of us hunters--myself, Rick White from Hunters Specialties and writer Travis Faulkner--are flanked by landowner Cory Peterson and outfitter Doug Stults.
End of the day. Each evening the mess hall is lit from within by blazing propane lanterns and the cheerful conversation of weary hunters.

Cabela's turkey camp is like stepping into a catalog.