LODGING REVIEW ON:
Pine Street Cabin
Part 1:THE HUNT
Turkey Hunting The Nebraska National Forest
By Dan Wennerlind
Even though it is getting harder and harder every year to find a quality place to turkey hunt, without paying an arm and a leg, once in a while you stumble across a little gem.
This spring HTN field Pro-Staffer Kenny Kunz and myself booked a 3 day reservation with host Julia Rhoades-Carr to stay at the cozy Pine Street Cabin located just minutes from the 90,000 acre Nebraska National Forest outside of the small town of Halsey, NE.
We arrived the day before the Nebraska spring turkey hunting opener to give us time to get settled in and scout for a full day before the opener, being it was our first trip to the Halsey area.
Upon arrival we found the Pine Street Cabin to offer a great opportunity to not only get away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday city life and “unplug” for a few days, but also to enjoy all of the
little details taken care of by our host Julia that helps make a trip a success- from having all of the kitchen utensils and cooking accessories available, to having an area map and set of current turkey hunting regulations already set aside for us, to the point of having Julia personally stopping by the first night to meet us and drop off a dozen farm fresh eggs for our morning breakfast. Talk about hospitality!
Less than 2 hours into our first day’s scouting mission in the public hunting grounds that make up the Nebraska National Forest, we had 3 prime locations already locked into Kenny’s GPS navigation system, with one big strutting Tom that kept us both excited for the next day’s opener!
A few short hours later we were overlooking the roost tree with that big Tom and his harem of hens. Since we were not able to put the birds to bed the night before, we did not know exactly where they were roosting and almost stumbled on top of them. We ended up setting up only 50 yards away from the roost tree, which was a little closer than we would have liked, but we were able to tuck into a nice little cedar bush which gave us a great place to hide, as we awaited the birds to hit the ground. We listened to the birds gobble and cluck for about 45 minutes before the first two hens decided to fly down from their “Home Tree”. They slowly meandered off over the hill behind us. Then two more hens flew down and joined the first two. Finally the big gobbler, who couldn’t take it any longer, flew down to make his presence felt.
Unfortunately he elected to follow his group of hens over the hill, without giving our gal a second look. We patiently waited for another hour for any of the other Toms in the area to come out of the thick forest before deciding to pick up and make a move.
Being that we were hunting public grounds, we experienced our ups and downs early. Although another group of hunters had taken over our number 2 spot, we still had over 80,000 acres available for our hunt. Keeping in mind only about 1/2 of that land is actually quality turkey habitat, still offering more ground than we could ever cover during our 3 day hunt.
It turned out to be a very peaceful morning as we hiked through the mature pine forest in search of our next Tom. In fact we did not run into another group of hunters that entire day. Although we were unable to find another receptive gobbler that morning, it was sure nice to have a comfortable place waiting for us just a few miles away for a much needed afternoon lunch and nap.
That afternoon we had another close encounter with a nice mature Tom, with his two hens. Unfortunately as “Murphy’s Law” would have it, the minute we got ready to make a move we got busted by one of the hens. A typical day in the life of a turkey hunter!
Driving across the region earlier that afternoon we saw more and more Merriam Gobblers in full strut then most hunters see in an entire season. Although many of those birds were on private grounds, outside of the public hunting grounds of the National Forest, it was very evident that we were in the heart of turkey country!
Finally it happened and I was able to connect on a big Nebraska Tom! Hearts were racing and High Fives were flying as the big gobbler thrashed around on the ground in front of us. This guy showed up out of nowhere, following his harem of 5 hens and gave me a chance that I was not going to pass up. With a clean 40 yard shot I connected- What a Thrill!
As we wrapped up the hunt on Sunday morning, Kenny had two more opportunities to “cat and mouse” a couple Jakes but with the wind howling and the rain coming down, the birds were really skittish and they gave us the slip.
Even though we did run into several other groups of hunters during the second day of our trip, I would not consider the public hunting grounds near Halsey to be over hunted by any means, especially for being opening weekend. We did have to put our time in to scout the area for a full day prior to the hunt, but what a great resource to have available to anyone with a little experience and gumption to get out of the truck and actually work a little bit for the hunt.
The fact that we did not have to rely on getting permission to hunt from a private land owner and could literally get out and hunt at any point in time, wherever we saw birds on the ground, along with the fact that we had a very cozy and comfortable cabin for our lodging and meals a few short miles away made for a great combination and a great trip for the do-it-yourself turkey hunter!
Part 2: THE REVIEW
After spending close to 3 days in the Nebraska National Forest, as well as at the Pine Street Cabin, overall the two seem to be a great fit for each other. We both felt that having the ability to book a stay at a cozy little cabin with all the comforts of home, minus the tv, that close to a great public resource full of turkeys was an excellent opportunity to get out and experience a very low impact do-it-yourself spring turkey hunt.
The positive aspects of the trip overall were:
We had a great place to stay with an exceptional host within 10 minutes of the National Forest
We did not have to worry about getting permission as the entire forest is open to public hunting
After a few short hours of scouting the first morning we were able to locate several good hunting locations with Jakes and Toms readily available
We also felt this would be a great location for a fall Mule deer hunt on public hunting grounds as well
The down sides of the trip overall were:
The Pine Street Cabin is located fairly close to a set of active train tracks which was a minor problem the first night until Julia brought over a box fan for background noise
There are always going to be other hunters in the area being that the Forest is open to public hunting
Although we saw numerous Jakes during our hunt, the Toms were a little harder to come by and thus took some active scouting and preparation
Overall the positive aspects of the overall trip and the hunt far outweighed the negative aspects and we had a great hunting experience. We feel that this is a place we would return and would recommend to other experience turkey hunters looking for an easy, low impact place to hunt spring turkeys in Nebraska.
Part 3: Booking Information
Contact Information For The Pine Street Cabin
Host: Julia Carr-Rhoades
Address: 804 Pine Street Halsey, Nebraska
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