Would you Shoot a Bearded Hen?

When the alarm clock went off at 4 am I rushed quietly out of bed. Put my camo on, grabbed my gun and my lucky Cabela’s cap. Hopped in my beater truck because I new the 50 minute drive to my spot would be cutting it close to shooting time. After a half our into the drive I had hit the sad reality that I was going to be late. I arrived a little after legal shooting light to the first spot and headed to the field edge.

I sent a Kee kee run into the river bottom and within a instant heard a gobble in the distance. They were already on the ground I thought to myself, and close. I elected to pass on setting up decoys and plopped down beside a giant cottonwood tree. A series of cuts, and clucks later I caught movement in the corner of my eye. It was a coyote!

After the coyote ran off I knew the hunt for those gobblers was over. They wouldn’t respond again. I decided to move on to another part of the farm where I knew turkeys strut. Maybe I could catch a lonely tom before they would hit the fields. Half way between where I was headed, a lonely hen poked her head out of the bushes. She stood up started to run and then I noticed it. She had a beard. Instantly I raised my gun put the bead on the mark and pulled the trigger. She rolled. I walked up to my harvest, thanked the lord for the food she will provide my family and headed back to the truck. This was the first bearded hen I’ve harvested in my hunting career.

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Nebraska Merriam Hen

After taking a few photos I thought to myself. How rare is it to shoot a bearded hen? After digging into stats, and reading as many harvest reports as possible. Of the 4,509 Nebraska turkey hunters surveyed only 35 of them shot a bearded hen and 2 shot more than one bearded hen. I would say thats pretty rare. I don’t know that if the rareness of them is due to hunters not harvesting them for ethical reasons or if its just that rare. Would you harvest a bearded hen?

To see the Nebraska 2016 Turkey Harvest Survey click here.

Follow Compass Keeper on Instagram @Compasskeeper

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