Spring turkey hunting season is a wonderful time of the year, although this
wary bird is no easy target. Consider they have eyes on the sides of their
head, allowing them to see almost completely behind them, and they see color.
Then, we must also remember they are a skittish sort. They consider everything
a predator and do not stick around to find out whether they are correct or not!
So, how in the world does anyone ever tag the elusive wild turkey? Please read
Wild turkeys are very vocal. Hens converse amongst themselves as well as to
the gobblers. Sounds they make depend upon who they are talking to. In other
words, a hen may be yelping and clucking as they are feeding to let all the
other turkeys know they are content in their current location. Alternatively, a
hen may be letting another hen know she is in control and is serious. She is
the boss hen that will do the breeding and you had better not mess with her!
Other sounds made by hens include submissive talk. Young hens (jennies) are not concerned with breeding; they just do not
want to be left alone. They will gently cluck and purr so as to not upset the
boss hen and start a fight. Hens get into some nasty fights, just as gobblers
do when the breeding is going strong. Moreover, when two hens fight, they
really ramp up their vocalization with fighting purrs. With all that said, you
can see why no one call will work every time on every bird.
My vest always contains slate, friction, box, and locator calls. When one
call does not work, I will try something different. I remember one hunt in
particular. My husband John and I knew the exact location of a roosted gobbler.
We got to our location long before first light, waiting for sunrise. Daylight
came and the bird never said a word. We made the decision to sit down and call.
However, when John attempted to sit, his water bottle ended up under his
cushion. Needless to say, it made a very strange
crunch. The longbeard wasted no time in gobbling to
the unusual sound! That's not to say you want to sit on your water bottle, but
it proves you just never know what sound will prompt a gobble!
When a tom is on the ground and accompanied by hens, you have to be able to
call in the hen and hope the gobbler tags along. Listen to her talk and follow
suit. Just remember, though, if you are dealing with a boss hen, she may turn
and leave with her tom if she thinks you are a threat. You want to sound like a
sweet jenny and avoid the sounds of a raspy, old hen.
On the flipside, there have been times when a boss hen has heard gentle
calling and does not care if that jenny wants company or not. The boss hen just
continues on her way and you can join if you like. Sounding like a boss hen
that is looking for a fight may be just the call to bring her in -- fighting
John includes diaphragms along with other calls in his vest. He can imitate
the sound of a raspy old boss hen perfectly by using a diaphragm. Many of the longbeards he has taken came into gun range after hearing
the sounds resonating from his mouth. However, that is not to say they always
John and I frequently turkey hunt together and have used the double-team
tactic to get an obstinate bird to cross that imaginary line. The shooter sits
approximately 25 yards in front of the caller. If one call does not budge the turkey, try a different call.
As mentioned previously, turkeys can see very well and they see in color. We
already know that gloves and face masks play an important role in hiding the
turkey hunter. However, make certain you choose those that are best for you and
hunting. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a gobbler almost
in range and have something go wrong due to equipment. He won't be curious --
he will run!
I recall one occasion when a beautiful longbeard
came into range. When I attempted to flip the safety off my gun, it made a
"pop" thanks to the extra heavy gloves I wore. Unfortunately, he was gone
before I could squeeze the trigger. I vowed that day to never wear those gloves
again. Instead, I learned from my horrible mistake and now wear lightweight
Under Armour gloves that make it easy to feel the safety.
So, we now have all our gear and are ready to go. Calls are neatly packed in
their places along with strikers and sandpaper. Mask and gloves are in pockets
that are easily accessible. All we need to do now is remember to pick up all
our stuff when we move from one location to another. However, that is another
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