Spring Turkey Series Part Four: Five Calling Techniques and Tips
As we wrap up the Spring Turkey Series, you have been getting your gear ready, dressing up the decoys, deciding on calls to use.
Now comes the work of pulling all this together with practice to call a turkey. You can find plenty of videos online showing how Tom the Grand Turkey Champion Caller worked calls on a stage. But winning a champion calling contest is not the goal of getting your spring turkey tag filled.
You can call from sunrise to sundown and think, dang, that sound is perfect; why are turkey not coming to me? You have to match the tone and cadence of a real turkey; that is the goal you are trying to reach when calling turkey. Use these five tips this spring to improve the response to your calling efforts.
- Set your Rhythm
Match cadence to the bird you are calling; each one is going to be a bit different. Adjust to the bird you are calling. Setting the rhythm with the bird is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears; too fast or too slow will turn them off, just right is what will get that turkey to come in for you.
- Set a Tone
If you have spent time in turkey woods listening to birds, you have realized that they all sound different. I have heard hens yelp so clear and smooth that it sounded like a recording on a Bose speaker. Then there are the times when a hen crackles out a sassy, raspy sound that would mimic a needle jumping across a vinyl album.
Here is where a mouth call shines; it allows you to set different tones to your calling. This is also why turkey hunters carry several calls with them. You can mix the sounds up with different types of calls.
Why is volume important? If you are too aggressive (loud), you will spook the bird to quiet, and the bird will not hear you. Your calling should start just like a volume control in your vehicle; start low and turn it up if you are not getting a response. Turkey do plenty of clucking, clucking, and soft yelping when they can see each other.
If you set up within close range of birds and start calling as if Ted Nugent is playing a concert, you will chase those birds right out of the area. It is always best to start soft and turn the volume up as needed. Wait 15 minutes between your calling sessions to turn the volume up. It could make the difference in a gobbler hearing you from the next ridge or not.
- Get in the Zone
You hear a turkey gobble; excitement sets in! You think I have to stop here, get set up so that you do not mess things up. Turkey can be stubborn and only want to go to their strut zones or in spots where they feel comfortable strutting for hens.
If you are near that zone, it can be challenging to pull them away from their zone. This is where scouting and knowing some of their patterns is helpful. When you hear that gobble, wait a little bit to see what direction the bird is heading and put together a plan to get in that zone. This is where the chess match of the sport kicks in. Try to cut the tom off as he heads to his zone or get to the zone before he does and wait for him to show up. Scouting will help you become the chess master of this game.
- Cut your losses
Some birds just are not hunt-able. When you can identify that, move onto birds that are going improve your odds. It took me a few seasons to learn this lesson the hard way. I found a flock of turkey on a piece of public land bordering private woods. I have spent more hours than I care to admit trying to pursue these birds. I swear these birds have learned how to read the public land signs scattered on the boundary and never come within 20 yards of those signs. During my off-seasons, though, I use this area as training grounds for calling and observing to learn more about the birds.
Someday you may get lucky enough to harvest a bird in an area like this, and it would be rewarding to do so, but if you are looking to have success, find birds that are responsive to your calling, and you know you can move them into an area you can hunt them.
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
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