TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS: “Tag Them” – Part 3 of 3

  • Read the Bird, Listen to his Gobble
  • Understanding Gobble Talk and RESPONDING, or NOT
  • Over-Yelping, Biggest Secret to a Wise Old Bird
Some of the biggest turkey can be fooled with one simple trick that you can learn, see below. Jim Monteleone Photo

By Jim Monteleone

You can read a bird by listening to his gobble and I want to explain the different types of gobbles that you might hear.

A “volunteer gobble” is one where the bird gobbles on his own. Generally that means he is searching for a hen.  If all is quiet you use an owl hooter before good light or a crow call at first light to elicit a gobble. You Tube has examples of owls hooting and crows calling if you need to hear the realistic sounds of either or both.

If he gobbles it’s a “shock gobble” and you are ready to do business when he hits the ground.  You can tell when he has come out of the tree by hearing wing beats or when his clear gobble becomes muffled by the trees and brush. 

A “strutting gobble “is when the bird gobbles repeatedly to your calls but seems stuck or only moving ten or twelve feet and never gets closer.  He is in a strut zone and nature is telling him the hen will come to him when he displays.  In the natural order of things this happens every season.  This is especially true when he has already been breeding receptive hens.  

A “going-away gobble” is when he gobbles frequently and you can tell he’s moving away.  He probably has been joined by a real hen who will lead him to her territory.  You might as well look for another bird or you can wait him out, but it’s going to be a while.

The “come here gobble” is when he gobbles every time you call.  Don’t be fooled.  Go silent on him and make him gobble on his own several (two or three) times before calling again. I call this a “breeding gobble.”  Repeat the same calling sequences and alternate some clucks and purrs with your yelping.  If he stops coming, start cutting if you are well hidden or blending in and have a hen decoy (or hen and jake in the early season), then you’re in business.

If he is cutting your calling sequence off with a gobble or a double gobble before you finish he’s committed to coming.  I call that a “hot gobble.”

No sudden moves and try to restrain yourself from over-calling.  I use only clucks and purrs for the last fifty yards of his approach to gun range. This is where a diaphragm mouth call is my go-to tactic.  A slate or “pot” call is my second choice in avoiding too much hand movement. Patience is your greatest weapon, other than your shotgun now!

Without any doubt my greatest success and most exhilarating hunts have come after a prolonged sequence of back and forth calling.  My nature is not one of great patience, but turkey hunting has taught me to work to lure turkeys in with sweet talk.  Over-calling causes a bird to stay put, and as fired-up as he and you can be.  Slow and steady is the best advice I can offer.

There are those times when a bird will rush in, but this isn’t the norm for mature birds. They have experience in gathering hens and also instinctively seem to know when something is unnatural.

If you follow the earlier tips, knowing the bird is closing the distance and your gun is on your knee waiting, watching and calling sparingly increases your odds dramatically.

There are those times when a bird will rush in, but this isn’t the norm for mature birds. Read what to do. Joe Forma Photo

I use two “secret” tactics for my toughest birds.  The first is yelping over a gobbler when he tries to gobble. As soon as the first note comes out of his beak I cut him off with some fast yelping or cutting.  Do this after you have him fired up if he stalls.

The other “secret” is the mock challenge of two hens cutting at each other.  It simulates the scene of two hens sparring for dominance over the right to breed in the territory.  I use one box or slate call and a mouth call, and cut like two girls arguing.  I do some alternating cuts on each call or some cuts like they are trying to “yell” over each other simultaneously.

I hope there’s something in here for hunters from “newbies” to veterans with decades of experience. Think safety in every move you make and never take chances.

You now have the “secrets” and you’re ready to experience. 

Good Hunting and Great Memories!

      

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS: CALL THEM – Part 2 of 3

  • Learn the Language of Turkey Talk
  • Clucking, Yelping, Cutting, Cackling and more
  • Realism, Patience, Sounds and Tones

By Jim Monteleone

Try to learn with as many calls as possible, there are box calls, pot calls, tube calls and mouth calls (the most effective).

A lot of folks believe that the skill in calling turkeys is the most critical element of hunting.  Although it plays a significant part in filling a tag, I consider it about 33 percent of the outcome.  

Part one focused on finding turkeys.  You can’t call what you can’t locate!  

Part one also mentioned the knowledge of the bird, so understanding turkey talk is the key to what specific vocalization will work and when to use it.  This is what I call getting into the gobblers head.

Turkey talk begins with the most simple of sounds, the “cluck.”

Turkeys make this sound more than any other, by far.  It means “Here I am.”  It can mean “come here,” or in conjunction with some purring, it can mean “this is my feeding area.”

The cluck is generally made throughout the day.  

It’s worth mentioning turkeys can recognize each other’s “voice.” This is especially true in the fall when hens and poults form a flock.

The yelp takes on multiple meanings depending on the rhythm, volume and cadence of the sounds.

Call just enough to make the birds try to find you. Patience is key. Joe Forma Photo

There is an assembly call that gathers a flock and a mating yelp as well.

Yelps and clucks are used in very low volume tree calling.  They (yelps) are also incorporated with an excited and loud fly down cackle.

The other loud call is “cutting” and this can be a game changer for spring hunting.

Cutting to a gobbler is from a receptive and frustrated or angry hen.

Cutting can be used along with yelping to impart a scenario where the hen is “pleading” to the gobbler to join her.  In nature, this becomes a standoff between the hen and the gobbler when neither is yielding ground.  

Hens have territorial boundaries and my theory is that the hen knows that leaving her territory is likely to cause another hen to fight.

Gobblers travel in overlapping boundaries to find and breed as many hens as possible.

I have literally taught young hunters to call using nothing but a yelp and a cluck on a friction call at seminars.  They learn in minutes.

Realism is another factor in raising your skill level.  

Birds call in one form or another all day, but situational realism is what fools a turkey.

A fly down cackle includes a couple of clucks after a series of fast yelps.

A cackle is only seven or eight notes that begins with a few yelps and leads to quick excited yelps.

An assembly call starts with moderate volume yelping and goes a little faster and louder with each note for a total of maybe twelve to fourteen notes.

Mating yelps (from the hen) can start slow and speed up or just the opposite, starting fast and tailing off.

The gobbler will let you know what he likes if he is cutting the distance by moving toward your location.

This bearded hen is a bit unusual in nature, but it happens. Joe Forma Photo

Realism isn’t calling back to him every time he gobbles.  

Yelping too often will generally cause the bird to stand his ground.  Make him look for you by throwing your calls from what seems to be a different direction.  Using a mouth call, you do this by moving the palm of your hand in front of your face like a baffle to simulate the bird’s movement.

There is more on calling and closing the deal in the next segment.

In regard to calling, nothing beats practice and most of the hen vocalizations can be heard on You Tube with keys words “Turkey calling.”

Try to learn with as many calls (box calls, pot calls, tube calls and especially mouth calls) as possible.

With practice, you can replicate all the sounds a hen turkey makes with a diaphragm mouth call.  

A diaphragm mouth call is the most versatile and requires no hand movement.  Except it requires one thing more: practice, practice, practice!

 

 

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS – What’s Your Secret??? Part 1 of 3

  • Learn How to Develop Your Own Turkey Hunting Expertise
  • Learn Where to Sit, What to Look For, Where to Locate Turkey
  • Learn about Calls to Use, Decoy Set-Up, Location

By Jim Monteleone

This mature Missouri tom came in to visit for the last time in a place I never hunted before.

A friend of mine asked me a long time ago what my secret was to killing two turkeys in Virginia every year.  I could have offered up some tactic that he would have accepted as borderline magic, but the secret is that there are no secrets!

Experience over 40-plus seasons has taught me a few things, but the key to filling tags is simple.

I had an outline for seminars entitled “FIND them, CALL them and TAG them”.  This will be the focus of a three part series. Each of these elements are critical to your potential success.

Knowing the bird and his habitat – therein lays the most critical knowledge in the sport of turkey hunting.  I know this because I’ve hunted turkeys in many states.  I’ve hunted in places that I knew very, very well.  And I also have hunted in places that I walked into for the first time as a guest.

From the Deep South to the far north, and even the western states, I’ve seen and called in birds that were chased and harassed almost on a daily basis in the spring.

Here is what I know.

I know there are places were turkeys like to be in the morning and what they do after “fly down.”  It’s a huge advantage to know where they roost.  Someone once said, “Roosted ain’t roasted,” and that’s true, but being within a hundred yards at sunrise is a huge advantage.

Instincts play a huge role in getting into the brain of a turkey.

Hens go to the gobbler (usually a dominant bird) in order to breed.

Hens seek out openings in which to nest. The places like pastures and clear cuts draw insects and that’s what young turkeys eat.

So a hen will stake out a territory near an opening.

Gobblers strut to gain the attention of receptive hens.  They do this in fields and on open hardwood ridges.  So you might want to sound like a hen, but you have to think like a gobbler.

The fun to be found turkey hunting is endless.  It’s exciting.  This series is about sharing some things I have learned to help you be successful. Joe Forma Photo

Finding turkeys is not just in locating openings.

They need water every day, so there has to be a water source in the area.

They need grit to process the foods they ingest and they like to dust in warm weather that supports insect life.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes get into their feathers and dusting is the turkey’s way of getting rid of them.

Roost trees can be anywhere, but most often they are on the fringes of an opening or within a hundred yards. If you can locate these trees you are ready for business.

Although be careful not to crowd the tree and possibly scatter and spook the birds.

Birds will gobble and yelp from the roost.

Being there an hour before official sunrise is always my goal.

I’m there to listen!

I go in quietly and I listen.

I set up my decoys and I listen.

When I hear the first turkey sound, I wait to see if there are both hens and gobblers or just hens.  If there are any birds, I’m glued to that spot.

You won’t often find just hens.

If all you hear are gobblers it may be a small group (2-4) of jakes.

A single bird gobbling is a pretty good bet to be a mature long beard.

Your set up is critical.

I try to be on higher ground than the bird because my outline won’t be totally visible if he’s coming up a rise.

My back is against a bigger tree, but not the biggest tree.

The biggest tree is where our eyes go and I believe that holds true for the gobbler too.

I have one knee up to rest my shotgun and I alter my position slightly to allow a solid aiming point in the direction of the last gobble I hear.  I make small adjustments (an inch or two) slowly until I can see the bird.

In summary for part 1, birds need food, water, open woods or a clearing to be found in an area.

Preseason scouting should reveal at least a starting point.

No preseason calling unless it’s a locator call like an owl hooter or a crow call.

Educating the birds in preseason by yelping is a really poor idea.

Birds tend to gobble more on clear, cool days when there is very little wind, but I hunt every chance I get. I have killed birds before, during and after some rain on gray, windy days.

More on calling and bringing a bird into shotgun range in Part 2, tomorrow.