- Read the Bird, Listen to his Gobble
- Understanding Gobble Talk and RESPONDING, or NOT
- Over-Yelping, Biggest Secret to a Wise Old Bird
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. YouTube 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 wingbeats 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.
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!