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. 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.

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!

 

 

Sweat Equity: Fertilizer Foundation for GIANT DEER

Turkeys, deer and other wildlife will appreciate the hard work you put into it and you will, hopefully, enjoy a successful hunt.

By Jason Houser

As much as we autumn-time deer hunters would like to throw some fertilizer under an oak tree and a few weeks later, have it rain to see results, acorns will cause many hunters to be disappointed. The first or even the second fall after you begin fertilizing will not produce exceptional amounts of acorns. It is usually the third fall before hunters start seeing results from their hard work. But even on the third fall, things can go wrong and you can have very low, if any acorns.

When deciding what trees to fertilize, my first choice is white oaks, followed by red oaks. White oaks are preferred by most wildlife because they not as bitter tasting as reds. However, if white oak trees are not available, deer, turkeys and other wildlife will have no qualms eating acorns from red oaks.

Finding the best oaks could be as simple as taking a look at the area you hunt from a distance. It will not be hard to pick out the tallest oaks on the property. These big, tall oaks that stand higher than everything else in the forest will receive the most sunlight, therefore, allowing them to produce a lot of mast (as much as 20,000 acorns). Oak trees do not have to be in the woods to work as a feeding station for deer. For example, many cattle pastures have oaks growing by their lonesome selves. Because of their solitude from other trees, they have the potential to produce an abundance of acorns.

Fertilizing trees is actually a simple task once you have decided what trees to fertilize. I recommend using a granular fertilizer of 13-13-13 in the spring though fertilizer spikes made especially for fruit or shade trees from any nursery work well too. Follow the directions on the packaging.

A good fertilizer program can result in a bountiful crop of acorns.

If using granular fertilizer, use two pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of crown (leaf shadow looking straight down). Say, the tree you are fertilizing has a crown of 90 x 90 feet, which is 8,100 square feet; the tree will need about 16 pounds of fertilizer. For best results, apply the fertilizer at the tree’s drip line to within five feet of the tree’s trunk. The drip line is the outer edge of the tree’s limbs. If the area has a lot of leaves and other types of debris on the ground, rake it away before applying the fertilizer. For even spreading, use a hand spreader to apply the fertilizer.

Typically, it takes until the third crop before you see an increase in acorn production. And, depending on a number of things, things such as freezing temperatures and winds during the early spring flowering stage, such factors can prevent a good acorn crop for that year. Or, maybe, the trees did not produce mast for that year. Hopefully, you have fertilized enough trees so if a couple of trees do not produce, you have standbys.

Also, all I have talked about is the effects of what fertilizer has on oak trees. The same techniques I have described for fertilizing the white oak will also work for other mast trees, both hard and soft. These trees are the red oak, sawtooth oak, Chinese chestnut, persimmon, apple, and crabapple and pear trees. You don’t have to have a green thumb to make a difference in what is available for wildlife to eat. All that is required is patience and the desire to attract deer to where you desire.

There are several ways a landowner can learn more about habitat management. One of those ways is through Donnie Buckland, NWTF private lands manager: dbuckland@nwtf.net. Secondly, QDMA has some great information on habitat management and even offers hands-on courses that are jam-packed full of information.

 

South Carolina passes new turkey regulations to bolster declining populations

South Carolina passes new turkey regulations. NWTF Photo

The National Wild Turkey Federation applauds the South Carolina legislature for passing a bill addressing declining turkey populations. The bill will restructure season dates and limits for residents and nonresidents.

The new structure creates two regional season periods: April 1 – May 10 for the upstate and March 22 – April 30 in the Lowcountry. The NWTF is pleased with the later season opener in the upstate as it more closely coincides with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ original proposal of April 10 as a start date.

Other provisions in the bill are designed to help reverse the statewide decline in wild turkey populations and they include:

  • a daily bag limit of one bird;
  • a one-bird limit in the first 10 days of the season, which is intended to reduce early season harvest so more gobblers will be available for breeding early in the season;
  • state residents will still be able to take three birds during the season and nonresidents will be allowed to take two;
  • a fee for turkey tags will be implemented to support future wild turkey research and management;
  • and finally, the bill makes possible the development of an electronic check-in system for reporting harvests.

South Carolina State NWTF Chapter board members testified multiple times in the House and Senate promoting a later season open date, and NWTF members sent more than 5,000 messages to their senators and representatives.

“We thank our members for their participation in the legislative process, and our legislators, particularly committee chairs Senator Chip Campsen (R-43) and Representative Bill Hixon (R-83), for taking the time to craft the legislation,” said Joel Pedersen, NWTF director of government affairs.

“We couldn’t have made the progress we did without the help of our state board and NWTF members who contacted their legislators,” said Dal Dyches, South Carolina’s state chapter president. “Although this isn’t a perfect bill, we believe it is a step in the right direction for the state’s wild turkey population.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation: When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org

For more information, contact Pete Muller at (803) 637-7698

 

 

Turkey Hunting Lingo – Tom or Hen? Keep this handy pocket guide! FREE

  • Did you know what they call a SNOOD of the turkey? 
  • What are Turkey Caruncles?
  • Tom or Hen? Easy way to tell is illustrated below

By Forrest Fisher

As hunters, we never stop learning.  Folks in different parts of the country call turkey by different local slang terms at times, not counting the different turkey breeds, but overall, turkeys are turkeys. Their parts have names and as a veteran hunter or beginner, it’s a good thing to know what I what. Feel free to print this illustration from the NWTF out and keep a copy handy in your pocket.  We get smarter every day.

Good luck in the woods!