As part of our ongoing discussions with turkey hunters, we’ve been getting some great notes from hunters who describe the situation they were in, what happened, and wonder what they could have done differently that might have tipped the odds in their favor.
A great example is the correspondence I’ve been having with Brett Hankins of Virginia, who hunts turkeys on the AP Hill Army base.
Here is his first email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Last week I was set up on a logging road. I was doing a few simple clucks and purrs every 10-15 minutes. I had the decoys set up at an angle from me to my right. The road traveled from right to left with about 75 yards open to the left and 100 yards to the right. There was a thicket in front of me with blowdowns and briars.
After about 45 minutes I did another soft call. All of the sudden I hear a cluck coming from the thicket directly in front of me. So I cluck back identical to what I heard. Then what I think was the boss hen goes into a frenzy. She starts clucking and I would cluck back. Another bird starts yelping and I yelp back. Then the gobbler gobbles. The hen is clucking away. I’m clucking back hoping they will come out of this thicket. Then all of the sudden I see two heads about 5 yards on the other side of the thicket. They are absolutely making every sound a turkey would make. Clucks, yelps…these birds were all worked up. They walked back and forth looking at the decoys but they wouldn’t come any further. Then I think one of them must have picked me off because they started moving off. Clucking and scratching as they moved away.
I don’t know what I did wrong. I assume they saw me working my call. One of many close but now cigar encounters I’ve had over the years.
We wrote him back and offered up some Ray Eye Calling is Everything ideas…
Thank you for the note, Brett!
One thing we would say, for sure, is to encourage you to call excitedly, using mainly yelping and cutting. That will get more turkeys fired up more often and bring more in close enough to shoot at.
Whenever possible, also try to avoid sitting down where there is thick brush between you and the edge of shooting range. We call those kinds of things “shields” and turkeys use them all the time. They’ll stand behind something like that and call to you, asking you to come to them. It drives you crazy, right?
Best of luck, and let us know how it goes out there…
After Marty Eye (Ray’s brother, and the only other turkey caller who sounds like Ray) used excited calling to bring two big gobblers to the gun during windy, rainy, cold conditions in the Ozarks, we wrote back to Brett with this note:
Check out the Eyes on the Outdoors Facebook Page… for a report on Ray’s brother, Marty, and what excited calling can do, even on lousy weather days.
It’s at https://www.facebook.com/eyesontheoutdoors
On the very next day, we got this email from Brett…
Took your advice and went aggressive with the calling. Set up in a much more open area and this was the result.
This morning started out with me traversing a swamp to get back about a mile into the section I selected to hunt. I hunt on AP Hill and army base just north of Richmond. It’s basically public hunting, but they only allow 4 hunters to an area of about 1200 acres.
I went back to an area that showed quite a bit of sign and I had a gobbler hung up there last week. I figured that would be a good place to go since I didn’t bump him out.
I set up some decoys, two hens, a jake and a strutting tom. I found a tree about 20 yards away and started to call. I had listened to Ray’s webinar last night and he talked about the gobbler yelp and using a gobble call. I decided to try them both. I have been practicing my gobble for a few weeks now and it apparently worked because I called in two hunters from about ¾ a mile. Whoops. I saw them calling their heads off in response to my calling. It was fun for about the first 15 minutes then I started to get worried so I packed up and moved to the other side of the valley about 400 yards away. I was calling as I walked and in front of me on the left side of an old logging road I heard a cluck!
I quickly found a big tree and sat down on the wet ground and pulled out my box call. I let out a few yelps and clucks and heard the hen respond… then a gobble! He was close, I mean within 100 yards. I put my gun up and realized if they crest the hill they will only be about 10 yards away. It was too late for me to move at that point. They were coming. I turned my body a bit and started to call softer repeating everything I heard. Then another gobble. I gobbled back and it really fired him up. Next thing I knew the hen popped up 15 yards away across an old logging road. I thought she busted me since I was facing 45 degrees away from her but she kept walking and calling. The gobbler was somewhere in the road but I couldn’t see him from where I sat. But he was responding to my calls. I kept the calling up. Clucking and yelping softly. He kept gobbling and must have gobbled a dozen times. Then I saw him moving in the direction of the hen about 30 yards away. He was in full strut. I put my dot on the base of his neck and waited for him to raise his head. BOOM! Pulled the trigger and he never even kicked.
Thanks for the tips and advice.
Don’t you love stories with happy endings?
Practice your calling, then get out there and let the turkeys hear you.
If you need some help with your calling, consider signing up for Calling is Everything class.
Good luck out there, everybody!