By: Robert Stanley
If you’re an experienced turkey hunter looking to take your skills to the next level, mastering advanced calling techniques is essential. While basic calls like yelps, purrs, and clucks can be effective, adding more complex calls to your repertoire can help you outsmart even the most pressured birds.
Here are some tips and tricks for mastering advanced turkey calling techniques and taking your spring turkey hunting game to the next level:
- Learn the Language: Before you can effectively call turkeys, you need to understand their language. Spend time listening to wild turkeys in their natural habitat and practicing imitating their sounds. Back in the day, we used to have to go out and listen to live birds. Occasionally, we would stumble on a VHS or DVD that would have a good example of different calls baked into the production, but now there are plenty of video outlets at your fingertips to listen to the different sounds a live bird makes. Scraping wings on the gravel, Kee Kee runs, Drumming, and Spitting, you didn’t learn any of that from the ol’ VHS at hunting camp, but now you can pull examples right up on YouTube.
- Use Multiple Calls: Experiment with different calls, such as box calls, diaphragm calls, and slate calls. Different calls can produce different tones and pitches, allowing you to better match the sounds of the turkeys you’re hunting. More than that don’t be afraid to mix in a Gobble Call, a Wingbone, or even different shock calls like a Peacock or Woodpecker. No two birds sound exactly alike, and no two calls do either. You should be proficient with as many styles of call as possible. Don’t forget that you might be perfectly comfortable on a mouth call but on a windy day, those Tom might want to hear the loud yelp of a Box Call. On other days a pot and peg might be the way to go. Let the birds tell you what they want. This goes for the amount of calling too. More and more in modern times less calling is more.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Spend time each day practicing your calling, both in the field in the off-season and at home. Consider recording yourself and playing it back to analyze and improve your technique. Again, having a smartphone makes this very easy. Don’t forget your commute is a wonderful place to practice, on a hunting trip is not. With that, even live birds make the occasional odd sound, so hitting a wrong note on occasion is not a real deal breaker in the field.
- Know When to Call: Effective calling also involves knowing when to call and when to stay quiet. Pay attention to turkey behavior and adjust your calling accordingly. Don’t overcall, as this can spook birds. Is he hammering on the roost but dead quiet when he flies down? Have the birds shut up as the season rolls along? Or, is he standing on top of a knob just calling to the world? All of these situations bring about different calling strategies. For the fly-down bird, less is more, but for the knob bird, let er eat, ’cause that’s just fun!
- Use Advanced Techniques: Once you’ve mastered the basics, try incorporating more advanced techniques into your calling, such as cutting, purring, and kee-kee runs. These calls can mimic different behaviors and sounds that turkeys make, increasing your chances of success. Gone are the days of Yelp, yelp, yelp… bang call sequences. That may have been the case in the 80s and 90s but Turkey hunting is growing in popularity every single year. And the research from the NWTF and other agencies shows that pressure is affecting bird responses. Learn how to talk the talk, since the birds are doing less talking and more walking. Call but be vigilant with your eyes as well as your ears.
- Use Quality Gear: To achieve the best results, invest in quality turkey hunting gear, including calls, decoys, and blinds. This can improve your calling setup and make you more effective in the field. Some folks really hate blinds, while others love them. They have their place, and they keep you patient and stationery. So do full-body decoys. Yet, there is a time and a place for high-end decoys that are easily packed like a Montana Decoy. Sometimes, Big blinds and realistic decoys kill birds, and other times it’s boot leather and portable gear. All of this stuff is a tool in the toolbox. There is nothing that works 100% of the time for anyone. Figure out what gear you need and what you can go without, but realize a well-versed turkey hunter with good gear can kill a lot more birds than one that lives and dies by one style or technique.
- Hunt Early and Late: Turkey’s behavior can vary depending on the time of day, so consider hunting early in the morning or later in the afternoon when birds are more active. This can give you more opportunities to practice your calling and potentially lure in more birds. As the season rolls on the more reason, there is to sleep in a bit. It tends to be mid-morning to later in the afternoon can yield great results later in the season (where legal). For those of you in the Noon cut-off states don’t let that 10-12:00 window catch you napping. That is when the gobbler who was henned up that morning might be out looking for love again.
Stay Patient: Hunting turkeys requires patience and persistence, especially when using advanced calling techniques. Don’t give up if you don’t have success right away, and keep trying different approaches until you find what works best.
By using these tips and tricks, you can become a pro at advanced turkey calling techniques and increase your success rate during spring turkey hunting season. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep honing your skills and trying new techniques until you find what works best for you. Happy hunting!
In conclusion, mastering advanced calling techniques is an essential part of becoming a successful turkey hunter. By incorporating these tips and tricks into your hunting strategy, you can improve your calling accuracy and increase your chances of success in the field. Happy hunting!