Gobbler hunting rule: Call turkeys when it's quiet!
All last week, I was back down in one of my favorite turkey hunting haunts, the Ozark mountains of southern Missouri. It’s rocky, hilly, expansive, and one of the original strongholds of wild turkey populations that fed our modern trap-and-transplant programs.
A good gobbling morning in those hills is special, and we got some that were spectacular. I came away with roost audio as good as I’ve ever captured, and Ray Eye got the best I’ve ever heard. But of all the lessons coming from last week, this one stands out: Keep calling a lot, in an excited voice, especially when turkeys go quiet.
You will hear people say that you should “match the mood of the woods,” and call sparingly, quietly – maybe not at all – when birds are quiet. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish: bring turkeys to you so you can get a shot. They’re out there, somewhere, and you need to lure them in. How are you going to do that if you match the mood of the woods and sit there quietly?
Hanging your hunting fortunes on having a turkey wander by is such a long shot. Over the years, we have captured amazing video of turkeys, sometimes groups of gobblers, coming to the call even though they say nothing on their way in. The video tells the story: birds strutting, bumping each other out of the way, the whole nine yards, in response to the calling. They might be silent, but the shotgun blast is loud and distinct when they get into range.
This spring, keep calling, whether you get answers or not. And keep your eyes peeled.
Mark Strand blogs and produces films and audio at www.eyesontheoutdoors.com.