Controversy about calling to turkeys before season in Pennsylvania is much ado about nothing

I’m reasonably certain how this all began, this snafu about calling to male turkeys before the season opens.

Some hunter has an area he hunts come the spring gobbler season’s start. It is a good area for turkey hunting, because either this hunter frequently sees turkeys at this location when traveling within, or merely passing by the place via vehicle. It is a hunting spot he knows will give him a better than average chance at killing a tom.

Somehow, either by actually witnessing the act, or being passed along the information by word-of-mouth, he has learned that other hunters are going to this area and calling to the turkeys before the season even begins.

When the first day arrives he has poor results at this spot, and he, of course, blames this on the people who have been here prior to the season with their preseason calling and general disturbance of the locale.

Being angered, he reaches out to the highest authority he knows, the local state representative, and voices his complaint.

The politician, never one to ignore a possible vote, proposes in this case — a 30-day ban on turkey calling before the season’s start —a possible law that will ease the frustrations of this angry hunter.

The state representative has no science or related studies to back up the assertion that preseason calling ruins inseason hunting. What he does have, however, is a disgruntled constituent whose complaint, in his mind, warrants a response.

Much like so many other displeased and irate people who voice hostility and resentment toward just about everything that angers them as they live their daily routine, this episode and overreaction seems more of a consequence of living in modern times than an issue that actually needs to be addressed.

If common sense would just be applied — something that seems to move farther and farther from the thought process of the world today — foremost with this issue, it could resolve the spat entirely.

On one hand, many years of personal experience, plus being friends with a bunch of real turkey hunting experts, allows me to discount preseason calling to turkeys as being a real game changer come the time to hunt them.

The truth is, turkeys have short memories concerning their communications. Over their lifetimes, they learn danger, safe havens, food sources, weather conditions, and, of course, talking with each other.

Just because someone makes “turkey talk” before the season does not mean the turkeys will no longer respond to their own language come another day. Their form of speech is all they know, and all they will ever know.

Now common sense tells you that if someone is stupid enough to keep going to a spot in preseason and calling constantly to the same turkey(s), and that bird(s) keeps coming to find no turkey making the calls, it will become a bit wary. But if nothing else, as the season moves along and hunters lose interest — which always happens — that same bird will certainly welcome some future calling.

Locating birds by low-level scouting, and even a small amount of calling to determine if birds live in the area, should be the ‘hunters choice, which again is common sense. But to believe that calling to turkeys before the season begins will ruin seasonal hunting is not true.

A good friend, who himself is a turkey hunting expert, enough so that he gives paid seminars on the topic, recently told me his thought on this issue. He said:

“If calling to a certain turkey before the season means I won’t kill him, then failing to kill him when I call to him for the first time on the first day of the season also means I won’t be able to kill him later, because I called to him that first day and failed. By this logic, no turkey would ever be killed as the season progresses.”

Now that is what I call common sense, something that is missing from this whole matter.


Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Turkey

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