As Seen in the Outdoor Wire
Q: Can you give me a few general tips on how I can be more successful this spring?
A: The best advice I can give is to not give up at 8 a.m. just because you haven’t heard any turkeys gobble. My rule of thumb is that the best time to bag a big gobbler is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also, don’t get stuck in a rut. Be willing to try different set ups and master several calls. Turkeys are like people in that each one has its own personality. Be flexible and take chances. You also need to blend in with the type of terrain you are hunting.
Q: How much scouting should I do before the season?
A: I don’t start scouting and listening as early as a lot of guys. I usually start scouting about two weeks before opening day. I try to locate as many turkeys as possible the first week. Then the second week, I try to decide which turkeys have the most reliable schedule. If I can find a gobbler that roosts in the same area all the time and gobbles consistently each morning, he is the one I will be after the first morning. Again, be flexible. You are probably not the only guy who has heard your hot gobbler. Have several places to try in the event someone beats you to your spot. The last thing you want to do is start trouble with another hunter, so be prepared.
Q: Is there a best call to use?
A: I think whatever type of call you can use the best is the best call to use. So no, I really think it depends on the individual. I am quite fond of diaphragm mouth calls. With practice you can imitate practically any sound a hen makes, plus you get the benefit of hands-free calling and the ability to carry many different calls due to their small size. However, I also carry at least one friction call, (slate, glass or aluminum) and a couple different strikers, so I can imitate two different turkeys at once.
Q: Do I need to learn to use several different calls?
A: I think the more calls and the willingness to be flexible using them is a true key to success. So yes, I believe it is important to learn how to use several different calls.
Q: What do you do to take care of your calls?
A: Your calls are an investment, so you should do your best to take care of them. I suggest soaking diaphragms in Diaphresh or some type of non-alcohol mouthwash overnight after each daily use to kill bacteria that will most definitely grow on your calls. I try not to use the same diaphragms for more than one season. Glass, slate and aluminum calls and strikers need to be sanded often and kept in a stable environment to keep them from warping or cracking. Same goes for box calls of all types.
Q: What is a common mistake that turkey hunters make?
A: I believe the three biggest mistakes all come from one source – lack of patience. First, as I mentioned before, don’t quit hunting because you haven’t heard any turkeys early. Often turkeys don’t start gobbling until mid-morning or later. Second, many hunters who have been calling all morning to a gobbler that has been gobbling like crazy and then all of a sudden shuts up, think the gobbler is done, so they leave too early. If I am calling to a turkey that is gobbling a lot, and all of a sudden he shuts up, I get ready for him to show up. More times than not, within two hours he will show up. The third mistake coincides with the second. Often hunters that are hunting a gobbler who is gobbling like crazy will keep setting up closer and closer until they spook the bird and possibly make him even harder to kill. More times than not, the gobbler (or his hens) will see you long before you see him. When I encounter this situation, I will cut like crazy with a mouth call and do a jake yelp with a friction call at the same time. Then I will shut up and wait.
Q: Do you use decoys? If so how?
A: Yes. Decoys are a great tool, especially for fields, open timber and for wary gobblers. Be careful on public land, since the new decoys on the market, especially Primos decoys, are very realistic looking. I love to set up on the edge of a field with a couple of hen decoys and a jake decoy and watch the show when that old gobbler shows up!
Q: What should I do if I go out and don’t hear any gobbling?
A: Hunt. Hunt. Hunt. You won’t kill a gobbler if you aren’t out there. Besides, just because they aren’t gobbling doesn’t mean they won’t come to you. Sometimes you need to have a stale day, so the other days seem that much better.
Q: If I can hunt all day, is there a best time to hunt?
A: I honestly believe the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are the best time to bag a trophy gobbler. Most hunters have given up, the woods are quieter, and most of the hens are setting by then. I would say 60 percent of the gobblers I have killed were within those hours.