Four Assumptions for Gobbler Success, Part 2
by Steve Sorensen
We’ve covered two assumptions you must make in the turkey woods. Those assumptions were about the gobbler. Now, here are two more. These assumptions are about you.
Assumption #3: You Can Outsmart The Smartest Gobbler
Back when turkey hunting started gaining in popularity, we heard phrases like “wise old gobbler” and “cagy old tom”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they are masters at self-preservation, but it’s not because they’re smart.
A gobbler’s survival smarts don’t come from PhD level courses in woods wisdom; they come from life experience. It might seem ironic, but his most effective survival technique comes from cutting classes, starting with Poult Survival 101. Whenever a turkey sees a threat anywhere nearby – and he thinks almost everything is a threat – he’s gone. His grade in Survival Class? He earns an A+ by cutting out.
Turkeys do not have the highest IQ in the woods. With a brain the size of a walnut, a turkey can’t be as smart as the animals that prey on him, including two-legged shotgun-toters. In fact, he might be one of the dumbest clucks of all.
Here’s a case where two negatives makes a positive. First, he lacks brains, so he’s not inquisitive like a whitetail. Second, he’s hopelessly neurotic, a bundle of nerves stretched tighter than a banjo string. For both reasons, when he sees something suspicious he doesn’t wait around to find out what it is. That’s what often saves his skinny, naked neck.
So don’t give that bundle of nerves and feathers anything to worry about. Let him mind his own business. What is his business? A hen turkey nearby minding her own business is his business, because it is the nature of turkeys to flock together.
A hunter sounding like a hen, just going about her business, is often the way to outsmart a gobbler.
Assumption #4: Your Calling Is Probably Good Enough
I’m no expert caller, but early in my turkey hunting career I thought I was. I remember the first time I tried a turkey diaphragm call. I bought a little record along with the call, listened to it for about a half hour, and went out into the turkey woods. That evening, four gobblers answered my first-ever yelp in the turkey woods, and I thought, “I’m gonna be good at this!”
The truth is that anyone within hearing distance of four turkeys in the right mood can do the same. That’s because more depends on the turkey than the caller. Almost any hunter can make acceptable calls. Even squeaky fence gates have made acceptable calls! Gone are the days when we thought we had to make three perfect yelps and shut up. Gone are the days when we thought one bad note would send a gobbler into the next state.
I’ve discovered two simple secrets to calling gobblers. One is to vary the rhythm and the number of notes, because that’s what I’ve heard real turkeys do.
The other secret is that it takes more than lyrical yelps to sound like a hen. If you’ve ever been close to a hen turkey, one that isn’t suspicious or spooked, you’ve heard sounds more varied than the evenly cadenced yelps hunters have been taught to perform. Use the yelps, but throw in a few brief hesitations. Sprinkle the calling with an occasional odd note. The vocal hen almost always seems to be talking to herself in quiet putts and purrs, right along with those pretty yelps.
Practicing your calls is worthwhile, but this isn’t a case where practice makes perfect. Practice for realism. Practice for confidence. Practice so that the sounds you make come easily. But don’t practice for perfection. Practice doesn’t make even real turkeys perfect. Every real turkey sounds unique.
My four assumptions won’t bring a turkey to your gun on every hunt. But the truth is that even hunters who tell you “Never assume nuthin’!” are making these assumptions. That’s one reason why they succeed the way they do. So, when the hunting is tough, these assumptions will help you remain confident – and when you’re confident, you carry more gobblers over your shoulder.
About Steve Sorensen:
Award-winning outdoor writer and speaker Steve Sorensen loves the Havalon knife, and has been a fan of knives since he begged his dad for a hunting knife when he was six years old. His articles have been published inDeer & Deer Hunting Magazine, Sports Afield, and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at your next sportsman’s event, and follow his writing on his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.
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