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Comple Turkey Hunting

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Firing Them Up
with Bill Harper

In the spring, when hunters haven't been fooling with gobblers and trying to call them, my firing-'em-up tactic will produce one pretty quick. When I say "firing-'em-up," I mean calling so aggressively and loudly that a gobbler just has to get excited.

Many times I hunt with a client. To fire up an old gobbler for him, I do a lot of loud cackling, yelping, cutting and purring for two or three minutes. When I start firing one up, he'll often gobble only two or three times, or he may gobble 40 or 50 times. But sooner or later he'll shut up. Then I turn around, walk off, and leave him. Now that the old boy is all fired up, he's ready to mate. However, he's looking for a hen that's not there. And you can imagine what that does to him.

Usually, my client and I will back 50 to 100 yards farther from the turkey. I won't call again until he gobbles--which may be as soon as 30 minutes, or as late as 2 hours. When he does gobble, I start using some soft purrs and soft yelps. Often, he'll come at a quiet, sneaky run to us. He usually won't make any sound, because he is trying to sneak up.

I use this firing-'em-up technique when I have a client or a friend I want to make sure bags a turkey. I'll go into an area, find some turkeys gobbling in the daylight, and do an awful lot of clucking and cackling to fire them up. I'm trying to get them red-hot for mating. Then I walk off and leave them, go pick up my client, sneak back into that area, and do some soft purring and soft calling. Sometimes the hunter will bag his bird within 30 to 45 minutes of the time we sit down.

One example of this technique is a hunt that happened a few seasons ago. Brad Harris, who works here at Lohman's calls, had located a turkey and fired him up one morning. Our sales manager has a client in and wanted him to kill a nice gobbler.

So Brad told the sales manager where to take the client and where to sit, and told him to give only a few light yelps and purrs. Less than ten minutes after the sales manager has begun to call, a 24-pound gobbler ran within six feet of the client, who bagged him. Now that client thinks my sales manager is one of the greatest callers who ever lived. He doesn't know that Brad had been out there firing that turkey up for an hour and half before he got there.

One of the problems most hunters have with this technique is that walking off and leaving a gobbling turkey is hard. Their minds work like this: "I have the old turkey gobbling now. I know where he is, and he knows where I am. If I keep on talking to him, I'm bound to kill him. If I walk off and leave him, he may not be here when I get back."

So these hunters continue to call to the turkey and don't kill him. To walk off and leave a gobbling turkey, believing you can come back and kill him later, takes nerves of steel and the kind of faith that moves mountains. But firing' em up works.

Sometimes the hunter who kills the turkey is not the same one who fires him up. Often you can get your friends to fire turkeys up for you, then build your reputation as a turkey hunter by going and killing the ones they couldn't kill.

Complete Turkey Hunting is $27.95

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