John's Journal...

Hunting and Calling Turkeys with World Champion Matt Van Cise

Day 5: Gobble Very Little and Use These Suggestions for Taking Toms

Editor’s Note: Matt Van Cise of Brookville, Pennsylvania, has been setting the turkey-calling world on fire and also is an avid turkey hunter. He’s won the Senior Open Division of the World Turkey Calling Championship, the Wild Turkey Bourbon Grand National Championship, five World Open Championships, four Grand National Championships, three U.S. Open Championships and numerous others.

Click for Larger ViewI know many hunters who use a gobble call very effectively. However, I rarely use it, just because I’m not very good at it. I’ve tried a wide variety of gobble calls, and I’m not very good with any of them. I’m pretty much limited to using a Quaker Boy Shaker Tube. I always carry one in my turkey vest, but it’s the last call I use, if none of my other calls will make a turkey gobble. I’m not saying a gobble call isn’t a good call, because it is. I just haven’t learned to use it as effectively as I should. For a locator call, I prefer an owl hooter, a crow call or a coyote howler. The coyote howler doesn’t seem to work as well in the Northeast to make a turkey shock gobble, but I use it quite a bit in the evening if I use it at all.

I’m often asked about the toughest turkey I’ve ever hunted. The truth is, I try not to hunt tough turkeys. I did have one old gobbler I tried to take with a friend of mine. He shot at the gobbler and missed him. I hunted that bird for four seasons and saw him several times, but I never could make him gobble, and he never would come to a call. I don’t spend much time with any one gobbler, but I’ve hunted some turkeys hard over several seasons, and I eventually have taken them.

Click for Larger ViewMy whole philosophy of turkey hunting is most of the time there will be 2 or 3 days in the season when a gobbler will come to a call. All you have to do is call to him on the day he wants to come in to you. There’s no way to know the day a turkey really wants to come in, so if you hunt several-different turkeys every day of the season, often one of those turkeys will be ready to come in to the call. That’s why I suggest you have multiple gobblers to hunt.

I grew up hunting turkeys. Most of the property I hunted was hardwood timber, and we had very-few fields in our region. In these areas, I rarely, if ever, saw a turkey out in the fields. The gobblers never seemed to roost in the same tree every night. Those turkeys were really hard to pattern. I found I was better off hunting many different areas and trying to hunt very little in the same place. In that type of hunting, I had to find a lot of turkeys and try and get to the one that wanted to come to the call, on the day I hunted him.

I’m a forester, so I can hunt almost-every day, even if it’s only for an hour. Because my job involves being out in the woods every day, I consistently can find gobblers. In the section of Pennsylvania where I live, if the property isn’t posted, a hunter usually doesn’t have a problem getting permission to hunt there. I’m often asked which of the four races of turkeys is the most difficult to hunt. I always answer the Osceola, because it’s difficult to get a place to hunt the Osceola gobbler. I love Merriam’s turkeys, since they gobble at almost-any turkey sound you make. I think turkeys are turkeys wherever you find them, but some turkeys are harder to take than others because of hunting pressure and predator pressure.

Click for Larger ViewMy best tip for becoming a better turkey hunter is to listen to the turkeys when they gobble. Don’t just listen for what the gobblers are doing. Listen to what the gobblers are telling you to do. For instance, some hunters will go into the turkey woods and yelp 30 times consecutively, and the turkey won’t gobble. I’ll go out and yelp five times. If the turkey doesn’t gobble, I use the cutting call a few times. If the turkey gobbles to the cutting call, I keep using that call to try and bring him into gun range. Whatever sounds the turkey will gobble to, are the sounds I use.

Click for Larger ViewI also recommend that you scout at least as much as you hunt, if not more, and hunt more than you call. You have to spend time scouting and being very observant. Look for scratching where turkeys are feeding. Search for strut zones, which you can determine by seeing where a gobbler drags his wings and leaves marks on a road or opening. You actually may see the turkey strutting in a particular area. Look at fields, and you will see turkeys out there. If you will call from the place that the gobbler wants to be, you drastically will increase your odds for bagging that gobbler.

To learn more about turkey hunting from the masters, get these Kindle eBooks and print books by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter's Bible (available as an eBook or in paperback),” “PhD Gobblers: How to Hunt the Smartest Turkeys in the World,” “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” (also available in an audio book from, “How to Hunt Turkeys with World Champion Preston Pittman,” “The 10 Sins of Turkey Hunting with Preston Pittman” and “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting.” Also sells John’s eBooks.

To get John’s book, “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” for free, go to to download.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about Hunting and Calling Turkeys with World Champion Matt Van Cise

Day 1: Hunt Ready Turkeys and Learn How Matt Van Cise Wins Championships
Day 2: What’s a Stubborn Turkey and How Do You Take Him
Day 3: Get To the Gobblers Quickly
Day 4: Fill Your Turkey Vest with Different Types of Turkey Calls to Be Successful
Day 5: Gobble Very Little and Use These Suggestions for Taking Toms

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Entry 870, Day 5