John's Journal...

Secrets to Hunting Tough Gobblers

How to Call Turkeys Like a Champion

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Chris Parrish of Missouri, a wild turkey hunter for more than 25 years, has won several Grand National Turkey Calling Championships, two Mid-American Turkey Calling Championships, the U.S. Open and numerous regional and state titles.
When I attend competitions and seminars, hunters always ask me questions about how to deal with certain turkey-hunting situations. I tell them one thing's for certain – turkey hunting has no absolutes. The following tactics generally produce the most success for me when I'm dealing with tough toms.

The Turkey’s On the Roost:
To reach a turkey's roost location, you need to have scouted the area before the season and/or have a topographical map so you quickly and easily can determine the lay of the land. Once I know the terrain, I get as close to the gobbling turkey as I can without his spotting me.  I try to get within at least 75 to 1Click to enlarge50 yards of the roost tree before I call. When I'm set up, I put my gun on my knee, prepare to call and look for the turkey. If I can see the tom standing on the limb, I wait until he looks away from my direction to give a call. I'll make two or three short clucks and a couple of soft yelps. If you get that close to a turkey, unless he has hens roosting with him, he'll almost always fly down within gun range. Nine times out of 10, when I set up that close to a turkey, and the gobbler hits the ground, I can squeeze the trigger and take him.

The Turkey’s Flown Down From the Roost:
If you haven't found the turkey until after he comes off the roost, or you can't get close enough for him to pitch off the roost and land right in front of you, don't rush trying to get close to the turkey when he gobbles from the ground. Instead, sit, and listen to the turkey for a few minutes. Then I try and make the bird gobble to a crow call an owl call or a coyote howler before I decide to go after him. If that turkey is moving, don't go straight to him. Instead, get in front of the tom so that he'll walk to you. When the turkey stands in one spot and gobbles, more than likely a group of hens are with him. Go toward the turkey, and get in closClick to enlargee enough to observe him and the hens before you ever start calling. If a gobbler is holding in one place with a flock of hens, usually he'll gobble to get a hen to stop and let him breed her. After he breeds the hen, he'll gobble again to attempt to get another hen to stop so he can breed her.

Sometimes the turkey will gobble and move toward a strut zone where he expects to meet his hens. When you hear a turkey on the ground gobbling, try and determine the turkey's intentions before you call to him. Once you know the gobbler's plans, you can set up your game plan to take him. A traveling turkey doesn't like loud or aggressive calls. Turkeys on the move know where they want to go and what they want to do when they get there. I try to call soft and subtle to a moving tom in the beginning. If the turkey comes to me when I cluck and purr, then I won't do any other calling. If I have to get aggressive and start cutting and cackling, I can. When a gobbler has hens with him, I'll call with very-soft yelps and clucks to see if I can get a hen to answer me. If a hen answers aggressively with cutting or loud yelping, I'll answer her with similar calls. I'll try to get her to pull the flock with the gobbler to me, a strategy you'll read about in tClick to enlargeurkey-hunting articles. However, I've found that when I start calling aggressively to a hen, generally she'll take the flock away from me.

I try and match my calling to the hens' calling. I'll often try and sound like four or five different hens all feeding just away from the main flock by using a wide variety of calls. Then I'll give some coarse jake yelps, which often will cause a gobbler to leave his flock of hens to come over to another flock and try and run the jake off. Jakes usually will flock together in the spring. A gobbler will beat-up and chase-away an individual jake. But, jakes in a group think they can whip any bully they see. These jakes will give coarse, deep yelps, or they'll try and gobble. Often you can aggravate a gobbler by giving jake calls after you've given some hen calls. Gobblers often will come in quicker when you mix jake calls with your hen calls than if you only give hen calls. Often by adding jake calls to your hen calls, you won't only pull a gobbler out of a flock of hens, but you'll often pull the whole flock to you. So, during the spring, regardless of what hen calls you give to try and lure a gobbler in to within gun range, don't forget about using jake calls. 

Tomorrow: The Five Deadliest Turkey Calls

Check back each day this week for more about "Secrets to Hunting Tough Gobblers "

Day 1: Gobblers I Loved To Hate
Day 2: Call-Less Turkey Hunting
Day 3: How to Call Turkeys Like a Champion
Day 4: The Five Deadliest Turkey Calls
Day 5: Secrets for Taking Rainy-Day Gobblers


Entry 454, Day 3