Secrets to Hunting Tough Gobblers
The Five Deadliest Turkey Calls
Editor’s Note: If you only can use one call to bring in a lonesome gobbler, what call will you use, when will you use it, and why will you use it? Recently I posed this question to some of the nation's top turkey hunters and callers.
Eddie Salter, two-time World Champion turkey caller in 1985 and 1989 from Evergree, Ala., and a member of the H. S. Strut Pro Staff, says, "I like to use cutting with a lot of excited hen yelping right behind it. I change the rhythm and the pitch of the yelping that I use right after I cut to the turkey. I want the gobbler to think that the hen is really excited and anxious for the ole tom turkey to come and see her. I’ll make this call on Hunter's Specialties' Split V-3 with the aluminum frame. I like this call because it has three reeds, and I can put a lot of air through the call and really make the call sound exciting."
Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has won the Grand National turkey-calling championship and many other national, state and regional calling championships. He's a member of the H. S. Strut Pro Staff and a veteran woodsman. According to Morrett, "The most-versatile call a hunter can use is the yelp. You can yelp loudly and excitedly, or you can yelp softly and calmly. There's no hunting situation when the yelp isn't appropriate for calling turkeys. You can use the yelp with any kind of turkey call that's made, but I prefer to use a glass or a slate call for my yelping. My favorite glass call is the Little Deuce made by H.S. Strut, and my favorite slate is the Little Deuce II. I like to start my yelp as a high-pitched call, and I don't break it off into a raspy yelp. I prefer to give sweeter, high-pitched yelps when I'm trying to bring in a turkey. I like to give four or five yelps in succession."
Dick Kirby, the CEO of Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, has won many national calling contests through the years. Kirby particularly enjoys teaching newcomers to the sport of turkey hunting the different calls. "When I've got a turkey that's taking his time coming in or maybe the gobbler is hung up and won't come any closer, then my favorite call is the cluck and purr," Kirby says. "Oftentimes if you need that gobbler to come 10 yards closer or come around a bush or a tree, if you cluck and purr softly, he'll take those few extra steps so you can take the shot. I like to give the cluck and purr with a slate call because it produces a low soft call. My favorite call for this is the Quaker Boy Triple Threat because it has slate, aluminum and Plexiglas surfaces that I can use to cluck and purr on. When you've got a gobbler in close but you can't get off the shot, the cluck and the purr can make the difference in whether you go home with a turkey or you go home with the memory of the bird that got away."
Preston Pittman of Pickens, Mississippi, the creator of Preston Pittman Game Calls, has won four World Championship calling contests as well as many national and regional calling championships.
"The best call that anyone can use to call in a turkey is the call he or she has the most confidence in," Pittman explains. "Confidence in your calling ability makes you call better. But if I'm hunting a tough bird that's been called to, cut to, cackled at, possibly shot at and has been beaten-up by every hunter in four counties, the call that I have the most confidence in is using my hand to scratch in the leaves when a turkey is close enough to hear it. Scratching in the leaves is a natural soft sound. If you throw in a little hen whining, scratching can bring in a turkey that nothing else will. Scratching in the leaves is the sound that tells the gobbler, 'I'm the real thing.' The cadence at which you scratch often determines whether or not you'll bring in the gobbler. Use a four-count scratch call. The first count is just a long, scratch sound, followed by two, short, scratch sounds and a fourth, long, slow scratch sound. That soft scratching in the leaves using the cadence I've described will often bring in a gobbler when nothing else will."
Will Primos, the owner of Primos Game Calls and the producer of the "Truth" turkey-hunting videos, has his headquarters in Flora, Mississippi, where natives know him as an active hunter and a master woodsman. "If I only can use one call for turkeys, I'll use three, fast, short yelps," Primos reports. "These three excited yelps really seem to turn on a gobbler and cause him to come to you faster than any call I know. I don't believe a hunter can go wrong using three fast yelps to bring in a gobbler."
Brad Harris, a well-known turkey and deer hunter from Neosho, Missouri, enjoys calling and hunting and has produced video and TV shows on the sport of turkey hunting.
"Most people overlook the sounds that are made by the turkey's wings when he flies up, when he flies down or when he's just stretching by flapping his wings," Harris emphasizes. "Since the sound of the turkey's wings is not a vocal sound that is made by the turkey, many hunters completely overlook this sound when they're trying to call a turkey. The good thing about using this sound is the only time a gobbler has heard this is when there are other turkeys in his area. Generally a gobbler doesn't associate wing-beating with a hunter. I'll use the sound of the wing beats early in the morning when I want to sound like a hen flying down off the roost. I'll also use this call when I'm working a gobbler that's been hunted by several other hunters. I want to sound like a hen that's calling to a gobbler and then give the wing beats to sound like a second hen has flown into the area and starts calling to the gobbler also. I know that using a turkey’s wing adds realism to my calling and often brings in a gobbler when nothing else will."
Tomorrow: Secrets for Taking Rainy-Day Gobblers