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John's Journal... Entry 84, Day 1

The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- A's - C's

click to enlarge"I heard him gobbling at daylight. Then a hen came in cutting and cackling, but she had three jakes with her kee-keeing. When the tom flew down, he never gobbled. He displayed, started drumming and walked over a hill out of sight."

If you heard this conversation as one turkey hunter told another about his morning afield, if you didn't know the language turkey hunters used, you might think you were listening to a foreign language. You'll find talking turkey half the fun of hunting turkeys. However, to talk turkey, you have to know the phrases and the words of the turkey hunter's vocabulary.

I've compiled a turkey-hunter's dictionary for this week to enable you to communicate your turkey-hunting experience to other sportsmen better and understand what they're telling you. Today, we'll look at turkey-hunting words beginning with As, Bs and Cs. You'll want to print out the entire "Turkey Hunter's Dictionary" this week to keep and to help you talk turkey this spring.

Affliction, or turkey affliction: A disease that temporarily cripples many turkey hunters by making them unable to keep their minds on their work or their families. When the affliction befalls a certain type of hunter, he becomes a turkey-hunting bum the entire turkey season. Once the season is over, the hunter usually regains himself and rarely remembers the effects of the affliction. He'll swear that he'll never catch it again. But, sure enough, the next turkey season, he'll come down with it.

Beard: A hair-like growth that protrudes from a turkey's chest. Both male and female turkeys can have beards, but the beard is the primary sexual characteristic of the male. Beards generally grow at a rate of 4 or 5 inches a year, growth beginning when turkeys are about five months old.

Box caller: A thin-walled wooden box with a wooden paddle lid attached to one end. With this box -- really a musical instrument -- nearly all turkey calls can be imitated. To create the friction-based sounds, the lid and two sides of the box are usually chalked.

Cackling: An excited call given by the hen turkey and made up of a series of fast yelps.

Calling: Sounds made by the hunter to lure a gobbler into gun range. Calling is not limited to the use of hen or gobbler voice imitations. To mimic other sounds made by turkeys, many hunters scratch in the leaves, beat a turkey's wing against tree limbs and bushes, or slap the sides of their legs with their gloved hands.

Sweet Calling -- Any turkey voice imitation performed with a smooth, clear, crisp tone. A sweet call may be compared to a love ballad.

click to enlargeRaspy Calling -- Any turkey voice imitation performed with a coarse tone. Think of a raspy call as one made by a hen with a sore throat or the beginnings of laryngitis. To understand the difference between a sweet call and a raspy call, imagine the same love ballad being sung by Barbara Streisand (sweet) and Willie Nelson (raspy). Just as some people prefer Streisand while others like Nelson better, so there are some turkeys that will come to sweet calling and other that will be pulled in by raspy calling. And some turkeys will come to both types of calling. Others, however, will not come to any kind of calling at all.

Call-less hunting: Attempting to bag a turkey without calling to him. To be a productive call-less hunter, you must know where and when you can meet a tom in the woods during his daily routine. This type of hunting requires much more knowledge of the turkeys, their movement patterns, and their likes and dislikes than does hunting with a call.

Call-shy: A term describing a turkey that won't come to conventional calling. Often, this bird has been called to by hunters and perhaps shot at and spooked. A call-shy gobbler may not come to a hen but will gobble and wait for her to come to him, as she's naturally supposed to do. If he gobbles and she doesn't come, some hunters think he'll walk off because he assumes the calling is coming from a hunter.

click to enlargeCedar box with striker: A cedar box caller, similar to the box and paddle box caller with which most hunters are familiar. However, instead of a paddle for the lid of the box caller, the hunter has some type of striker that he holds in his hand and freely passes across the lid to produce the calls of a wild gobbler.

Chufa: A grass that has nutlike roots that turkeys like to eat.

Cluck: A hen turkey's sound that's much like a woman talking to herself.

Contented cluck -- The sound a hen turkey makes while walking through the woods when everything is great in the world: there's plenty to eat, the sun is shining, and she's anticipating a good day.

Excited cluck -- A hen turkey's sound that can mean "I think there's something over there we'd better look at. I'm not sure what it is, but I know we'd better check. Hang on, honey, I'm on the way."

Controlled burning: The act of setting fire to the woods to burn away the litter on the ground. The fire releases nutrients into the soil and causes a new growth of young plants without damaging or destroying the timber. Controlled burning is a key management tool.

Crow call: The sounds that crows make when they notify one another of their positions. The crow call is used by turkey hunters to cause a tom to gobble instinctively. Many times when a turkey hears a high-pitched noise like a crow call, he reacts as you do when someone jumps out of a dark closet and shouts, "Boo!" You may scream, because that's the first vocalization that you give to the emotion you feel when you're frightened unexpectedly.

click to enlargeCutting: Very fast, loud stutter yelps and clucks much like the beginning of a cackle, but not going all the way through a cackle. Cutting often means "If you're looking for a date, I'm the lady who can satisfy."

To learn more about turkey hunting, you can order three turkey-hunting books by John E. Phillips by clicking on "Books" on Night Hawk's Homepage, or call (800) 627-4295 to receive a brochure.

TOMORROW: The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary D's - I's




Check back each day this week for more about Bo Pitman's Offbeat Tom Tactics ...

Day 1 -The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- A's - C's
Day 2 -The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- D's - I's
Day 3 -The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- J's - P's
Day 4 -The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- R's - S's
Day 5 -The Turkey Hunter's Dictionary -- T'S - Y's

John's Journal