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John's Journal... Entry 141, Day 1


The Tree Call, The Hen-Turkey-Wing Call and The Lost Call

EDITOR'S NOTE: Turkey hunters understand the basic language of turkeys, but perhaps not the subtleties of that language. Often the subtle variations in the volume, rhythm and pitch of a turkey's call mean just as much as the kind of call it is. Sometimes these variations may mean even more. The most skillful turkey hunters -- the masters of the sport -- know how to add these subtleties to their calling. This week, avid deer and turkey hunter, Wilbur Primos of Jackson, Mississippi, the founder of Primos Game Calls, will share some of his secrets to use turkey talk effectively to attract even the most stubborn birds.

The Tree Call:
Although some hunters refer to this call as the tree yelp, I believe the tree call is as much a cluck as it is a yelp. When I try to describe this call to somebody, I say it's a muffled yelp made in a monotone. In other words, the tree call is a hen's way of yawning when she wakes up in the morning. This call is usually the first sound a gobbler hears from a hen each day. The gobbler has been in his tree all night long thinking about mating. When he hears that yawn and knows his sweetheart is waking for the day, he really gets charged-up. If you hear a tree call in the morning when you've slipped into the woods, you must realize that you'll have competition from a hen for that gobbler. Just join in with a tree call yourself, and try to sound like a part of the flock.

Many hunters will give tree calls first thing in the morning when the woods are still dark. But this really lessens their chances of attracting a gobbler, especially if they're hunting a river bottom or flat ground fairly close to the tom. When a gobbler that's sitting half-asleep in his tree hears a tree call from the ground, he'll often be spooked. He probably wonders what a hen's doing on the ground when there's not enough light to see. A gobbler will be very cautious of any hen like that. So, never give a tree call until the woods brighten-up. Remember also that if no hens are calling, there probably aren't any close to the gobbler. If you give a tree call, the tom will wonder what's going on, because he hasn't heard a hen fly up close to him before dark. An experienced ole' gobbler may be spooked off if you try a tree call before daylight.

The Hen-Turkey-Wing Call:
The most-reliable way to get a gobbler's attention early in the morning is to call him with a hen turkey wing. I prefer to use a hen wing because a gobbler wing is too stiff and large to produce the right sound. I'll flap the wing so it hits a few bushes and some leaves on the ground. This sounds like a hen that's just flown or walked into the area and begun to flap her wings -- in the same way you stretch your arms in the morning. Eight out of ten times, this flapping call will get a response from the gobbler. He'll either gobble or fly down. Then I'll use a series of soft yelps.

The Lost Call:
Another effective turkey call is the lost call -- which is different from yelps, because this one has yearning in it. The lost call means "I want you to come to me, or I want to come to you. I don't want to be here alone." The difference between a lost call and a long series of yelps is the slight tonal changes you make when giving the lost call. If a lost call doesn't sound pleading, it's not a good one. What separates the master callers from the hunters who merely call is that the masters put life and emotion into their calls. The slightest difference in inflection can completely change the meaning of the call. I'll use the lost call primarily in the fall after I've scattered a flock of turkeys. I'll rarely use this call in the spring. When you hear the lost call in the woods during the fall, you know there are turkeys out there searching for one another. If you give the lost call, you can reel them in as though they're attached to a string.




Check back each day this week for more about the Mastering Turkey Talk With Wilbur Primos...

Day 1 - The Tree Call, The Hen-Turkey-Wing Call and The Lost Call
Day 2 - The Yelp, The Cluck and The Putt
Day 3 - The Kee-Kee Run, The Gobble and Drumming
Day 4 - The Cackle
Day 5 - Cutting, The Wavy Call and The Purr

John's Journal