Q: Can you give me a few general tips on how I can be more successful this spring?
A: Spend as much time in the woods as possible and that’s for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is, if you’re not in the woods you can’t harvest your bird. I don’t know how many times I haven’t gone hunting because it was raining or the wind was blowing or yesterday was a bad day. And lo and behold you’re in the local restaurant at lunch time and every other hunter that was in the woods that morning harvested a bird, because it quit raining or the wind quit blowing and today was a good day. Turkeys are in the woods every day.
Q: How much scouting should I do before the season?
A: It’s pretty simple. You can’t do too much scouting but it is really easy to not do enough. Spend every minute you can in the woods. Scouting for me is year round. When I am deer hunting in the fall, it’s really just a cover for turkey scouting. I highly recommend that you do your early scouting from a distance. A little pressure goes a long way with an old tom. You bust him one time and it may be the last chance you get. Make sure you wear your Mossy Oak Obsession when you’re scouting. I don’t know how many times I’ve been looking down the beak of an old Tom while I was scouting and Obsession covered me. A pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt would have probably given an old tom a lesson he may not forget.
Q: Is there a best call to use?
A: Absolutely. And I think this is one of the biggest keys to being a successful turkey hunter. The best call, and I am not trying to be funny but the answer is whatever call the turkey wants to hear. That, in my opinion, is why they make turkey vests. So there is enough room to carry all the calls. All joking aside, I can’t count the times I have tried to work a bird with my favorite mouth call and he shuts up. A lot of guys pack it in and that’s the end of the story. And that’s also where a lot of hunters miss the boat. Switch calls! Try a different mouth call, a slate, a glass, a box, anything you got in that fancy new turkey vest, and more times than not you will stir that tom into a meeting with his maker.
Q: Do I need to learn to use several different calls?
A: Yes and don’t just learn the basics. Be proficient with each call. I believe you should at least have three different (tone) mouth calls and at least one slate or glass and a couple of box calls. I think the previous question answers why.
Q: What do you do to take care of your calls?
A: Momma probably isn’t going to be happy about some of this but here goes. My box calls and other friction calls are pretty easy. I store them in the same condition I would as if I were going to take them hunting the next morning. Next, I store them in a warm, dry and secure place. Secure place you ask? This means some place brother Bubba won’t sit on them. If you have ever tried to replace your favorite call, you understand secure. My mouth calls I store by first separating the reeds with reed separators (teeth off of broken plastic forks). Then I let them air dry over night. Next and this is where Momma comes in, I store them in the refrigerator in the turkey call holder or as she calls it, the butter door. When it’s time to use them again, I take them out of the call holder, put them in a cup of water over night, and we are back in business.
Q: What is a common mistake that turkey hunters make?
A: Not learning how to take the temperature of a turkey. No, not the one in the oven. I am talking about the one that gobbles one time and you call your head off as loud and fast as you can. If you had taken his temperature with a few purrs and a cluck or two and maybe a yelp or two you, would have known he wasn’t the cut-n-run type. Or the tom that has gobbled for a solid hour and when you finally get close he shuts up. And what’s that you hear now? He has a hen with him now. Game over. NOT! It’s now time to call the hen. Make her mad by mocking her and if she gets mad enough to come in, he will follow and then you can take his temperature in the oven. Don’t give up.
Q: Do you use decoys? If so how?
A: Yes. I use decoys especially when I am bowhunting. I like to face a strutting decoy toward my blind, that way another gobbler will always try and face an intruder putting his back and tail toward my blind and giving me a perfect chance to draw and shoot.
Q: What should I do if I go out and don’t hear any gobbling?
A: I like to run and gun. I move a lot and try and find a hot bird. If I don’t have a lot of acreage to hunt, I find a high point, kick back, relax and wait him out. There’s a good chance, if you know there are birds there he has a hen with him, she will slip off sooner or later. Then he will announce his availability. Just remember whichever way you try, you will still at least have a chance. If you give up and go home, you don’t have that chance.
Q: If I can hunt all day, is there a best time to hunt?
A: Remember taking temperature? It’s the same with the time of day. Just depends on the bird and his company or lack thereof. Any time is a good time.