Turkey Hunting: Using All Your Calls

Legendary Whitetails 5.6.2015

They may not look like it, but turkeys communicate exactly like humans.  Ok, well maybe not EXACTLY, but very closely…you just need to think about it with an open mind.  More specifically, the way they respond to a particular type of call or sequence is the same way you and I respond to our ringing smart phones.  Confused?  Read on and you’ll be amazed at the connection and maybe you’ll even strike up a deadly conversation with Mr. Longbeard this spring.

Turkey Hunter Using a Slate Call

Think of it this way, do you answer your phone with the same enthusiasm every single time?  I imagine not.  Turkeys that do this find themselves in a frying pan pretty quickly.  Most sane people in this world have a personality that’s specific to them.  Some are always holly jolly, while some are Debbie downers. Some chat your ear off, while others are afraid to open their mouth.  Some are loners, while some are groupies….I think you get the point.

How does this translate into which turkey call you should use?

Do you ever wonder why you have all those pockets on your turkey vest?  It’s because you’re supposed to use them!  When I say use them, I don’t just mean throw some calls in there to look cool, I mean you should actually make some noise with them…all of them.  In my younger days, I would carry around one or two calls on every hunt – a slate call and a box call.  Then I learned how to use mouth calls, and soon that was all I was taking with me (aside from a crow call and owl hooter).  The ease and convenience of only taking a Tic Tac sized case with a few mouth calls was second to none on run and gun hunts.  While I had some success, I’ve since learned the absolute need to carry a vest full of calls.

Turkey Hunting Vest Full of Different Calls

Being prepared is key for successful turkey hunts.  Sometimes all you need is one call, and other times you need to strike 3 or 4 before the old Tom fires up.  Better to be with, than without!

Answer this: You know when your phone rings and it says your boss is calling, and you decide to intentionally let it go to voicemail because you are “busy” and it’s the weekend.  This may be the exact reaction of a turkey in response to your slate call.  What if your boss was to call back using one of your coworker’s phone, of whom you love to hang out with?  I’ll bet you would answer immediately, only to be stung by the sound of your boss’s voice, of whom you just ignored.  Turkeys will do the same.  There have been plenty of times where friends and I couldn’t get a bird to gobble using our diaphragm or slate calls.  Then we busted out the trusty ol’ box call and WHAMO, a tom hammered less than 100 yards away and the hunt was on!

Now, that the boss (the turkey hunter) has conned you (the turkey) into a conversation, you can’t just hang up on them.  Same goes for the box call that invoked the gobble.  Get setup and keep using that box, obviously he liked something about it and chances are if he’s in the mood, you’ll pull him in on a string.

Springtime turkeys are fascinating creatures and they all behave in their own personal way.  There’s no telling what type or sound of call might spring a silent strutter into action, so if you’re struggling during a hunt, don’t be afraid to use the entire arsenal.  Sometimes the box call is hot, and sometimes the slate gets them speaking, and a sometimes they want to breed that sexy sounding hen so bad, any call works.  Just remember, some gobblers are “your best friend calling”…yippee! And others can be “your boss calling on the weekend”… DECLINE!


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