SUCCESSFUL TURKEY HUNTERS BEAT THE WEATHER   Leave a comment

Out foxing the wild turkey can also mean conquering the weather.  Some springs in Illinoishave been rainy ones.  But, turkeys stay out in the rain and if a hunter wants one he has to do the same. 

Rob Keck, former Executive Director of the National Wild Turkey Federation, finds some springs it rains on his parade too.  “Everywhere I go,” says Keck, “It seems like it rains.  I hunt more times in the rain than I can remember.” 

Keck has to find way to get around the weather.  He spends a lot of time just trying to find a dry place where he can still hunt.  Out buildings and rock outcropping are just two of the places he uses. 

Always on the alert for ways to beat the weather, Keck takes his slate call, turns it upside down and uses it that way.  When not using it, he keeps the call and striker inside his coat.  By using these two maneuvers, he is able to keep it out of the elements. 

Keck, who uses slate calls quite a bit, always carries his strikers in Ziploc bags.  He just pops the bags into his vest.  He usually has his vest on the outside of his rain gear so that the calls and strikers are accessible.  In the bags they remain dry. 

He stresses the need to keep a striker dry.  Because once that tip gets wet, you are out of business. 

Speaking of strikers, Keck finds that a real ticket to successful calling relates to the fact that some birds want you to start with one call and finish with another.  He has to carry a variety of strikers.  But he likes to do that anyway. 

When in the woods, Keck carries a variety of calls from box calls, mouth calls, slates of different compositions, even wingbone calls.  When asked how many calls he carries, his response is, “I usually put a 50-pound limit on it.” 

Keck finds it amazing that he can get one turkey to gobble on one particular striker and the next bird will not even listen to it.  He just keeps switching around to find what is really going to work.  Some birds appear to not work a slate call, but it may be that he will not work a slate call with that particular striker. 

Keck points out that often a commercial call has a striker that has not actually been matched to the slate.  He works at matching strikers to the slate.  Each combination sounds different even though they can be made out of the same types of woods.  Keck carries a variety of wooden strikers, usually made out of very dense and heavy woods.  He uses everything from tiger wood, rosewood, ebony to a whole variety of woods.  This enables him to find what works best with a particular call.  He explains that, “everyone is going to have a different sound when you combine two surfaces.” 

That includes box calls as well.  Keck finds that changing the angle of the lid on a box call can make a different pitch.  To do this Rob either backs out the Phillips head screw or tightens it.  “What this does,” explains Keck “is change where the paddle is actually striking on the lip of the box.”  As you get out closer to the edges, a higher pitch is produced.  Moving more to the center you are going to get a deeper pitched sound. 

Every turkey wants something different.  Changing calls is one way to change the sound of the box call.  Another is how you hold the call.  You change the sound by changing the location of where you hold it.  Holding it into your body and reversing where the hinge is located will change it as well. 

Keeping your calls dry, experimenting with them and their use, and using different calls and strikers, can make all the difference in sound.  It can spell the difference between bringing home a big old tom and just getting wet and frustrated.

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