Archive for the ‘Turkey Calling’ Tag

TURKEY HUNTERS USE FOWL LANGUAGE   1 comment

MO Call 0005

Chris Parish breaks down the hen call note by note in an attempt to imitate it.  He believes if you are that good at breaking it down then you are also capable of knowing what that calling means.  There are so many subtleties in turkey communication that breaking down the call will tell you what that hen is saying to the gobbler.

Chris Parrish of Centralia, MO has been a competitor and champion in national turkey calling competitions.

There is no way that a human can sound better than a hen turkey.  But, it is possible to sound almost as good.  In the woods, turkeys do make a lot of mistakes in their calls.  They are not always perfect in their calls.  The hunter who listens to the hens and does not worry about the gobblers is the one who will be successful.

What is important is the rhythm of the call not specially the notes.  Whether high pitched, low pitched or raspy it does not make a difference.

A good woodsman can kill turkeys and never use a call.  But, calls add to the experience and challenge of the sport.  Calling does make the outdoorsman a more rounded turkey hunter.

A caller can make a gobbler’s temperature rise and have him seek out what he believes to be a hen.  Or he can get aggressive with a hen and make her so mad that she will seek him out.  Some callers can actually sound like multiple birds.

Some hunters have trouble with mouth calls.  They do not fit the hunter’s mouth comfortably. Sometimes they do not get a proper air seal.  Everyone’s mouth is different and no single call will fit any two people the same.  This results in differences in sound between two callers using the same call.

What is the best call to buy?  Parrish recommends buying one of everybody’s call and try them all until you find the one that works best for you.  Then stick with it.  Do not worry about the name appearing on it.

Hunters will put toothpicks between the reeds to let them dry out nice.  Some hunters will dip their mouth calls in a small cup of Listerine and then wash them off quickly.  If done every two weeks it tends to prevent getting colds and sore throats from calling.

A good call will last you three or four years if you take care of them.

One good way to learn how to mock a turkey is to use a CD of the birds and learn how to match your calling to their vocalizations.  It helps to copy the little soft subtleties that turkeys do.

Callers need to open their mouth when using a mouth call.  Although birds respond with the mouth closed down, the open mouth calling is more clear and distinct.  It makes for a sound of a more excited hen.  Opening the mouth and dropping the jaw give you that realism to the call.

People are reluctant to open the mouth for fear of movement that will scare the bird away or that they will spit the call out.  But, once you learn to call with the jaw dropped you begin to get realism in your calling.

Birds in the woods will yelp just one time.  Callers do not seem to want to do that.  They want to go through a routine.  Parish believes that turkeys do not know what a routine is and do not talk like the contest judge wants to hear.

This year when you are out in the woods listen to the birds and copy them.  It will lead to more success if you learn to speak the fowl language of the turkey.

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A SYSTEMS APPROACH FOR A FALL TURKEY HUNT   Leave a comment

A systems approach to turkey hunting is simple but necessary.  It involves scouting, knowing the habits of fall birds, calling skill and shooting accuracy.  

Scouting involves such things as visually locating birds.  This can best be done by use of binoculars.  You can observe birds from a distance and yet not disturb their activities.  Sound is also important in scouting.  Listen for birds to vocalize.  This can be in response to a crow call or just listening for birds to gobble. 

Fall turkey hunters are best served if they talk with landowners, rural postal carriers, and others who are in the field with the birds all year.  They are a wealth of knowledge as to just where the birds are moving and at what times of the day they can be found. 

Locating a flock consists of finding scratching sign in the hardwoods.  The scratching tells the story of the direction the flock is traveling.  Droppings tell the story of just which sex birds are in the flock.  Hen droppings are like a popcorn kernel while the jakes leave a long J-shaped dropping. 

Feathers that are found also tell a story.  Breast feathers that are dark are from gobblers or jakes.  The feathers for a hen or jenny will be brown and buff in color.  The feathers are often found in dusting areas.  These are areas of very loose dirt where the birds take a dust bath to rid themselves of parasites. 

Around water one needs to look for tracks.  Gobbler tracks are much larger than those of the other birds.  In dry years birds will roost near the water, a good place to look for them. 

Another way to have birds where you want them is to create your own hunting area.  The hunter with a specific plot of land can plant food plots of red top millet, clover and wheat. Birds will stay in the area as long as there is food available.

Fall turkey hunting is for jakes and jennies’.  That is the birds usually taken in fall are the young of the year either male or female.  Young jakes are more vocal in the fall.  More jakes are taken in the fall than Jennies’.  The young of the year are still in family groups of hens and the pouts of the year. 

Hen turkeys will maintain contact with soft contact calls such as the soft yelp.  It is a call with emotion and is soothing to the young birds. 

Once a flock is located scatter them by running through them without a firearm.  Once they are scattered return to the place where you first contacted them and set up.  It is a matter of sitting and waiting for the birds to return.  One can also bust up a flock at night and then hunt them in the morning.  Young birds that have been isolated all night are anxious to get back to the flock at first light. 

Going back to the flock busted during the day usually takes about 5 minutes before they begin to regroup.  The first bird starts it out with a kee call.  Answer with a kee call.  The use of a hen call is necessary to attract the youngster.  For this use a 6 in 1 waterfowl call because of it=s high pitch.   Use a high pitched call then a cluck to attract the young birds. 

Never uses a gobble call when hunting on public land.  It is too dangerous as you do not have control of the other hunters on the land.  Gobbles should only be used on private land where you know who else is sharing the woods with you. 

Two other safety considerations in fall hunting is never chase a bird with a loaded gun and to be careful in carrying a bird.  You do not want to be mistaken for a live bird. 

Mature gobblers can be taken in the fall but the approach is slightly different.  Gobblers respond better to aggressive calling.  Begin with a cluck to establish contact.  Then use a soft purr as a feeding call and move leaves around to simulate feeding birds. 

Gobblers have a pecking order.  When they hear a gobble they will gobble back as a means of establishing dominance. 

Knowledge of the turkey vocalizations is vital to fall turkey hunting.  Many turkey hunters have a favorite diaphragm (mouth) call but also carry box and slate calls as well.  You can never have too many calls.  Some also carry a tube call or two.

Turkey hunting is great fun either spring or fall.  But, in the fall the hunter needs to be more pro-active in scattering and then calling the flock back together.  In the spring, it is a matter of finding a lovesick gobbler and getting him to come to you.  Fall turkey hunting is another opportunity to harvest a bird using your skills.

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.

TURKEY CALLING ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT   Leave a comment

Out foxing the wild turkey can also mean conquering the weather.  Some springs in Illinois have been rainy ones.  Nevertheless, 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 that 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 Zip loc 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.  However, 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.  Sometimes it appears that a bird appears not to respond to 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 striker with a commercial call does not match the slate.  He works at matching strikers to the slate.  Each combination sounds different even though they are made 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 results.  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.

USE FOWL LANGUAGE FOR TURKEYS   Leave a comment

Chris Parish breaks down the hen call note by note in an attempt to perfectly imitate it.  He believes if you are that good at breaking it down then you are also capable of knowing what that calling means.  There are so many subtleties in turkey communication that breaking down the call will tell you what that hen is saying to the gobbler. 

Chris Parrish of Centralia, MO has been a long time competitor in turkey calling contests throughout the country. 

There is no way that a human can sound better than a hen turkey.  But, it is possible to sound almost as good.  In the woods, turkeys do make a lot of mistakes in their calls.  They are not always perfect in their calls.  The hunter who listens to the hens and does not worry about the gobblers is the one who will be successful. 

What is important to Parrish is the rhythm of the call not specially the notes.  Whether high pitched, low pitched or raspy it does not make a difference.  

A good woodsman can kill turkeys and never use a call.  But, calls add to the experience and challenge of the sport.  Calling does make the outdoorsman a better rounded turkey hunter. 

A caller can make a gobbler’s temperature rise and have him seek out what he believes to be a hen.  Or he can get aggressive with a hen and make her so mad that she will seek him out.  Some callers can actually sound like multiple birds.

 Some hunters have trouble with mouth calls.  They do not fit the hunter’s mouth comfortably. Sometimes they do not get a proper air seal.  Everyone’s mouth is different and no single call will fit any two people the same.  This results in differences in sound between two callers using the same call.

 What is the best call to buy?  Parrish recommends buying one of everybody’s call and try them all until you find the one that works best for you.  Then stick with it.  Do not worry about which brand name is on the call. 

Hunters will put toothpicks between the reeds to let them dry out nice.  Some hunters will dip their mouth calls in a small cup of Listerine and then wash them off quickly.  If done every two weeks it tends to prevent getting colds and sore throats from calling. 

A good call will last you three or four years if you take care of them. 

One good way to learn how to mock a turkey is to use a CD of the birds and learn how to match your calling to their vocalizations.  It helps to copy the little soft subtleties that turkeys do.  

Callers need to open their mouth when using a mouth call.  Although birds can be called in with the mouth closed down, the open mouth calling is more clear and distinct.  It makes for a sound of a more excited hen.  Opening the mouth and dropping the jaw give you that realism to the call. 

People are reluctant to open the mouth for fear of movement that will scare the bird away or that they will spit the call out.  But, once you learn to call with the jaw dropped you begin to get realism in your calling. 

Birds in the woods will yelp just one time.  Callers do not seem to want to do that.  They want to go through a routine.

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