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Shhh – Go Soft to Get your Bird


          It’s very difficult not to get caught up in the moment. When a longbeard is gobbling every step and he is coming as if on a string. It’s very difficult not to keep calling. And on more than one occasion, I can testify that calling too much has been the ruin of what started out to be a great hunt.

It seems to be far more productive to ‘get his attention’ then play ‘hard to get’. This approach takes discipline, skill and patience. More than most turkey hunters have or can muster in the heat of battle.

On a recent hunt, I wish I could have listened to my own advice a little better. From the roost, two gobblers were really letting it go. Gobbling loud, aggressive and often. I slipped in as close as I dare. It wasn’t long before I had their attention, they flew down and started walking directly towards me. I say eighty five yards inside some woods that joined a large pasture. The birds were in the pasture and headed my way. Strutting, gobbling and coming, and seemingly committed to introducing themselves to the hen I was imitating. The problem arose when I didn’t put down my Primos slate call. Instead of going soft and or silent I kept on yelping and clucking to get them fired up. Each time I called they gobbled. As they crossed the fence into the edge of the woods, I made a few more yelps and mounted the gun. Shortly after the two began to fight, a third joined into the ruckus. Three mature gobblers fighting at seventy yards. I knew they were too far and I grew impatient. I let out a series of loud yelps. The fight ended and they stood erect, looked in my direction and began to walk fast away. I am convinced had I waited, or purred softly, it would have sounded more natural and calming.

I could recount many other occasions when a similar event occurred. And as one veteran turkey hunter shared with me; “I’ve killed a lot more gobblers by taking it easy and playing hard to get, than by storming the dance and hoping he’ll choose me.” If you are going to err, always try and err on the side of caution rather than aggression. Talking to the turkeys instead of shouting works wonders. So does knowing when to put the call down and sit patiently. If you see him headed your way, it often works better to quiet down, and speak softly if at all to get your bird.