Sometimes in order to score on an impressive wild turkey gobbler you need to use alternative calling tactics. Sure, clucks and purrs can bring some birds running but in order to fool a gobbler following hens you need to use turkey talk that fires up hens, gets their attention, makes them curious and in some cases aggravates them to come your way. The trick is to simply piss off the lead hen, make her fighting mad and when she comes looking for a fight she brings the entire flock along with the love sick gobbler following the group. Now, sit tight and when the sisters gather close for a fight you get your sights on the gobbler and dust him off as he joins the crew.
Sounds like a simple calling strategy and in some cases it works like magic to gather wild turkeys kissin’ close but the technique can be difficult to master. Success hinges on your ability to select a turkey call that sounds like a mature hen yelling insults. I’m talking a loud, wicked sounding box call or diaphragm call that is loud and obnoxious. I’m talking a real sounding adult hen call that is somewhat raspy and makes loud powerful yelps. Use calls that best mimic the hot head witch on the block. The idea is to entice wild birds into a fight, get’em fired up, running your way to put a Smackdown on the mouthy new intruder.
The tactic doesn’t work in every situation. But in order to draw a gobbler that is henned up and following the girls you need to yell insults to get the hens kissin’ close and the big boy will follow. Sometimes you just mimic the hen vocalizations of local birds with a mixed range of volume and frequency. Other times you simply out-call the lead hen, make her mad and she will come looking for a fight.
I’ll never forget a fun outing when early morning hens gathered in a field close to my blind. Soon a pair of large gobblers followed the flock but none of the birds were moving my direction. That’s when I got out my raspy paddle call that makes loud sounds. The box ensures high quality reliable hen sounds that are loud and mimics adult hens. I made a few yelps followed by deeper, courser sounding calls. My goal was to out-yelp the lead hen. If she made three calls I made four. If she came back with five calls I challenged with six or seven. Soon the matriarch got the message; she stood tip-toed looking for the bird that had enough gall to yelp louder than her on her home turf. When I answered back she challenged, turned and began a mad strut headed directly at my blind. She talked trash all the way across the field and her back up girls followed with the two gobblers in tow. The loud yelping was the trick and soon the entire flock circled my location. I shut up. The lead hen patrolled back and forth still looking for battle as the gobblers strolled into archery range and started struttin’. I got their attention with a loud single alarm putt and when they lifted their bright red head gave one a NAP Gobbler Getter three blade broadhead through the vitals from my Carbon Express crossbow.
I used this deadly strategy last year on some Jackson County big toms in late afternoon when the gobblers would not respond to my soft clucks and purrs. Sometimes in order to call a big gobbler into range you need to get the attention of hens, talk dirty to them, get’em pissed and when they come looking for a fight they drag the big gobblers into a rude awakening. The trick is to take your calling to the extreme, beg for trouble in the woods and excite wild birds into a confrontation. The best call you can use in this situation duplicates the sounds of an old boss hen. One that provides loud yelping, raspy cutting and aggressive tones that make birds listen up.
You see, it’s all about disrespect. Apparently wild turkey hens do not like to be disrespected on their home turf and if you aggravate them they will come looking for a fight. Like a feathered street gang, they bring plenty of back up and when hens gather in a crowd they rival the MSU students on Cedar Street during a riot. They gather in a group, march in formation with the boss hen leading the group with nasty loud remarks and challenging calls. In this situation suiting gobblers get dragged into the fight and end up part of the mass, although they tend to follow from the rear. At times they act like they are eager to be part of a hen fight, witness spurs flying, wings slammin’ and hens beating the hell out of each other. Perhaps they view fights as a means to an end, knowing they can get extra close to females that are concentrating on kickin’ tail. Then again most males recognize that females on this planet get fighting mad if you disrespect them.
It was thrilling to watch a group of 20 fired-up hens march in formation past my ditch blind in an open field. With telephoto camera in hand I finally ceased making nasty hen challenging calls and readied to photograph the large strutting gobblers following the crowd. At one point the boss hen patrolled up and down the field edge making loud calls to challenge the intruder. I slithered into tall grass and brush, hugged the ground and eventually the flock slipped to my right as fanned gobblers approached from the left. At one point the three big gobblers surrounded a pretty little hen, corralled her in the center of the wall of fanned tail feathers. But she eventually popped out of the gobbler huddle and hustled to join the flock of hens 30 yards away. Soon the entire parade wiggled over a hill out of sight as my heart continued to pound from the exciting wild turkey encounter.
Every hunting situation is different. Some days birds come running at the slightest hen sounds but often adult gobblers can be difficult to get kissin’ close. You must be the judge of which situation deserves the aggressive style of calling that aggravates wild turkeys. If you have just a single hen or two the tactic seldom works. If there is a flock of hens, especially if they are led by a boss hen, the nasty language can be the key to success. Your goal is to get the boss hen spitting mad, make her feel like a street fight is the only solution to silence the mouthy intruder. Get birds mad and they go ballistic, act like street thugs and the hunt is on.
Get freaky nasty with your calling and some birds will avoid confrontation and hike the opposite direction. At times they simply note your location and slowly come looking for the intruder but there are hens that come fast, reply to every call and try desperately to out-talk your calling. They become aggravated in a heartbeat, pissed, mad, and rush you like they want to get immediately involved in a slug fest. Each calling situation is different and sometimes smart hens act like they want to avoid confrontations. Your goal is to produce realistic, intense, loud and clear vocalizations that bring hens with attitude and unsuspecting gobblers follow the crowd.
Decoys can be a disadvantage in this situation. Rival hens can quickly see decoys and assess them as relaxed, non-moving, not threatening dead looking hens. You are better off using this trick when you are hidden, out of sight. Aggressive hens go bonkers if they are disrespected and they cannot see the challenging hen. They will come to investigate, move quickly to get a peek at contenders and search high and low for the trash talkin’ culprit hen. If they come for a fight and the contender is out of sight they seem to get even more aggravated, aggressive and tend to stay near you for a longer period of time looking for the mouthy intruder to their turf.
When you spot a flock with gobbler in tow, try normal clucks, purrs, yelps to bring birds your way. If they do not respond try a loud introduction from a boss hen to get their attention. Most often when birds come into range you are best off going silent, prepare for a shot and let the pissed off hens search the surroundings. When birds are close, calling can cause them to zero-in on your exact location and they could quickly notice your outline, unpainted gun, eyes blinking, hands or feet moving. If they spot you and sound the alarm putt, your hunt has come to an end. This is when you either shoot or let them walk out of sight.
For this brand of exciting hunting your camouflage must be complete. Calling birds to your exact position means you have to be 100 percent fully camouflaged and when wild birds are eyeballing your hide you have to remain completely still.
The goal is to bring adult hens
kissin’ close, have them surround your position and the gobblers following the flock move into easy range.
Some hunters like to hide in a blind or use camouflaged netting to hide their movements and position from the keen eyesight of wild birds. Others are gifted at selecting set-up locations where their human outline is concealed and they simply blend into the natural habitat.
It is always entertaining to talk turkey, sound like a challenging bitch and witness wild birds get puffed up mad and prepare for a street fight. Few sights in turkey hunting compare with the excitement of hens dashing your direction with bad attitude and fanned out gobblers hustling straight at you to keep up with the flock. This is intensive hunting that quickens your pulse and provides a unique opportunity to communicate with wild turkeys and fool them with lifelike calling that challenges and aggravates them into action.