It’s opening morning of spring turkey season and despite the sweet yelps you’ve offered, the tom you're working refuses to come in to your setup. The problem? For the last several weeks this gobbler, like most of his pals, has flown down from his roost and gobbled until hens came to him. It’s the way it’s supposed to work. When we try to call in gobblers to our location we are somewhat trying to reverse natures rules, which often leads to hung-up and unresponsive turkeys.
Calling is obviously an extremely successful technique, however, you can up your odds when you control the conversation. Here’s how it works.
- Avoid calling right after he gobbles. This is the core of the technique and can make a notable difference in the number of toms you are able to call in. When a turkey gobbles, most of the time he is communicating he’s interested and wants you to come to him. If you call immediately after he gobbles every time, you are essentially telling the gobbler you are more interested in him than he may be in you. The immediate over-anxious call back can cause the gobbler to put on the brakes and wait on you to come to him. Rather, wait for a bit after he gobbles and then call, almost as if you aren’t really answering his gobble but urging him to come to you.
- Climb the ladder. What happened when your mom used your middle name? It was always hard to go back to nonchalant conversation after that. Once aggressive cuts and yelping is used it’s sometimes hard to take it back. Test the waters and respond to the gobbler’s interest level by starting with non-threatening calls and then building up to more aggressive calling based on need.
- Maintain positioning. A gobbling turkey can make you want to call back immediately, especially if he keeps gobbling. Stay focused and keep control of the conversation. You want to tell the gobbler to come to you, not give in communicating you're coming over to him. Throw in clucks, soft purrs and leaf scratching to communicate you are more interested in feeding than moving his direction.
- Fake a fight. If traditional calling techniques still have your gobbler hung-up, try throwing in some half jake gobbles (keep safety in mind) or fighting purrs. In some cases, this extra realism and control move can play on the tom’s territorial nature and cause him to break his stubbornness and run in.
- Be patient. Some birds will gobble at every call you make but still won’t budge. Consider going silent for up to 30 minutes or more. Keep patient; just when you think it won’t work, the bird might budge and come in to check you out.
Nature’s rules can be reversed, but it sometimes takes significant effort. In addition to other important guidelines and tactics (solid setup, close location to gobbler, no obstacles, etc.), controlling the conservation can determine the difference between filling your tag or not. Control the conservation and show tom who’s boss!