Keeping It Simple - by Bruce Wilds

With the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) convention just wrapping up, another competition caller has been crowned King of the Grand Nationals. I was unable to attend this year’s show, but thanks to technology, I was able to see some of the competition live, via the internet.

It never ceases to amaze me how incredible many of these competitive callers sound. As a well-seasoned turkey hunter and caller myself, it blows me away to hear such turkey calling greatness. Oftentimes, the competition calling is so good that it can make a great turkey caller and hunter feel a bit inadequate.

With that being said, there is one thing that a novice turkey hunter needs to understand. That is, there is a huge difference in calling turkeys versus calling in a competition. In a competition, there is no room for errors in sound and sequence. You are being judged by a panel of people behind a curtain. Whereas, in the turkey woods, you are being judged only by the bird that you are working. It is extremely important to note that in the woods, mistakes can be made and you can still be victorious.

I say this because so many folks new to the sport of turkey hunting listen to these professional callers and are in awe by the sounds; as they should be. However, real world turkey hunting goes nothing like what you see or hear on the stage. In fact, I would wager that more turkeys are killed by keeping it simple and soft, than by putting on an award winning calling sequence.

One thing to remember as a beginning turkey hunter, or even a seasoned veteran for that matter, is to keep turkey calling simple. One of the most common mistakes people make in the field is to burn a call up and make as much sweet hen noise as they can, in hopes of enticing an excited longbeard to the gun. When in reality, the more subtle sounds such as a faint purr, cluck or soft yelp, will seal the deal more often. Especially on those old, call shy birds that have been around the block before. Turkeys have incredible hearing, rendering even the quietest of turkey calls effective.

To help new hunters out, and keeping with the “simple” mantra, HS Strut developed the Cookie Cutt’R Call, which is a slate surfaced, pan style call that has a removable lid with slots in it. Each of these slots teach the beginner caller how to move the striker, to make realistic turkey sounds.  There are three individual slots: one for a yelp, one for a purr and one for the cluck. It is a very simple call to use, creating the basic sounds that every turkey hunter relies on in the woods. Once a caller gets comfortable using the call, the lid easily pops off, opening up the entire slate surface for calling.

Another very basic call and new to the HS line this year, is the SlingBlade Box Call. This call is a single-sided box call, made from American Walnut with an exotic Purple Heart lid. The call is extremely simple to use, as it can only be run on one side and has a built in stop to create the same, realistic sound each time. Box calls are incredibly easy to learn and are a must in any turkey hunter’s arsenal.

So, if you are new to the world of turkey hunting, don’t be discouraged by the incredible sounds of competition callers. Remember that basic turkey sounds, such as the ones the Cookie Cutt’R and the Slingblade reproduce are all one needs to wrap a tag on a spring gobbler. Don’t try to be fancy in the woods and win a calling contest - remember to keep it simple, and you will have much more success in the field. Good luck this spring!

- Bruce Wilds