Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Conversational Turkey
By Bob Humphrey
Just like learning a foreign language, learning to call turkeys is a multi-stage process. First you learn the basic vocabulary. With a modicum of practice, most folks should be able to mimic the basic sounds a turkey makes. However, effective communication requires that you be able to understand what the other person is saying, and then respond in appropriate manner. If you want to be an effective turkey hunter you need to learn conversational turkey. Here are a few helpful examples.
You hear a distant gobble so you move in closer and call. A few short yelps says, “Hey, big fella, I’m over here.” If the bird gobbles back immediately, it’s an acknowledgment. He’s saying, “I hear you.” You call again: “Come on over.” He gobbles again, this time closer. He’s telling you he’s on the way. It’s tempting to crank up the conversation, but you may be better off playing it cool. Gobblers tend to prefer aloof or shy gals more than easy or chatty ones.
Gobblers can sometimes be quite aloof themselves. They’ll respond, but hang up some distance away. They’re saying, “Okay, I’ll meet you halfway. But now you’ve got to come to me.” Obviously, you can’t do that. You could play it cool by backing up and calling again, or merely facing away when you call. “Forget you, Buster. I’m leaving.”
If that doesn’t work, further compromise may be in order. Halve the distance between you and the gobbler and try again. “I’ll split the difference with you, but no more.” Or, you could try a few soft purrs. “Whatever, I’m already losing interest.” You can probably understand why that might be more effective than, “Listen, Mister. You get your scaly legs over here right now!”
Sometimes you might get quite a different response from what you expected. If your calling is answered by both gobblers and hens, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The hens are saying, “Back off, and stay away from my man. Meanwhile, he’s probably saying, “I hear you, but I’m a little busy right now.” You can try to fire up one of the hens with a little trash talk: “Hey, ugly, why don’t you come over here and show me what you got?” But she’s just as likely to pull the gobbler away from you. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Hang up and try again later, when he’s not otherwise occupied.
Let’s go back to our aloof gobbler for a moment. He’s hung up, but seemingly alone. And he answers your every call but won’t move a step closer. He’s probably pacing back and forth in a regular strut zone. You can try every trick in the book from sweet talk to trash talk and it still might not work. That’s when it may be time to try an entirely different approach and employ what a cagey old veteran once told me, “If you can’t call ‘em, crawl ‘em.”