Eddie Salter began hunting at the age of 8 near his home in Evergreen, Alabama. Then after learning turkey hunting techniques from his father and grandfather, Eddie called-in and harvested his first gobbler at the age of 10. In 1981, Salter began participating in competitive turkey calling and amassed an impressive list of titles, including seven Southeastern Open Turkey Calling Championships, six Alabama State Championships and two World Open Championships. Salter was named one of the top 10 sportsmen in the U.S. in 1986 and 1989. With over 35 years experience, Salter, who is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on turkey hunting, has appeared on ESPN, TNN, The Outdoor Channel and ABC’s 20/20 TV show and in numerous hunting videos and television commercials for Hunter’s Specialties and has been featured in many outdoor magazine articles and radio interviews. In this interview, he gives some of his suggestions for hunting turkeys. Tips like this and other expert guidance is provided in my new e-book, PhD Gobblers.
Eddie Salter’s 10 Most-Frequently-Asked Seminar Questions
1. What’s the number one thing you need to be successful when hunting turkeys – your equipment, your gun or your ability to call?
Salter: Actually, none of the above. The number one thing you need to be a successful turkey hunter is having turkeys to hunt. You can have all the equipment in the world, the best gun and the best calls on the market, but if you don’t have turkeys, you don’t have anything.
2. How do you locate turkeys?
Salter: I use owl calls and crow calls, but I use crow calls the most.
3. What kind of shot do you like?
Salter: I like to use the shot that’s shooting the best in the gun I’m using on that particular day. For instance, my 20 gauge shoots No. 6s great, but my 12 gauge shoots No. 4s the best. You’ve got to look at the pattern your gun produces with several different shot sizes and various brands of shells to know which brand and which shot shoots the best in your gun.
4. What single call do you use the most?
Salter: The call I use the most is the hen yelp because I hear hen turkeys yelping in the woods more than any other call they make. I’m convinced I can be very successful taking turkeys with just the hen yelp.
5. Do you really think wearing camouflage is important when you’re hunting turkeys?
Salter: I certainly do. For instance, if you walk in your house and an ashtray is knocked off the shelf, you know it because the ashtray is out of place and inappropriate. When you come into the gobbler’s environment, you stick out like that knocked off ashtray if you don’t have on camouflage. The turkey will see you. I believe in the importance of camouflage, and I use camouflage to help me blend into my surroundings.
6. What do you do on days that turkeys just don’t gobble?
Salter: If I’ve hunted that area prior to this hunt, and I’m confident that a turkey is there, then I go to where I think the turkey is and call for 15-20 minutes. If I don’t hear a bird gobble, I’ll move into another region where I know turkeys are.
7. How do you determine whether or not you’ve got turkeys on your property?
Salter: I try to cover every inch of that land. I walk the main roads and look for a turkey sign. The reason I choose to walk the roads and creek banks instead of dried creek beds and/or fire lanes is because they’re cleaner. I can move through them more quietly. I can ease around, and I can stop and look. You really want to be out there the first 15 minutes of daylight because most of the time the birds will gobble on their own then. You don’t have to make them gobble because they’ll tell you they’re there.
8. Do you believe in using decoys?
Salter: Over the years, I haven’t hunted that much with decoys, but here lately I’ve had a chance to experiment with many different decoys. I’ve started using real-life mounted decoys, and I’ve been really successful with them. As a rule of thumb, I tell hunters to take two hen decoys and one jake decoy with them when hunting. That combination seems to work a lot better than only using one decoy. I suggest putting the decoys in open spots like fields however make sure you have your back to a tree when you have decoys out. Then you’ll always have a clear field of view, so you can see other hunters that may try to sneak in and shoot your decoys. Always think safety first.
9. Do you use multiple calls?
Salter: Yes, I use many calls. Many times I’ll use a box call and a mouth call at the same time. At other times, I’ll use a slate call and a mouth call together. Using multiple calls to call in a gobbler seems to work best in the early part of the season, because that’s when you hear more than one hen calling at the same time. Often if you can sound like a flock of turkeys, that ability makes a gobbler feel really good because instead of going to one girlfriend, he thinks he’s going to a sorority full of girls.
10. When do you call to a turkey?
Salter: Normally I like to let a turkey gobble on his own, and I enjoy trying to answer a turkey instead of letting him answer me. I always ask people the same question, “Don’t you feel good when you call and a turkey answers?” Well, when you reverse that role, don’t you think that your answering a tom will make the turkey feel good? I think you get inside turkeys’ head when you do that, and you can force the action, instead of waiting for it to happen. To answer this question more completely, if you call to a bird and he flies down and he’s started your way, don’t call to him anymore. Let that be your last call.
Below is a video in which Salter talks about his favorite turkey call.
You’ll never encounter a more-maddening situation than hunting a gobbler you can’t take. But, you can learn how to take a tom like this by:
hearing the experiences of turkey hunters who have been successful taking toms or,
spending many days yourself in the outdoors, trying to complete the puzzles that may give you the keys to bagging a bad bird.
Toms that have earned their PhDs in the turkey-hunting wars pose problems to hunters because these birds know more about how to dodge hunters and have been more successful at hunter avoidance than all the men and women have been who have attempted to take these turkeys. But the PhD longbeards’ need for sex, the sizes of their egos and their tendency to live a routine usually are their Achilles tendon. However, these birds do learn every day from each hunter they encounter how to survive until another season when they can breed another flock of hens. These turkeys have built such a huge database on humans that they’ve earned their PhDs.
The professionals, like the PhD gobblers they hunt, are consummate students who never stop learning, aren’t afraid to try new tactics and treat every PhD gobbler they meet as individuals. These pros are seasoned veterans with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge to understand how to hunt turkeys better and how to better talk to turkeys. This book will show you the pros’ victories and defeats and explain the lessons they’ve learned from some of the PhD gobblers they’ve hunted. If you’ll study the lessons of the PhD gobblers in this book, you’ll successfully take some of these tough toms and qualify for your master’s degree in turkey hunting.
This book contains over 120 photos taken by the author and includes 6 bonus videos with Eddie Salter. You can buy it now on Amazon.com.
Photo: kat+sam on flickr