Author’s note: Matt Van Cise of Brookville, Pennsylvania has been setting the turkey calling world on fire. On March 9, 2013, Van Cise won the Senior Open Division of the World Turkey Calling Championship held in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The week before, he won the Wild Turkey Bourbon Grand National Championships in the Senior Open Division. Van Cise has won five World Open Championships, four Grand National Championships, three U.S. Open Championships, a World Friction Calling Championship, the Grand National Friction Calling Championship, the North American Championship, and the Mid-America Open Championship since 2000. He uses MAD calls and is a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff.
I’ve been calling competitively since 1996 and hunting turkeys for more than 22 years. There are numbers of turkey hunters in Pennsylvania, and plenty of public lands where hunters can take wild turkeys there. Many hunters can find 200,000 acres to hunt relatively close to home. The secret to hunting public land is to not hunt in the most obvious places, like many hunters do, and some turkey hunters hunt the same areas year after year.
Right now, our turkey population in Pennsylvania is very good. You can walk almost any ridgetop or stop on any dirt road, call and hear a turkey gobble. Many hunters go to the same region and park in the same place every day they hunt. They leave their trucks there, walk into the woods, and call the same way each day. I try to go into places where other hunters aren’t hunting by simply steering clear of other hunters’ vehicles.
Each morning, I check different areas to find the most aggressive turkeys. The turkeys gobbling the most are the gobblers that will come to a call. I don’t waste my time trying to take stubborn gobblers. I can take a stubborn bird, but I feel I’m most successful when I identify turkeys that want to come to a call on the day I’m hunting. I can come back and hunt the reluctant turkeys on another day.
People ask me what I’m doing to win all these world and national championships. Winning a championship is related to how you present the call. I spend time listening to wild turkeys, and I’ve developed a unique sound. I use the standard hen yell, but the sound I make is similar to a box call’s nasal sound. I use the MAD PreCision Plus, a diaphragm call with four reeds and a combination cut (the call has a v-cut with one side of the v cut off). I believe this creates a much prettier yelp on the front end of the call.
Images courtesy John Phillips