Mention gobbling as a turkey hunting call and some traditionalists will slap you across the face. Not only do they scream about the safety factor, but they also stress it isn’t a conventional call to incorporate. I say, yes, beware of the safety issue and be on the lookout for other hunters stalking you. If someone would stalk you at any time during a hunt, speak to them in a calm and loud voice. As for customs and tradition, bah humbug.
I pack a gobbler call and use it despite the Trump-style bad press it continually generates. How can a gobble call help your turkey hunting success? Consider these tactics to use with a gobble call.
- This one is a no brainer: Gobble after sunset, and if you’re within hearing distance of a testosterone-charged tom, it likely will gobble back from the roost. Note the location of the roost or move closer, and pinpoint the position for a morning rendezvous.
- Gobble in the morning. How many times have you found yourself in the woods after sunrise with the turkeys as silent as an investigated congressman? Gobble calls can help find a gobbler after morning fly down. After toms hit the ground and go into their strut-zone morning ritual, they often shut up for a period of time. A gobble from you can break the ice and re-start the conversation.
- Pick a fight in the midmorning. It’s common for a gobbler to gobble back at hen calls, yet remain cemented in place. If you add in a gobble, cuts, aggressive yelps and fighting purrs, then you might just stir the pot enough for a gobbler to investigate in “Rocky” mode.
- Finally, if I’m hopeless at midday with no turkeys in sight, I occasionally let out a gobble while hiking a property. I think of it as trolling, and it could spark a lackadaisical gobbler into responding. Once you get his attention, add in some hen chatter and let him map a course to you.
Safety is a serious concern while using a gobbler call, so use common sense. It probably isn’t wise to use a gobble call in a heavily hunted public area. Using it from a ground blind is advised because hunters will hopefully spot your hide. At all times, you should hang an orange hat or cloth in a tree above your setup site to advertise your presence. And, as previously noted, if you do spy someone stalking toward you, speak to them in a calm, clear and loud voice to announce your location.
Like our new President who excels in nontraditional actions, using a gobbler call is definitely not a traditional turkey call. Nevertheless, sometimes a bit of nontradition is exactly what you need to find success.
Several years ago, I was hunkered in my ground blind and my hen yelps were going unnoticed due to the amount of competing, real turkey chatter in the area. I switched to a gobble call mixed with cutting, and within minutes a group of gobblers strutted by my blind at less than 20 yards. My Mathews bow assisted in letting the air out of the one with the most PSI (photo above).