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).
Top image courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation; hunting images by Mark Kayser