Author’s note: Chris Kirby, the president of Quaker Boy Calls (http://www.quakerboy.com), has won every major turkey calling championship in the nation including the U.S. Open, the World-National, and Grand National Turkey Calling Championship. He is also the creator of the Mossy Oak Turkey THUGS (www.mossyoak.com) line of calls.
I was hunting with a well-known outdoor writer on the Ford Ranch near Melvin, Texas a few years ago. This 30,000-acre ranch was loaded with Rio Grande gobblers. We were set up under some oak brush out in the middle of a pasture. We had heard a turkey gobble not too far away just at daylight, so we got inside the brush, which was the only cover available.
The Ford Ranch is a working cattle ranch raising angora goats, and we were set up in one of the pastures they’d set aside for the goats. The turkey I was calling was about 500 yards away, but we’d called to him on the roost, and he’d answered us. In this open country, turkeys often would travel a long way to meet their hens. We could tell the gobbler was coming, because he was gobbling more, and he kept getting louder and louder. I really thought my writer friend would bag this gobbler less than 45 minutes after his feet hit the ground, but then we heard a noise from the left. It continued to get louder and louder, and the turkey quit gobbling. Within a few minutes, we spotted a large heard of goats–300 or 400–that marched between us and the turkey. Goats make plenty of noise when they’re moving, and there were a lot of goats.
After the goats had passed, the writer looked at me with a disgusting frown and said, “What are we going to do now? The goats have spooked our turkey.” I looked at the writer, smiled and said, “We’ll let those goats get out of sight and hearing, and then we’ll call that turkey up and shoot him. Those goats probably come through here every day. I’ll call to the bird and let him know we’re still here.” I called to the turkey. He gobbled back and came marching right up the goat hill.
The lesson to be learned here was things happened in nature that we often didn’t take time to understand. Most hunters would’ve thought that the goats ruined our hunt, when really all they did was postpone it until they were gone. When I started calling, and the gobbler knew the same hen was still in the same place after the goats had moved away, he decided to come back and get with her again. Those goats walked that same route every day, so all the turkeys and deer knew the goats’ routine. The turkey wouldn’t march through a herd of goats get to that hen, but the goats didn’t scare the turkey. Because we were patient, the gobbler did what he’d already planned to do, which was go to that hen. Just because a gobbler doesn’t come in or stops coming to you doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. There are other natural factors that can cause a gobbler to quit coming to a call.
Images courtesy John Phillips