After more than five decades walking on this beautiful earth I have learned many things, but one that is one of the most important is we were given two ears and one mouth and we should use them accordingly.
Now, some could take that statement and use it for many different situations. For a father, it could mean one thing to one and something totally different to another. In a work environment, some could say that one should listen more than they talk. As a husband, well. You all get the idea, I would just as soon not go down that road.
For sportsmen, especially spring-turkey hunters, it really means just one thing - spend at least twice as much time listening to the birds than talking to them.
Knowing what the birds are doing in your hunting area is the most important piece of the turkey-hunting puzzle. Without birds, all the calling, setups and fancy equipment is all for naught if there aren't any turkeys in your area. Several years back I had been scouting a particular flock of birds and the group had three longbeards and one monster. I had been watching them for weeks and waited for the right time to hunt these birds. Some have asked, "Why wait until the right time to hunt these birds?"
I knew that particular flock had several different places it liked to go to after it flew down. There was no rhyme or reason to where it went or when it was there. The best way to hunt those birds was covering their travel routes and not calling.
I have never been one to creep so close to birds in the dark that they fly right down in your lap. While this a great way to hunt and at times is very productive, it does have downfalls.
History has shown that for me, attempting to get too close to birds in the dark is not a high-percentage way of killing spring gobblers.
While I feel that I can creep along the woods quietly, doing it in the dark isn't worth the risk. It seems that no matter how early I get in the woods or how cautious I try to be, more times than not I bump birds off the roost. Once that is done, generally that roosting area will not be used. Hence, all your scouting has been ruined by one hunt.
For me it's not worth the risk.
That is just one reason I preach scouting all the time and all during the year.
During a late-season, last-ditch effort, we felt it was time to go after that longbeard. We had what should have been a perfect setup. What we thought and what actually happened, as is generally the case in the world of the spring turkey woods, the hens took the longbeards off in another direction, down the hill, away from myself and the guide's guide.
The hen headed to a place we weren't going to go and because of the posted signs we opted to stay put and enjoy the morning with a cup of coffee. We were set up between a field and strutting zone. So I knew they typically will work their way back in the area.
Staying in the hunting mode is difficult during these "down times." Knowing that the birds hadn't gone far, we all stayed put and called occasionally.
It wasn't long before a lone gobbler sounded off. We did a quick re-setup, placing the guide's guide behind me about 60 yards. If the longbeard crossed down from me, the guide's guide would get a crack at him.
In theory, the closest hunter doesn't call and lets the hunter behind him act as a lonely hen. This generally works only when there is more than one mature gobbler and jakes in the flock. The results should be that a mature gobbler doesn't like to be far from hens and is always looking for a new girlfriend.
Four mature gobblers and three jakes flying down earlier made this a textbook time try to this tag team setup.
After several series of "up-the-hill, down-the-hill calling," the woods went extraordinarily silent. Experience has taught me that's when business is about to pick up.
It wasn't long before I spotted a red thing that at the time I thought was a leaf. The "red leaf" moved and then turned into two ''leaves'' and then three. At the moment I realized that the leaves weren't that, but turkeys. I purred and all heck broke loose.
As the redheads turned into full body gobblers, I began to understand that I had all four mature longbeards working their way to my single decoy. Another purr on a mouth call sent the birds gobbling and strutting their way within gun range.
For what seemed like hours, which actually was only minutes, three of the gobblers worked their way through my ambush.
As the three 2-18s walked through, the mature gobbler gave his last gobble and found that a load of No. 5s out of a 10 gauge makes for a bad day for him, but good day for me.
While this particular was a textbook hunt, years of experience has shown that hunting spring turkeys doesn't always go by the book.
No matter which call one chooses to use - box, friction, wing bone or mouth - understanding the best way to use them is a personal preference. There are a few hard and true a facts about turkey calling, but I stick with one that does work. Spend more time listening and less time calling.